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.
#74 / Left Wing / Nashville Predators
Mar 20, 1987
|2011 - Sergei Kostitsyn||75||17||26||43||8||34||1||1||3||97|
#12 / Center / Nashville Predators
Jun 05, 1980
|2011 - Mike Fisher||72||24||27||51||11||33||5||0||7||157|
#10 / Left Wing / Nashville Predators
Aug 29, 1981
|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.
#57 / Left Wing / Nashville Predators
Mar 04, 1989
|2011 - Gabriel Bourque||43||7||12||19||-2||6||0||0||1||59|
#11 / Center / Nashville Predators
Aug 17, 1980
|2011 - David Legwand||78||19||34||53||3||26||5||0||2||140|
#47 / Right Wing / Nashville Predators
Jul 05, 1986
|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.
#46 / Right Wing / Nashville Predators
Feb 03, 1985
|2011 - Andrei Kostitsyn||72||16||20||36||-1||26||5||0||5||122|
#13 / Center / Nashville Predators
Sep 19, 1988
|2011 - Nick Spaling||77||10||12||22||-7||18||0||0||3||107|
#27 / Right Wing / Nashville Predators
Jan 01, 1987
|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.
#22 / Right Wing / Nashville Predators
Feb 02, 1983
|2011 - Jordin Tootoo||77||6||24||30||-5||92||1||0||1||136|
#28 / Center / Nashville Predators
Feb 03, 1982
|2011 - Paul Gaustad||70||7||14||21||-1||76||0||0||3||75|
#18 / Right Wing / Nashville Predators
Apr 25, 1985
|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.
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.