The Nashville Predators are having one of their best postseasons ever, after overcoming the Blues 4-2 in the second round and sweeping the Chicago Blackhawks in round one. Players like Ryan Ellis and Colton Sissons have both shown their worth during this year’s playoffs. Ellis leads the team with points so far, registering nine in 10 games. Sissons’ has had six points in the same amount of games, which is impressive considering he’s only four points short of what he registered in 58 regular season games. With the Predators looking as well as they have, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Sissons break that 10 point mark.
The Anaheim Ducks have also had a noteworthy postseason. After sweeping the Calgary Flames in the first series, they faced the Edmonton Oilers in round two. After a combined 45 goals, the Ducks topped the Oilers 2-1 in Game Seven. They’ve been led by Ryan Getzlaf (15 points) and Jakob Silfverberg (11 points) after 11 games.
Now the two teams meet in the Western Conference Finals. They’ve faced off twice before in the history of the two teams, in the first round of the 2011 and 2016 playoffs. Both times Anaheim challenged the Predators, but Nashville came out on top. In 2011, the series went six games; in 2017 the Ducks were able to extend the series one more game.
History of a Series – Nashville Predators vs Anaheim Ducks 2011 and 2016 Playoffs
2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs: First Round
After a hard fought 2010-11 season, the Predators and Ducks were tied with 99 points. Considering the Ducks had a combined 43 regulation and overtime wins, compared to the Predators 38, they had home-ice advantage. They also looked very strong offensively. Four players in Anaheim had over 70 points during the regular season; including Corey Perry setting his career high that year with 98 points.
This was intimidating compared to the Nashville Predators point leaders. Martin Erat and Sergei Kostistyn tied for the team lead in points; both having only 50. Looking at the rest of the team’s roster, they had a depth in scoring. Without a superstar, it was that depth that ultimately helped the Predators win the series.
Mike Fisher was traded to the Nashville Predators at the trade deadline in 2011, in exchange for a first round draft pick in that year’s draft, and a conditional 2012 draft pick. Fisher had a total of 36 points in 82 games, which would’ve placed him seventh on the team’s point list. He showed up strong in the playoffs though, registering two goals in the first game. This game set the tone for the entire series, as the Predators came out on top 4-1. Pekka Rinne also showed his strength in Game One, stopping 27 of 28 shots.
Fisher wasn’t the only one who helped get the Predators past the first round though. Similar to the regular season, they had contributions throughout the line-up. Even fourth liner Jordin Tootoo scored a goal in Game Three.
As for Anaheim, most of their scoring came from Selanne and Perry like many would’ve guessed. Selanne had six goals in the six game series. They also had a lot of help from their goaltender at the time, Ray Emery. He had three games where he saved more than 30 shots, and stood strong despite being bombarded by the Predators offense.
In total, there was a combined 42 goals in six games. The series became an offensive showdown, and Nashville ultimately won because they had more depth on both offense and defense. They banded together as a team, whereas Anaheim seemed to rely on their stars. Nashville didn’t make it past the second round, though, where they were trumped by the Vancouver Canucks in six games.
2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs: First Round
The 2015-16 season was interesting for both teams. Nashville made a blockbuster trade in order to acquire Ryan Johansen from the Columbus Blue Jackets, trading away Seth Jones. Anaheim had also made their fair share of deals at the deadline, giving up Carl Hagelin in favor of David Perron. They also lost Patrick Maroon and Jiri Sekac, but acquired Ryan Garbutt and Jamie McGinn.
Looking at the stats of their players, Filip Forsberg led the Predators with 64 points and Getzlaf led the Ducks with 63. Both teams had a decent amount of production from the entire lineup, and Nashville was the underdog going into the series. The Ducks had won the Pacific Division, and came second in the Western Conference. The Predators came in as the top wildcard team.
Despite facing a team that had clearly shown their ability to win during the regular season, the Preds weren’t intimidated and started the series with two 3-2 wins. Both games were hard fought, and again Rinne was strong. He saved 27 shots in both games. Their scoring came mostly from their top six forwards, who were the biggest threat going into the series. John Gibson played the first two games for Anaheim, and did fairly well. He saved a combined 54 out of 60 shots, including a 30-save performance in Game One.
Gibson’s effort wasn’t good enough for the Ducks, though, who replaced him with Frederik Andersen for the rest of the series. Andersen was a key to the Ducks wins in the next three games, and he showed that he would be from his first start. He shut out the Predators with 27 saves. Also in Game Three, the Ducks saw a lot more production from their next three lines, giving the top three somewhat of a break. Amongst the goal scorers were Chris Stewart and McGinn, both players who had a somewhat troublesome regular season.
Anaheim got a big boost after Game Three, and carried their strong play into the next two games. Again receiving scoring throughout the lineup. The Ducks topped the Preds 5-2 and 4-1 in Game Four and Game Five respectively. Now ahead in the series 3-2, it seemed like the Ducks had a series win looming in Game Six.
The Predators thought differently though, and the same strengths that showed through in the first two games showed through once again. James Neal and Mattias Ekholm both scored their second goals of the series, and Rinne came up big with 26 saves. The Predators held the Ducks off and forced a Game Seven with a 3-1 win.
Game Seven was exciting, and both teams looked strong. The Predators scored twice early in the first period, but were shut down by Anaheim after that. In total, they were only able to register 20 shots on Andersen for the game. Meanwhile, the Ducks were bombarding Rinne with shots. In the last two periods, they had 28 shots. Only one passed Rinne though, coming not even two minutes into the third. Ryan Kesler scored his fourth goal of the series on a power play. It was the Ducks fourth power play goal in the series. They tallied 15 shots against Rinne in the third period, including countless close calls. The best chance was Hampus Lindbohm‘s shot, which rang off the crossbar after hitting Rinne’s pad.
The Ducks outplayed the Predators all game. After the game, Andrew Cogliano even said, “I thought we dominated them all game,” and Predators defenseman Roman Josi gave his opponent credit saying the Ducks played most of the game in the offensive zone. He credited the Predators strong defense for the win though, saying it came through in the end. Rinne also had an amazing game. Thanks to his play, Nashville was able to hand the Ducks their fourth Game Seven loss in four years.
The Predators faced another Game Seven in Round Two, but lost to the San Jose Sharks 5-0.