Predators far from satisfied with 1st playoff win

The Nashville Predators are happy after winning their first

playoff series in their sixth try, and they’re also far from

satisfied.

Nobody remembers who wins in the first round, defenseman Ryan

Suter said, so there’s no time for the young Predators to start

celebrating.

”If we win the Stanley Cup, then sure,” Suter said.

The small-market team in the nontraditional hockey market has

bigger goals after being eliminated early in the playoffs six of

the past seven seasons.

”Now we’re making history,” coach Barry Trotz said. ”We’re a

young franchise that is trying to go deep.”

Trotz gave the Predators the day off Monday following a physical

and bruising opening series against the Anaheim Ducks. Nashville

closed it out with a 4-2 win in Game 6 on Sunday and now has to

wait to see if it will begin the Western Conference semifinals at

Vancouver or Detroit.

These Predators, who went into the postseason as the West’s No.

5 seed, are playing even better than they did in finishing off the

regular season.

”Exciting for them. They’ve drafted great for a long time,”

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Monday. ”Every year, I hear

Nashville has overachieved, and yet, when I see their lineup at the

start of the year, I wonder how a team with Pekka Rinne in net,

(Shea) Weber and Suter on the back end overachieved? To me, that

seems to be like the best. Good for Trotz and those guys. (general

manager) Dave Poile has done a good job.”

Nashville closed the season with a flourish, averaging 3.33

goals in the final 15 games, and carried it over to the playoffs.

It scored 22 goals in six games against Anaheim, and the only

Predators who played in the series and didn’t record a point were

backup goalie Anders Lindback and defenseman Shane O’Brien.

The Predators got six points from Mike Fisher and five from

captain Weber. They also got a career-best five points from Jordin

Tootoo, who had assists on the winning goals in Games 5 and 6.

”We scored more goals in the series than we ever have and gave

up more goals than we ever have,” Trotz said. ”So it was a

totally different animal to slay if you will.”

Trotz calls it the Predator way, and it certainly has worked for

the franchise that still has the same coach and general manager

that started the team that hit the ice in 1998-99. Poile has built

Nashville mostly through the draft, with forward David Legwand, who

capped Sunday’s win with an empty-net goal, his first pick.

Poile’s work in building this roster made him a finalist for

general manager of the year.

The roster also features other draft picks, including Rinne, a

Vezina Trophy finalist. Weber became a Norris Trophy finalist on

Monday. Defenseman Jonathon Blum and forward Blake Geoffrion helped

Nashville finish the season with the NHL’s fifth-youngest active

roster with an average age of 26 years, 140 days.

Poile also landed left wing Sergei Kostitsyn, brought in last

offseason from Montreal, and O’Brien through trades. His biggest

move came Feb. 10 when he sent his first-round pick this June and

what will now be a third-round pick in 2012 to Ottawa for center

Fisher.

Trotz repeatedly has mentioned the local ownership group’s

support for making that deal happen.

”We don’t even get in the playoffs without the commitment of

getting Mike Fisher in this deal … A lot of people say you have

to do a little different than we do, but it’s about winning for

us,” Trotz said. ”It’s not about salary caps. It’s about winning,

getting players here and getting the win. … Players love to play

here. This city is a fantastic city with a great fan base.”

AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Detroit contributed to this

story.