Sunday, April 17, 2011
Ducks: Game 3 on deck in Nashville
By Dan Arritt
Western Conference quarterfinals
Ducks (1-1) vs. Nashville Predators (1-1) at Bridgestone Arena, 3 p.m. PT
Five storylines to track:
1. Ryan sits: If scoring goals against one of the league’s best goalkeepers isn’t tough enough, the Ducks will be without their second-leading goal scorer from the regular season for Games 3 and 4 in Nashville. Bobby Ryan was suspended two games by the NHL on Saturday for stomping on the skate of Nashville defenseman Jonathon Blum with about 3 ˝ minutes left in Game 2. Ryan scored two goals in the 5-3 victory and 34 during the regular season.
2. Ruutu back? With the absence of Ryan, the Ducks will likely reinsert Jarrko Ruutu in the lineup. Ruutu has been racking up the penalty minutes of late but not many points. In fact, he hasn’t made the scoring column since tallying an assist Feb. 27 against Colorado. But the Ducks didn’t acquire Ruutu for his scoring touch. He’s purely a fourth-line agitator and he does that well. He just needs to stay out of the penalty box.
3. Top-line replacement? The other big question in response to Ryan’s suspension is, who will replace Ryan on the top line? Brandon McMillan practiced with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on Saturday, so that should be a good indication. McMillan had teamed with Matt Beleskey and Nick Bonino on Friday against the Predators and they had one of the best shifts of the game to set up Ryan's first goal, which gave the Ducks a 3-1 lead in the second period. When you’re dealing with Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, however, it’s always safe to expect the unexpected.
4. Outside the box: This probably goes without saying, but the longer the Ducks can stay out of the penalty box the better off they'll be against the Predators. Anaheim hasn’t been doing a good job of that lately, allowing 20 power plays over the last four regular-season games and 11 through the first two postseason games. The Ducks aren't particularly strong on the penalty kill, finishing 19th in the league during the regular season, and they’ve allowed three power-play goals in the first two playoff games.
5. Dangerous Predator: Nashville is best known for goaltender Pekka Rinne and the defensive pairing of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter but a key player to stop up front is Mike Fisher, who has four points in the first two playoff games. Fisher came over to Nashville in February in a trade with Ottawa. In addition to his scoring touch, Fisher was teammates with Ducks goalie Ray Emery for parts of five seasons in Ottawa, so he should know Emery’s weaknesses better than others.