Saturday, October 29, 2011

Anaheim and Nashville renew rivalry on Saturday night


(Photo: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

The Nashville Predators play host to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena for the first time since these two teams met in the first round of the playoffs last year.

Last April's playoff series between these two teams was very physical and hard fought. Huge hits, cheap shots, and trash talking were very much a part of the playoff series between the Preds and Ducks last year. Rivalries are created when two teams go through a hard-fought playoff series with each other, but a new season has its way of easing the tension.

"It's a new season. They're a good team. We're a team with a lot of work ahead of us. We're getting better and that's what we have to continue to do," said Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter.

Anaheim is coming into the game with a 5-3-1 record on the year. Teemu Selanne is leading the team in points with nine, which is particularly impressive considering that Selanne is 41 years old.

Nashville won it's first home game of the season on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. With the win, the Predators improved to 4-4-1 on the year. Rookie Craig Smith is off to a great start in his young NHL career. Smith has collected eight points in his first nine games.

My player to watch for Anaheim is Nashville fan favorite Corey Perry. Perry is one of the best pure goal scorers in the game today. Perry, along with Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, form arguably the most formidable line in hockey.

"He's big and strong. He's physical. He's got great hands and good hockey sense. He's a good player," Suter said.

For Nashville, my player to watch is Mike Fisher. Fisher has four points in his first two games of the season after returning from a shoulder injury. His line has been playing very well since he returned to the lineup. The Predators will need his offensive contributions to continue.

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