Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Ducks: Game 4 up next in Nashville Western Conference quarterfinal
Ducks (1-2) vs. Nashville Predators (2-1) at Bridgestone Arena, 5:30 p.m. PT
1. Suspension continues: The Ducks will have to survive another game without winger Bobby Ryan, who was suspended for Games 3 and 4 for stomping on the skate of Nashville defenseman Jonathon Blum late in the Game 2 victory by Anaheim at Honda Center. The Ducks scored three goals without Ryan in his first game out of the lineup but could have used a couple more in the 4-3 loss Sunday afternoon. Ryan was the second-leading goal scorer during the regular season with 34 and notched two in Anaheim’s only playoff win this series.
2. Pike with a twist: Ducks general manager Bob Murray went out of his way after Game 3 to criticize Nashville for its "diving" techniques, which he felt led to some of the 16 power plays by the Predators in this series. The most obvious sell came from Nashville forward Jerred Smithson, who acted like he was struck with a cattle prod when Brad Winchester's stick came near his face in Game 2 (video replays show Winchester's stick never touched Smithson).
3. Hiller heads home: The Ducks have sent goalkeeper Jonas Hiller home from Nashville to resume treatment for his vertigo symptoms. All signs indicate Hiller won’t be back anytime soon, as the further the Ducks get into the playoffs the least likely they’ll want to give their All-Star goalie a test run. Ray Emery is doing the best he can but when the team gets out-shot, 25-5, for nearly two periods, there’s only so much he can keep out of the net. If the Ducks don’t get through this playoff series, the Hiller situation will be one of the big "what-ifs."
4. Getzlaf gets physical: Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf had an unorthodox stat line in Game 3. He did not get a shot on goal but recorded a team-high seven hits. He was also minus-two for the game but his fight with Mike Fisher of Nashville seemed to inspire the Ducks, as they rallied from a 2-0 deficit with two Teemu Selanne goals late in the second period. Unfortunately, they didn’t take advantage of the momentum swing. Regardless, it’s pretty safe to say Ducks coach Randy Carlyle would rather his top-line quarterback use his stick more and his body less.
5. Three’s a charm: In their five previous trip to the postseason, the Predators have never won three games in a playoff series, something they can accomplish on their home ice tonight. They led Chicago, two games to one, in their quarterfinal series a year ago, but then fell apart at Bridgestone Arena in Game 4 and lost, 3-0. They didn’t win another game in the series and the Blackhawks went on to win the Stanley Cup title. The Predators are hoping for a big-game performance from goalie Pekka Rinne, who has cooled off a bit since Game 1.