Western Conference Quarterfinal
Ducks vs. Nashville Predators at Honda Center, 7:30 p.m.
Five storylines to track:
1. Ellis to start? With vertigo-like symptoms still affecting Jonas Hiller and Ray Emery slow to return from a lower-body injury, Dan Ellis was the first goalkeeper off the ice at Wednesday's morning skate, a good indication he'll start against the Predators. Ellis was sharp last week, stopping 80 of 83 shots in two victories against the Kings and a relief appearance against San Jose after Emery departed midway through the second period. Ellis’ only other postseason experience came with Nashville in 2008, when he played all six games in an opening-series loss to Detroit. The following season he was beat out for the starting job by Pekka Rinne, the starting goalkeeper for the Predators tonight.
2. Rinne is a winner: Getting the puck past Rinne is no easy task. He was second in the league in save percentage (.930) and third in goals-against average (2.12), and has been especially tough on the Ducks in his career. “Their goaltending is the biggest reason they are where they are,” said Anaheim forward Teemu Selanne. The Predators monitored Rinne’s regular-season workload in hopes of having him fresher for the playoff run. Look for the Ducks to attempt to impede Rinne’s vision by getting their big bodies in front of the net.
3. Scoring machine: Corey Perry has led the NHL in goals, tied for the league lead in game-winning goals (11) and was third in points (98). Probably most telling of his value is his league-leading 21 third-period goals. No other NHL player had more than 18.
4. Extra special teams: Games are won and lost on the power play and that’s especially true in the postseason. Nashville is abysmal on the power play but pretty good at killing them off. The Predators were fifth-best in the regular season on the penalty kill and did not allow a man-advantage goal in their last six games. Against the Ducks this season, Nashville killed 14 of 17 penalties. The Ducks, meanwhile, had the third-most efficient power play during the regular season and were especially hot down the stretch, scoring 16 power-play goals in the last 11 games.
5. Been there, done that: One area in which the Ducks own a decisive edge is playoff experience. Perry, Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf, Francois Beauchemin, Todd Marchant and George Parros were each members of the Anaheim team that won the 2007 Stanley Cup title. “When you prepare a team for the playoffs, that’s one of your strengths,” said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “You have younger players who have competed in numerous playoff series and intense ones, and they should be able to transfer some of their knowledge and experience onto the younger players.”