Canucks look to make it more difficult for Rinne to see shots

Friday, April 29, 2011 at 6:25pm

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — One of the final meetings the Vancouver Canucks had Thursday was one to discuss some tendencies of Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne.

“Obviously, it didn’t work real well,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said with a laugh Friday.

The Canucks were the NHL’s highest scoring team during the regular season with an average of 3.15 goals per game, In four games against Rinne, though, they scored just five times — an average of 1.25.

Things did not change much in the Western Conference semifinal opener between Nashville and Vancouver. Rinne stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced but the Predators fell 1-0.

Rinne has now held the Canucks to one goal or fewer three times in five meetings this season. Before then, the last time Vancouver did not get at least two against Nashville was Nov. 23, 2006 — a span of 13 games.

“He’s going to stop everything — that’s the mindset we have to have,” Vancouver forward Mikael Samuelsson said. “We have to score on second chances.”

Their next chance comes with Game 2 on Saturday (8 p.m., Versus) at Rogers Arena.

“I think you always expect, as the series moves along, every team is going to adjust their style of game,” Rinne said. “I’ll be ready for whatever.”

Canucks players talked about the need to get more bodies to the front of the net more often in order to limit Rinne’s ability to see the puck, which was no surprise to Nashville coach Barry Trotz.

“That’s standard coach-talk,” Trotz said. “… It’s no different than with [Roberto] Luongo. We want to get some traffic. Our goal is to do the same thing they want to do with Pekka.”

If that’s the case, they want Luongo to feel uncomfortable most of the night.

“[Rinne] is one of the best goalies in the league,” Vancouver forward Alexandre Burrows said. “ … We have to get screens. We have to go to the net and push him back in the [crease] a little bit more instead of him coming out and making those big saves.

“We’ll make his life difficult [Saturday].”

Ellis moves up: With the his celebrated junior hockey career over, defense prospect Ryan Ellis has joined the Milwaukee Admirals, who are in the second round of the American Hockey League playoffs.

Ellis, the Predators’ first-round draft pick in 2009, will play the remainder of the season on an amateur tryout agreement. He officially will begin his professional career and start to play under his entry-level contract next season.

Earlier this week, Ellis won the Max Kaminsky Trophy, given annually to the Ontario Hockey League’s top defenseman. He finished his four-year OHL career with 314 points in 226 career contests, which made him the third defenseman in league history with at least 300 career points.

The Admirals opened the second round of the AHL playoffs Friday.

“He’s an all-world junior player,” Trotz said. “What he’s done in junior hockey is absolutely incredible. He’s not a big guy but he plays big.

“He’s going to go down there and see if he can help Milwaukee win a Calder Cup.”

Power-less: The Canucks have failed to score on their last 14 power play attempts, a streak which now covers more than four full games.

They were 0-5 Thursday against Nashville. According to Vigneault, though, Vancouver won 14 of 15 faceoffs and had 12 scoring chances in the 9:16 they played with the man-advantage.

“The way we were playing … makes for a power play that should have success,” Vigneault said. “It did everything it was supposed to do except score … which is a pretty big thing.”

Bad boy: Speaking of the Canucks’ power play … three times in Game 1 they got the man-advantage when Nashville forward Patric Hornqvist was sent to the box. He was called for high-sticking in the first, roughing in the second and tripping in the third.

“It doesn’t happen too often,” Hornqvist, who had 47 penalty minutes during the regular season said. “It’s really bad that it happened in the most important game of the year so far. Great timing.”

Quote of note: “You could tell from their reaction [Thursday] night that they didn’t feel like they didn’t compete hard enough. We’ve seen them really compete in the past. Maybe they were a little off [Thursday] night, but at the same time we can’t focus on what they’re going to do. We have to focus on coming out with an even better effort.” — Burrows, on what he expects from the Predators in Game 2.

Quote of note II: “We have a lot of respect for Nashville and their team. Any team that has a Vezina [finalist] there, a Norris Trophy [finalist] and the balance that they have is a much better team than people are giving them credit for.” — Vigneault, on the Predators.