They aren't the Chicago Blackhawks. They don't touch psychological and competitive nerves quite like the dethroned Stanley Cup champions, who sparked a war of words off the ice and a war of wits on it with the Vancouver Canucks, while providing bulletin-board material during an epic seven-game first-round playoff struggle. They are the Nashville Predators. They take their cue from resilient coach Barry Trotz. They are budget-conscious and businesslike in their approach, ferocious on the forecheck and offensively opportunistic to rank second in postseason scoring. They dispatched the Anahiem Ducks in six games to advance to the Western Conference semifinals for the first time in franchise history to send pulses racing in Music City. And they have emerged from the shadows to command much respect and little ridicule from the masses, including former Predators defenceman Dan Hamhuis. "On paper, they may not look like they have as good a team as others, but they're very good," said the soft-spoken Hamhuis, who spent the last five seasons in Nashville before signing a six-year, $27-million-US contract with the Canucks on July 1. "We don't want that to surprise us or fool us. They had 99 points and they're in the second round for a reason. But we'll be ready." Even though he missed both games this season in Nashville with a concussion, Hamhuis gave the Canucks a scouting report Tuesday in advance of the second-round showdown with the Predators that opens Thursday at Rogers Arena. It touched on how to get to Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne, how to control offensive sparkplug Martin Erat — who's coming off a concussion — and how to penetrate the dynamic defensive duo of Norris Trophy finalist Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.
Dan Hamhuis lists Nashville's strengths
Vancouver Province | Apr 28