Improved playoff performance will benefit Predators ... eventually

Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 8:29pm

Barry Trotz expects the Nashville Predators to be better because of their recent success in the postseason. It just won’t necessarily be in the regular season.

“I don’t think the playoffs and regular season translate as much as you’d think,” the Nashville Predators coach said. “I think it will translate in those hard games better, but over the 82 games I don’t know if it will translate a whole lot better.

“Because we got 99 points [this season], does it mean we’re going to get 120 points [next season]? No. We might get 99 points next year.”

The Predators reached the second round of the NHL playoffs for the first time when they eliminated the Anaheim Ducks in six games during the Western Conference quarterfinals. In so doing, they also won a postseason overtime game for the first time — Game 5, which broke a 2-2 series tie.

In their conference semifinal series against Vancouver, they won an elimination game for the first time ever before they were knocked out with a 2-1 defeat Monday in Game 6. They also won another overtime contest, the first in franchise history that went to a second extra period.

“When playoffs roll around, we’re [going to be] more prepared to raise our level,” Trotz said. “I think it was good this year. … It can be really grinding on you. It takes special guys, and you have to adjust.”

There is nothing to suggest that advancing in the postseason has any noticeable impact on the ensuing regular season.

Anaheim, for example, won the Stanley Cup in 2007 and then experienced a drop in points from the previous campaign each of the next three seasons. Chicago won the Cup last season and then did not secure a playoff berth until the final day of the 2010-11 schedule — and did so only then because the Dallas Stars lost.

The Minnesota Wild reached the conference championship in their first trip to the playoffs and then missed out on a postseason berth each of the next two years.

It took the Predators until their sixth playoff appearance before they finally won a round.

“What set us up for having success is that we had to play 20 playoff games before we made the playoffs,” Trotz said.

Nashville won 11 times and earned 23 points in its final 15 regular-season contests as it surged from 11th place to fifth in the Western Conference standings. That success, Trotz figured, carried over into the opening round against the Ducks.

Now, they hope, that experience will provide a residual effect when — or if — they make the postseason a year from now.

“I think it can,” captain Shea Weber said. “I think we learned that we need to be ready to step up. When we get past the first round, we need to be ready to go. Game 1 [against Vancouver] we weren’t and it was very apparent.

“We can’t be satisfied with getting past the first round.”

Briefly


• Nashville signed Mattias Ekholm to an entry-level contract Thursday.

The fourth-round pick in 2009 (102nd overall) is expected to play in North America next season. He becomes the sixth of the Predators’ 10 selections that year under contract.

Ekholm, a 6-foot-4, 204-pound defenseman, was the Swedish Elite League rookie of the year. He was fourth among all blue liners in goals (10) and points (33).

1 Comment on this post:

By: c.brooks on 5/13/11 at 2:04

The double overtime game with Vancouver was the second in franchise history that went to a second overtime. There was one against San Jose that went to a fifth period. This one was just the first one they had won going that far.