After becoming public enemy number 1 in the province of Alberta, dispatching the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers in successive series, the Anaheim Ducks now move on to play the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference. The Preds, as the 8th seed (if the NHL were to still seed teams) surprisingly swept the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1st round, before taking care of the St. Louis Blues in six games in round 2. It will be a rematch from a year ago, when they met in the 1st round. The Predators were the latest team to have beaten the Ducks in a game 7 at the Honda Center, until Anaheim was able to break that curse this year against Edmonton.
The Predators have one of the best defense in the league, led by Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and P.K. Subban. The group can also get it done offensively, having scored 9 goals and 27 points total so far, numbers that will no doubt continue to go up. In fact, they might need to, as the Predators big 3 in Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, and Viktor Arvidsson were effectively shut down by the Blues in round 1. Then again, the threesome put up big numbers against the Blackhawks in the opening round. If they get going, then the Ducks will be in tough.
Down 2-0 to the Oilers last round, Ducks' captain, Ryan Getzlaf, decided to man up, put his team on his back, and carried them to a 3-2 win and getting them back into the series. He was a man on a mission for the rest of the series, even bringing Corey Perry back from the doldrums. Stop him and the Predators win make even more history by reaching their first ever Stanley Cup Final.
In net, hands down, the edge goes to Pekka Rinne and the Predators. The long serving Predators' goaltender leads the playoffs in goals against (1.37), save percentage (.951), and shutouts (2). The man is so good, he even recorded 2 assists against the Blackhawks.
John Gibson showed resilience after getting pulled twice, and playing great in net for Anaheim. After giving up a strange opening goal in game 7 against Edmonton, Gibson shut the door the rest of the way. As great as his ability to bounce back, that can not happen again if the Ducks are to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since they won it all in 2007 against the Ottawa Senators.
Prediction: Nashville in 6.