Game 2: Nashville @ Anaheim

Posted: 04/15/2011 by bc in Uncategorized

In game one of last year’s playoffs the Nashville Predators upset the eventual Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks. That team celebrated the franchise’ first ever playoff road win and then watched the series slip away over the next games.

This team, in this time was decidedly different according to Josh Cooper writing for The Tennessean. Players wore grins, but there was little celebration. A few guys munched on pizza. “We can’t make a big deal out of the things you need to do, the things you need to be able to do to get to your goal,” captain Shea Webersaid Thursday.

It doesn’t get much more serious and down to earth than these Predators.

These Nashville Predators are a team that defines success as taking the next step. In this case the next step is getting beyond the quarter-final round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Yesterday this blog covered Randy Carlyle’s options and what I think he should do. Today we’ll look at what he will do. Granted it involves some logical deduction which is still speculation, not fact. As much I’d like to see system tweaked for game 2, I don’t think it will happen, unless the players taken it upon themselves.

Randy Carlyle has always been quick to change his forward lines and D pairings. He’s not so quick, often painfully, to tweak the playbook. So look for one maybe more personnel changes tonight.

First Ray Emery announced that he’s ready to go and will. Dan Ellis played well and the game one loss isn’t his fault. This is the playoffs and playing well isn’t good enough. Winning is all that matters. I don’t know yet that Ray Emery is a much better goaltender than Dan Ellis. Razor Ray’s aggressive style seems to suit our Ducks a bit better though. One thing the feisty Randy Carlyle values is aggressiveness.

Another reason to go with Emery is that swapping out the goalie changes things up without shaking things up. Given the result, we need some change.

As a player, I always felt a sense of relief that I wasn’t getting benched and appreciated the opportunity for redemption whenever the coach changed the goalie. This is of course why coaches make the change. You feel bad for your teammate who sits. At the same time you welcome your teammate who’s in. Most important though you recommit.

Toni Lydman didn’t have his best game as a Duck Wednesday and it showed up in reduced ice time. Lydman’s ATOI was 22:10 during the season. He played just 16:22 in game one. It was interesting change. Lydman was second only to Francois Beauchemin in PK TOI but played only 10 minutes even strength. Is he hurt?

Obviously, we need more from Toni Lydman. If he is too hurt to play, look for Andreas Lilja to get the call. I like Andy Sutton but he simply hasn’t got the lateral movement to stay with guys like Sullivan, Erat and Hornqvist.

When a coach looks to make changes up top, it almost always involves the pivotal third line. I don’t look for Bobby Ryan to get moved off the top line. RC tends to keep the big three together when he has to win. If Carlyle uses his hook upfront the most likely candidate is Matt Belesky. His first penalty, for cross checking in the offensive zone is in excusable. The Preds capitalized on Weber’s blast. His second for boarding on Kostitsyn was a bad break. Belesky was also on the ice when Mike Fisher scored his second goal of the night.

If there’s a change up top look for it on the depth lines. Carlyle has lots of options as the practice Line Rushes as reported by the OCR indicate:

Getzlaf-Ryan-Perry; Koivu-Blake-Selanne; Bonino-Belesky-McMillan; Marchant-Winchester-Sexton and Chipchura-Ruutu-Parros.

Regardless of what RC does, only the result matters.

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