GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 27: Alexander Radulov #47 and Gabriel Bourque #57 of the Nashville Predators attempt to score on goaltender Mike Smith #41 of the Phoenix Coyotes in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on April 27, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Predators 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
At 5 p.m. MST this evening in Glendale, the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators resume their battle for a place in the NHL Western Conference Final. The Coyotes keep winning OT games, but at some point the puck is going to slide the other way if Phoenix keeps heading to OT. All it takes is an innocent looking shoot to go off a body part. The Predators imposed their will on the Coyotes in the latter stages of Game One. The Coyotes can't afford to keep relying on Mike Smith to bail them out. Phoenix needs to look to control the action again in Game Two.
Five For Winning
1. Keep Foot on the Gas for 60 minutes. At some point Phoenix is going to get burned by giving away leads and getting pinned in their own zone for long stretches of time.The Yotes need to luck to extend leads late in games, not bunker in and hope to hold on. As we've seen repeatedly in the playoffs all that does is lead to overtime hockey.
2. The Power Play. The good news in the first game of the series was the Desert Dogs got power play goal early in Game 1 off an outstanding shot by Radim Vrbata. The bad news was the ensuing power plays looked below average for the most part. The Preds penalty kill appeared to be aggressive with the whomever had the puck on the Yotes two subsequent power plays after Vrbata's goal. If the Preds continue to be so aggressive opportunities should arise if the Yotes are moving their feet and the puck.
3. Match Nashville's intensity - For the 3rd period and OT in Game One the Coyotes looked lifeless and were extremely lucked Nashville didn't win the game. The Coyotes only had one time where they had back to back shifts where their intensity matched that of the Preds during the lat two frames of action. If that happens again they will most likely not be enjoying a win in Game 2.
5. Penalties. Draw more. Take Less. The penalty differential was a -2 for Phoenix in Game One.
|2011 - Rostislav Klesla||65||3||10||13||13||54||0||0||0||87|
While Keith Yandle and young phenom Oliver Ekman-Larrson have gotten higher billing all season long, Rusty is the guy who has been the Coyotes' defensive stalwart. Now in the postseason he's not only playing great in the defensive zone, but he leads the Coyotes blueline corps in goals (2) and points (6). He wasn't on the ice for any of the Preds goals in Game 1 and scored a goal.
|2011 - Alexander Radulov||9||3||4||7||3||4||0||0||0||21|
The skilled winger set up shop behind Mike Smith's cage on a number of occasions in Game 1. His passes from behind the net (and from other spots) just missed teammates sticks who could have had quality scoring chances. The Yotes need to keep the talented winger corralled.
Likely Starting Goaltenders
|2011 - Mike Smith||67||3903||38||18||144||2.21||2066||1922||.930|
|2011 - Pekka Rinne||73||4169||43||18||166||2.39||2153||1987||.923|
Both teams are about as healthy as possible given the time of year.
Phoenix Coyotes Injuries
Nashville Predators Injuries
Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)
|Player||Injury Type||Injury Date|
For the Nashville perspective, check out our friends at On the Forecheck.