2011 NHL Playoff Analysis: Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators, Game 1

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2011 NHL Playoff Analysis: Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators, Game 1
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Game 1 of the Western Conference's 4 vs. 5 matchup between the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators was everything it lived up to be, and yet at the same time comes as quite the shocker to many.

In following with the trend of the season series between the two clubs, the Predators completely ravaged the Ducks defense, winning the game on the road in Honda Center by a score of 4-1.

For the Predators, it's a dream start to their playoff run as they look to finally break through to the second round for the first time in franchise history.

Shea Weber put the Predators on the board early with a power-play goal just 4:13 into the game.

This shows a trend that has killed the Anaheim Ducks all season long: surrendering to an opponent with weak special teams. The Preds finished the regular season ranked 26th with an extra man, yet they buried their first chance.

The Predators also received two tallies from Mr. Underwood, also known as Mike Fisher, who was undoubtedly the best player in the Nashville lineup Wednesday night.

The Nashville defense was spectacular, holding the Ducks to just 27 shots on goal. The only tally of the game came on a 5-on-3 Ducks power play. Pekka Rinne played spectacular in net for Nashville, showing just how well he can use his catching glove.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

For the Ducks, they have a lot of work to do between now and Game 2 on Friday night.

For one, they need to find a way to break open this Nashville defense, which blocked at least 30 more shots on top of the 27 Anaheim got through to Rinne. The top line of Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan was rendered completely ineffective, only managing seven shots on goal.

Additionally, Anaheim needs to keep their cool and stay disciplined when they get frustrated, because let's face it, they're going to be this entire series. Nashville's defense has the Ducks' system pegged and they're going to have to get extremely creative to put a puck in their net. This will result in inevitably a lot of failed attempts on net.

One of the bright spots was Ray Emery coming in to replace Dan Ellis, who stood tall to the six shots he saw. This is definitely comforting to Anaheim, who got a bit of a scare when he left his last start with a mysterious lower-body injury.

And finally, the Anaheim power play unit looked terrible in Game 1.

Absolutely no disrespect to the Nashville penalty killers, who were extremely aggressive and had their sticks in what looked like the right spot every single time Anaheim went to pass the puck, but the Ducks looked like they were completely lost when a man up.

Even the 5-on-3 where Anaheim scored their lone goal of the game was far below stellar in quality, as the Ducks were twice denied entry to the zone by the Preds despite being two men up.

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The Anaheim fans at Wednesday night's game definitely made their displeasure known with a loud chorus of boos, and for very good reason.

 

Predictions for Game 2

 Anaheim needs to find a way to counter back, and after a loss in which they were evidently frustrated, you know they're going to come out angry on Friday. This means they'll be hitting hard, but could possibly also be taking a lot of penalties, which, as we saw in Game 1, can hurt them just as badly. 

Nashville needs to come prepared to be bombarded with physicality, as the Ducks will be hitting every chance they can get. However, aside from that, they need to do exactly what they did Wednesday night. Do not change anything.

I think Game 2 of this series will be much closer and the Ducks will finally get a few breaks in the Nashville defense, but there's a lot to do in Anaheim if they want to make this a reality and hopefully head to Tennessee even at one game each.

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