WCSF: Phoenix Coyotes vs. Nashville Predators Series Preview: The Forwards

Mar 12, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Nashville Predators center Mike Fisher (12) and Phoenix Coyotes center Daymond Langkow (22) chase after the puck during the second period at Jobing.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE


Well, Phoenix Coyotes fans, I have some good news. The Nashville Predators do not have forwards that are quite as seemingly offensively gifted as Chicago...no Toews, Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Stalberg rolling in a seeming endless cycle for 60 minutes in this series. Which isn't to say that Nashville isn't talented up front, because they have some pretty good forwards as we will discuss after the jump. But I think this match-up is a lot closer than the last series was, and that's a very good thing.

The goal for the Coyotes will remain the same, though - keep these forwards off of the scoreboard as much as possible and counterstrike as opportunities present themselves. Unlike Chicago, however, Nashville will probably take a very similar approach to this series.

1st Line:


Sergei Kostitsyn

#74 / Left Wing / Nashville Predators

6-0

207

Mar 20, 1987



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Sergei Kostitsyn 75 17 26 43 8 34 1 1 3 97


Mike Fisher

#12 / Center / Nashville Predators

6-1

208

Jun 05, 1980



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Mike Fisher 72 24 27 51 11 33 5 0 7 157


Martin Erat

#10 / Left Wing / Nashville Predators

6-0

201

Aug 29, 1981



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Martin Erat 71 19 39 58 12 30 5 1 3 107


Nashville's top offensive unit features one half of the Kostitsyn brothers, Mr. Carrie Underwood and noted Coyotes killer Martin Erat. All three possess offensive firepower and had fairly good seasons for Nashville. Although the line hasn't quite gotten going in the postseason thus far - Kostitsyn (1G, 0A, -2), Fisher (0G, 2A, -1), Erat (0G, 2A, +1) - they were a fairly dynamic trio against the Coyotes in the regular season with Erat leading all Nashville players in scoring against the Coyotes with 1G and 3A. It's not quite as dangerous as Chicago's top line, but they are less inclined to run and gun as well. Wouldn't be surprised to see Tippett matching this unit against the Prime Line.

2nd Line:


Gabriel Bourque

#57 / Left Wing / Nashville Predators

5-10

192

Mar 04, 1989



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Gabriel Bourque 43 7 12 19 -2 6 0 0 1 59


David Legwand

#11 / Center / Nashville Predators

6-2

204

Aug 17, 1980



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - David Legwand 78 19 34 53 3 26 5 0 2 140


Alexander Radulov

#47 / Right Wing / Nashville Predators

6-1

200

Jul 05, 1986



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Alexander Radulov 9 3 4 7 3 4 0 0 0 21


This is the line that has been getting things done for the Preds so far in the playoffs - Radulov (1G, 4A, +5), Legwand (2G, 2A, +5), Bourque (3G, 1A, +5) - and it's one that the Coyotes haven't really seen before as Radulov re-joined the Preds from the KHL after the season series was already over and Bourque only appeared in one of the games. Legwand, on the other hand, is another guy that has frustrated the 'Yotes over the years. Tippett will be watching a lot of film on these guys and devising strategies for how to keep them off the scoresheet. My guess is that those plans include a healthy dose of the Pyatt - Gordon - Korpikoski unit with Klesla and Aucoin on the blue line.

3rd Line:


Andrei Kostitsyn

#46 / Right Wing / Nashville Predators

6-0

214

Feb 03, 1985



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Andrei Kostitsyn 72 16 20 36 -1 26 5 0 5 122


Nick Spaling

#13 / Center / Nashville Predators

6-1

198

Sep 19, 1988



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Nick Spaling 77 10 12 22 -7 18 0 0 3 107


Patric Hornqvist

#27 / Right Wing / Nashville Predators

6-0

188

Jan 01, 1987



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Patric Hornqvist 76 27 16 43 9 28 8 0 3 230


It's the other half of the mafia brothers, a young center I admittedly no very little about, and a guy that commenters from On the Forecheck believe will wreak havoc in Mike Smith's crease during the series. Kostitsyn and Spaling were held scoreless during the regular season series with the Coyotes (1 game and 3 games, respectively), while Hornqvist had 1 goal and 1 assist. During the playoffs, the line has contributed a little, but nothing like the second unit thus far - Kostitsyn (1G, 1A +2), Spaling (0G, 2A, +3), Hornqvist (0G, 1A, +2). This isn't really a traditional checking line, but they'll contribute the timely goal on occasion. I'd expect to see the Boedker - Vermette - Doan line matched up against this unit.

4th Line:


Jordin Tootoo

#22 / Right Wing / Nashville Predators

5-9

199

Feb 02, 1983



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Jordin Tootoo 77 6 24 30 -5 92 1 0 1 136


Paul Gaustad

#28 / Center / Nashville Predators

6-5

212

Feb 03, 1982



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Paul Gaustad 70 7 14 21 -1 76 0 0 3 75


Brandon Yip

#18 / Right Wing / Nashville Predators

6-1

195

Apr 25, 1985



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Brandon Yip 35 3 4 7 1 28 0 0 0 41


Tootoo is really a wildcard in this unit and is as likely to be a spot filled with one of the guys discussed below, but he's the most recognizable guy of the bunch from my perspective, so I included him here. I also HATE Jordin Tootoo because he's a weasel like pest who is prone for playing a bit dirty, but hopefully we won't see any of that in this series. Gaustad and Yip are newer additions to the Preds line-up and the Coyotes have not seen much, if any, from these guys with Nasvhille. They've been decent in the playoffs so far, but it's with limited ice time - Gaustad (1G, 1A, even), Yip (0G, 1A, -1). Gaustad will kill lots of penalties along with Spaling and he's one of their go to faceoff guys. I wouldn't expect to see this line as a unit for more than 5-6 minutes per game. I don't expect as much from this unit as I do from the Coyotes 4th line and it is probably the most glaring mismatch of any of the units.

Wildcards:

Matt Halischuk actually got in more of the playoff games than Tootoo (3 games, 1 assist), and will likely see time on the fourth unit. Craig Smith also appeared in one of the first round games and had a big regular season against the Coyotes, may also see some time on the fourth line.

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