Most folks who travel to Anaheim California go with small children and want to visit Disneyland for a fun vacation. The Nashville Predators (2-2) are all business on their trip as they prepare to play the Anaheim Ducks (2-2) in game five of their Western Conference first round playoff series.
Follow the jump for the nasty stuff...
Every game, it seems, we say that this is the most important game of the season but at this time of year that applies to every game a team plays and this is especially true tonight. Statistics show that when a series is tied at two each, the winner of game five takes the series 84,6% of the time since the lockout.
There has been so much bad blood in this series so far you have to wonder what will happen tonight. (This is where the warning comes in - nasty stuff to follow)
In game one, the Predators prevailed in spite of ongoing thuggishness for the whole contest by an assortment of Ducks. The officials ended up letting the game get out of hand when the Preds went up 4-0 and eventually handed out a pair of game misconducts at the end that did noting to make an impression on Anaheim.
In game two, things really kicked into high gear when the Ducks Bobby Ryan stomped on Jon Blums foot with his skate and received a two game suspension. There was also a ticking time bomb in the form of a video clip of an alleged Jerred Smithson dive that would not go off until after game three.
Game three in Nashville was the closest to a real game in the whole series. It was marred by a fight between Mike Fisher and Ryan Getzlaf. Teemu Selanne also boiled over and went on an expletive filled tirade after the game.
Then came the Lady Gaga inspired two days off when Ducks GM Bob Murray resurrected the ill will from game two and called the Predators a bunch of divers. So the arena was renamed the Bridgestone Aquatic Center for a day and the Predator players were so distracted by the accusations they forgot that there was a game on Wednesday night and did not show up.
During the second period of the game four, Marty Erat was knocked out by Jarkko Ruutu, a player that has no skills other than being a head hunter, and put the Preds in a position where they will probably be without one of their top scorers for the rest of the series (year?).
A one game suspension to Ruutu means nothing as he is easily replaceable by any of numerous Duck goons waiting in the wings.
So all that being said, you really have to wonder what kind of death, destruction, and maiming of hockey players will come out of tonight's game. The 9 p.m. start should insure that small children will be in bed and not see the probable R-rated affair.
The Ducks' Teemmu Selanne is leading all playoff scorers with five goals. Corey Perry has the most playoff points with two goals and six assists. Ryan Getzlaf (2g, 4a) is also among the league leaders.
The Predators have had more balanced scoring and are led by Mike Fisher (3g, 2a) , Shea Weber (2g, 2a), and Sergei Kostitsyn (0g, 4a).
The Predators will send the Vezina nominated Pekka Rinne (2-2-0, 3.73, .860) back in to their net. Rinne has not matched his regular season success in the playoffs and really needs to steal a game tonight. The Ducks will counter with Ray Emery ( 2-1-0, 3.02, .899) who has been surprising in games three and four after looking shaky in game two.
The Predators will travel on Saturday and play game six on Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Bridgestone Arena.
Other previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Robby Stanley, Marc Torrence, Paul McCann, Fang Faction, The Tennessean, and Predators.com.
Previews from the Southland come from from The OC Register, Long Beach Press Telegram, L A Times, Ducks Blog, Quackalakin', Anaheim Calling, Battle of California, Ducks and Cover, Ducks Daily Blog, and Ducks and Pucks.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass