VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Nashville Predators players and coaches had a hard time believing that they came out with a sub-par effort in their Western Conference semifinals opener with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.
Alain Vigneault has a hard time believing the Predators were as bad as they have said.
“I can tell you from ice level and from watching my guys bust a gut to earn every inch on the ice, it was a hard-fought battle,” Vigneault said Saturday following his team’s morning skate. “I guess Nashville wasn’t really as pleased with the way they played, but we played hard and we know that we’re matched up against a real tough opponent, that doesn’t give you much and makes you work for every inch.
“We’re going to have our work boots on again tonight.”
The Predators were particularly critical of their play during the early part of the contest. They lost 22 of 25 faceoffs in the first period and were outshot 26-11 through the first two periods.
They have vowed to be better in Game 2 (8 p.m., Versus).
“It’s one of those tings where you look back and you go, ‘What were we doing?’” defenseman Cody Franson said. “In the playoffs you can’t dwell on those things. You have to put it behind you and look forward.
“If we put up a good effort [Saturday] and come away with a split, that’s not the worst-case scenario in the playoffs, being the [visiting] team.”
They’ve already divided opinion on how things went in Game 1.
• On target: Patric Hornqvist has played on national teams with Vancouver’s Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik. As such, he has seen first-hand the understanding that exists between the two.
“They’re so good,” Hornqvist said. “They know exactly what they have with each other. … They make some unbelievable passes. It’s always tape-to-tape. It’s never in the skates, it’s always tape-to-tape even on backhanded passes with no look and things like that.”
The Sedins have played 71 playoff games each in their careers and both have exactly 49 points, which is tied for fifth on the Canucks’ all-time list. Henrik has 17 goals and 32 assists; Daniel has 19 goals, 30 assists.
“They’ve been playing probably a few hours every day since they were kids,” Hornqvist said. “They know exactly where the other one is going.
“We can’t give them time and space out there. If we do that, it could be a long and tough series for us.”
• Rested Rinne: There might come a time when Chet Pickard battles Pekka Rinne for the job as the Predators’ starting goaltender. For now, though, the 2008 first-round draft pick makes Rinne’s job a little easier.
Pickard, who never has played in an NHL game, was recalled earlier in the week to provide an extra body at practice, particular because backup goalie Anders Lindback has had some injury issues. On Thursday, between Games 1 and 2, he took part in Nashville’s workout while Rinne stayed off the ice.
“It’s my call [to practice or not],” Rinne said. “It’s just trying to manage my game, save my energy and be ready when it matters. … So it’s good to have Chet here.”
• Standing pat: Coach Barry Trotz said it is likely he will go with the same lineup in Game 2 but plans to consider possible changes all the way up to faceoff.
“We’ve contemplated some changes,” he said. “I’ll have a couple extra guys out in warmup.”
Given what happened in the opener, he said it would be counterproductive to try and bench players for poor performance.
“If I try to pick one or two players and punish them, then I won’t have any players left,” Trotz said. “I’ll have a goalie and some defensemen.”
• Quote of note: “What we do tonight is going to say a lot about us.” – Trotz, on the anticipated attitude and effort of his team.
• By the numbers: 0 – first-period goals scored by the Predators and Canucks in their five meetings (four regular season, one playoffs) this season.
1 – power play goal at home (15 attempts) by Vancouver during the postseason, which includes four games.
4 – the number of Nashville’s seven playoff games that were tied after two periods. The Predators won three of the four.
5 – the number of Vancouver’s eight playoff games that have been decided by one goal. The Canucks won four of the five.
354 – consecutive sellouts by the Canucks at Rogers Arena, a streak which dates back to Nov. 14, 2002.