Predators set for second round

Posted on April 28, 2011

Predators set for second round

The Nashville Predators are ready to face their next challenge and things get underway tonight in Vancouver against the Canucks as the second round of the playoffs get underway.

The Predators are in the Western Conference semifinals for the first time in franchise history and while on paper the Canucks may be considered the favourites there's no denying Nashville's abilities.

The two teams split the season series and while the Canucks were forced to a Game 7 by the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, the Predators eliminated the Anaheim Ducks in six games.

"In the regular season we matched up well against them, but this is a different ball season," said Mike Fisher. "We know that they're going to be hungry and ready. We feel it's going to be a great series."

The Canucks held a 3-0 series lead before allowing the Blackhawks back into the series and even saw Vezina trophy candidate Roberto Luongo pulled in Games 4 and 5 and benched in Game 6 in favour of Cory Schneider, who was unable to finish the game.

The Predators have their own Vezina candidate in Pekka Rinne and he will need to be at his best as the Canucks led the league in offense.

The Predators will also have to deal with the pressure of playing a Canadian opponent which brings with it greater media awareness.

"There will definitely be a little bit more media, the fans will be pumped up and it's going to be a rowdy building," said Fisher. "For the most part guys will get used to it, are used to it. Game days are a time to buckle down and get focused and get what other stuff you need to get done of off days and just be ready to play."

Like Fisher, Jon Blum knows the atmosphere in Vancouver will be extremely different from that in Anaheim.

"The atmosphere in Canada, you can't beat it and I think it's going to be a real pleasure to play in," said Blum, who played in the Western Hockey League with the Vancouver Giants. "It's going to be a hard rink to play in and we're looking forward to the challenge."

Fisher is the Predators most experienced player when it comes to the post-season and while he believes his past experiences have served him well he also knows the excitement many players are feeling at getting past the first round for the first time in their careers.

"It definitely helps some more, the more experience you have, being there definitely helps," added Fisher. "There was good signs in that first round, we found a way to win and that was huge for us, but that's behind us and now. Now it's focusing on Vancouver and what we need to do to beat them. That presents a big challenge, but an exciting one."