Predators, Canucks kick off second round of NHL playoffs

Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 12:18am

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The schedule for the Nashville Predators’ Western Conference semifinal series with the Vancouver Canucks finally was set following the conclusion of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday night.

The NHL announced early in the day that Nashville and Vancouver would open at 8 p.m. (CDT) Thursday at GM Place. Dates and times for the remaining six games were determined later once national television interests in the United States and Canada were resolved.

It is the first of the four conference semifinal series to commence.

The series comes to Nashville for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively. Start times for each of those games is yet to be determined.

Game 6, if necessary, will be May 9 at Bridgestone Arena. The start time for that contest also is yet to be determined.

Two of the contests — Game 2 and Game 5, both at Vancouver — are slated for exclusive national telecasts on Versus. The other games will be broadcast regionally on regular Predators’ outlets.

The complete schedule:

Game 1: at Vancouver, 8 p.m. Thursday
Game 2: at Vancouver, 8 p.m., Saturday
Game 3: at Nashville, TBD, Tuesday
Game 4: at Nashville, TBD, Thursday
Game 5: at Vancouver, 7 p.m., May 7 (if necessary)
Game 6: at Nashville, TBD, Tuesday (if necessary)
Game 7: at Vancouver, TBD, May 9 (if necessary)

Lining up: Much like Anaheim, the Canucks relied on one line for much of their offense during the regular season as a whole and in the four meetings with the Predators.

Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Alexandre Burrows combined for 76 goals. Daniel Sedin, was the NHL’s top point producer with 104.

That trio accounted for four of the six goals scored against the Predators as the teams split the regular season series. Nashville had eight goals — from seven different players — in those four games.

“That’s how we are built,” left wing Martin Erat (one goal, two assists) said. “We are not built around one guy or two guys. We have four lines and six [defensemen] who can score.

“Every game somebody steps up and that’s a big part of our team. That’s our identity.”

Fresh faces: Nashville added defenseman Teemu Laakso and goalie Chet Pickard to the roster.

The prospects provide some extra bodies for practice purposes. Pickard’s presence means that Pekka Rinne can rest the days between games and the shooters can still work against a net that is guarded.

Laakso gives the Predators seven defensemen for the first time since Francis Bouillon sustained a season-ending concussion in mid-January.

The two were added even though Milwaukee advanced to the second round of the American Hockey League playoffs with a 3-2 double overtime victory Tuesday over Houston.

Regular season series: Some notable numbers from the four regular season meetings …

The Canucks outshot the Predators 132-99 and their shot total increased with every period (35-45-52). Nashville’s shots declined with each period (38-32-29).

Three of the Predators’ eight goals were scored by players added in the final weeks of the season — two by Mike Fisher, one by Blake Geoffrion.

Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler, named a Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) finalist Wednesday was a minus-5 in the four games — the worst rating for any player on either team.

Briefly: Shea Weber’s three goals are the most for any defenseman still in the postseason. Chicago’s Duncan Keith had four in seven games against Vancouver. … Nick Spaling is the leader in playoff shooting percentage (28.6) for the four remaining Western Conference teams. … There were three shorthanded goals scored in the opening round of the playoffs. Nashville and Vancouver each allowed one. … The Predators got five points from rookies (two each by Geoffrion and Jonathon Blum, one by Matt Halischuk) in the opening round. Vancouver had one.