2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Game 1: Nashville Predators vs. Vancouver Canucks @ Rogers Arena
0-1 Final; Vancouver leads the series 1-0
The Predators have already created history in this year's playoffs. For the first time in franchise history, the Predators have won a series and are now in Round 2 - against the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks have exorcised their demons (Chicago Blackhawks) and look to continue their winning way against Nashville.
Tonight, the second round of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs kick off. This series is going to be one for the hockey lovers. Shane O'Brien returns to his old team, Dan Hamhuis faces his old team, Shea Weber and many other Predators return to homeland-BC, and the two Vezina trophy nominees go toe-to-toe in this series. Who will earn the early momentum with a Game 1 win?
With not much history between the two teams, the reaction and the feel was quite different from that of the Chicago series. But after some awkward minutes, the real hockey came out between the two teams. The two got to know each other before the bodies and the shots started coming. Both teams started to play the hard Western style hockey that we are used to seeing. Good defensive action between the two saw great blocks and great body playing! Not to mention the goaltending has been solid on the shots that have made it to the net.
Throughout the regular season, the score had never been greater than two goals and the score has never been a high-roller. It only ever reached a two-goal difference because of an empty-netter. The manner of hockey that Nashville and Vancouver play only allows for so many goals. That's exactly how it was looking like from the getgo.
Then 12:14 into the middle period, the 0-0 deadlock was broken! Kevin Bieksa started the play into the Nashville zone and made the smooth feed to Max Lapierre. Lapierre made the cross-seam pass to Chris Higgins who then scores the game's first goal down the middle, right under the crossbar! The only people to react to it were a few Canucks on the ice and the couple of fans who caught the goal behind the net. Jannik Hansen provided an excellent screen in front of Pekka Rinne and the only thing that confused the refs was the sprawling glove of Rinne that made them believe he caught it - but he didn't! The refs would take a look at the tape, but it didn't take long before the horn sounded loud and proud throughout Rogers Arena.
Barry Trotz may not have been happy with his team's play, but the way that Rinne is playing is more than worthy of the Vezina trophy! The Finnish goaltender faced 30 shots in comparison to Roberto Luongo's 20 saves. If the score is only 1-0 for the Canucks, I think that's a non-disappointment game from Rinne. The rest of the Nashville team though... well, they can step it up a little in Game 2.
(1) Pekka Rinne
(2) Mason Raymond
(3) Roberto Luongo