After week-long break, Predators ready to get second round of playoffs started
The Nashville Predators open up the Western Conference Semifinals tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes on the road in Glendale, Arizona.
The Coyotes are the third seed in the Western Conference after winning the Pacific Division. Nashville is the fourth seed, but ended the regular season with 104 points to the Coyotes’ 97 points.
The Predators haven’t played since last Friday, having eliminated the Detroit Red Wings in five games to be the first team to advance to the second round.
“We have to make sure our game is ready. We had a little break, and we can’t afford to be rusty. We know they are a good team. We saw what they did against a good team, Chicago,” Predators Captain Shea Weber said. “It has been pretty quick. We practiced hard this week. We had a day off in between to get some rest. The guys are feeling fresh and ready to go.”
The Coyotes and Predators split their season series 2-2, with the away team winning each contest. During the first round of the playoffs, away teams dominated. Nashville won both its contests on the road at Joe Louis Arena. Phoenix also won three contests on the road at the United Center in Chicago.
“I’m really happy we are starting on the road. It is needed for our team. We’ve been at home for probably 10 days now in total. It is time to go on the road. It will be a good way to get back into the swing of things by going into the other team’s den right off the bat,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said.
Phoenix was less successful at home, losing two of the three contests against Chicago at Jobing.com Arena. In fact, the Coyotes traditionally have had problems winning on home ice in the postseason. Since the franchise moved to the desert from Winnipeg, Phoenix has qualified for the playoffs 8 times since 1996. Including this postseason, the Coyotes are 7-16 at home.
It is the first time that the Phoenix Coyotes have ever won a playoff series. Nashville’s win was the second consecutive season in which the Predators moved on after the first round.
Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals starts at 8 p.m. CDT. Game 2 will be held on Sunday, also in Phoenix, before the series moves to Nashville for Games 3 and 4 on Wednesday and next Friday.