After waiting three days to find out who they’d be facing in the 2nd Round, the Nashville Predators were finally given an answer about 20 minutes ago when the #3 Phoenix Coyotes knocked out the #6 Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 in Game 6 of the 1st Round.
Although Nashville has done much better against Chicago than Phoenix, ending the 2011-12 season 4-1-1, the Predators have, what we think, a better chance mentally against Phoenix than against a fellow Central Division rival like Chicago (i.e. the fans travel better in Chicago).
Nashville finished the 2011-12 season against Phoenix evenly with two wins, two losses, and zero ties, but both teams have top goal tenders with Mike Smith and Pekka Rinne, so both teams will have to keep the physicality up to par in order to get some pucks passed those goliaths.
Whilst waiting for the Eastern Conference to finish up Round 1 (Philadelphia is the only team to advance at this point), players like Hal Gill (who was practicing both yesterday and this morning) should be ready to go by Round 2. Also on the Predators’ side is the fact that Raffi Torres has been knocked out of the series altogether, eliminating any chances of any intentional injuries that may hurt the Predators in the long run.
Since Phoenix is the #3 seed and Nashville is the #4, Games 1, 2, 5, and 7 will be played in Phoenix, giving Nashville at least three potential home games. In other news, St. Louis and L.A. will duke it out, hopefully beating the you-know-what out of each other, wearing each other out for Round 3.
Phoenix will definitely be a challenge for Nashville, but it isn’t anything to fear. With players like Gabriel Bourque and Kevin Klein stepping up, along with the leadership and dependability of Pekka Rinne and David Legwand, the Predators can easily move on to Round 3.
(Photo courtesy of Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)