Nashville Predators @ Phoenix Coyotes Game 2 Preview: Time To Take Control

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.

4. The Dots. The Coyotes controlled the faceoff circles in game and a Martin Hanzal faceoff win in OT led directly to Ray Whitney's game winning goal. The Yotes need to keep control

5. Penalties. Draw more. Take Less. The penalty differential was a -2 for Phoenix in Game One.

Key Players

Rostislav Klesla

#16 / Defenseman / Phoenix Coyotes

6-3

221

Mar 21, 1982

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
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.

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


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


Mike Smith

#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes

6-4

215

Mar 22, 1982

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2011 - Mike Smith 67 3903 38 18 144 2.21 2066 1922 .930


Pekka Rinne

#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators

6-5

209

Nov 03, 1982

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2011 - Pekka Rinne 73 4169 43 18 166 2.39 2153 1987 .923


Injuries

Both teams are about as healthy as possible given the time of year.

Phoenix Coyotes Injuries

No Injuries.

Nashville Predators Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Brian McGrattan other-excused 02/05/2012


For the Nashville perspective, check out our friends at On the Forecheck.

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