Monday, April 23, 2012

Predators will take on Phoenix in second round

On Monday night, the Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Chicago Blackhawks by a 4-0 score to win their Western Conference Quarterfinals series in six games. With Phoenix's win, the Nashville Predators will take on the Coyotes in the second round of the playoffs.

In the four regular season meetings between these two teams, the road team came away with the victory in each game. Nashville got two victories in Glendale over the Coyotes, including a 3-0 shutout victory for Pekka Rinne on his birthday. Phoenix defeated the Predators twice in Bridgestone Arena, including a 5-2 victory in Nashville's regular season home opener.

The obvious spotlight coming into this series in the goaltending matchup. Pekka Rinne has been spectacular for the Predators over the last few years and so far this postseason. He brings a consistent effort on a nightly basis and always seems to give the Predators a chance to win the game.

Mike Smith was sensational for the Coyotes in their first round series against Chicago. He posted a .950 save percentage in the first round, which is spectacular. If both goaltenders are able to continue their excellent play in the second round, goals will be at a premium for both teams.

Nashville and Phoenix play a very similar style. Both are defensively responsible every night, and they rely on opportunistic scoring to win. The Predators are much better equipped offensively this year in the playoffs than they were a year ago. Phoenix has several offensive weapons like Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney that are capable of scoring each time they have the puck. It should be an interesting matchup.