Corey Perry would just like to point out that somewhere
underneath the allegedly dirty hits, the suspensions and the
press-conference posturing, there’s quite a memorable playoff
series going on between the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville
A 2-2 series with clutch goals, wild momentum swings and a nasty
edge – which is just the way the Ducks like their hockey.
Anaheim and the Predators will begin the best-of-three finish to
their first-round brawl Friday night with Game 5 at Honda
”There’s been some big hits, and you’ve got to fight for every
inch on the ice,” said Perry, the NHL postseason scoring leader
with eight points through four games. ”They’re a team that likes
to play the body, and so do we. It’s a great physical series. It’s
Another game led to another suspension Thursday, with Ducks left
wing Jarkko Ruutu banned from Game 5 after colliding with Martin
Erat during Anaheim’s series-evening 6-3 victory in Game 4. Ruutu
is a minor contributor to the Ducks, but the Predators lost a much
more valuable player: Erat was Nashville’s co-scoring leader, but
he didn’t make the trip to Orange County for Game 5.
The hit led to another round of verbal spin by both coaches.
Anaheim’s Randy Carlyle called the NHL’s criteria for discipline
”To me, it’s absurd that there’s even mention of a hearing when
it’s a shoulder-to-shoulder hit, and a guy passes the puck,” said
Carlyle, who wondered why the NHL didn’t investigate Jordin
Tootoo’s cross-check to the head of Anaheim defenseman Toni Lydman
in the final minute of Game 4.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz saw a different play – and an
additional reason to lament the collision.
”It was a late hit,” Trotz said. ”To me, the Ducks are the
ones whining and complaining that they are the ones being targeted
or whatever, but they have had a guy suspended, late hit, we lose a
good player. Ruutu didn’t even dress (earlier in the series). He’s
a 5-minute player for them, and we lose a top player.”
While both teams lost a player for Game 5, the Ducks are getting
a big contributor back.
High-scoring left wing Bobby Ryan sat out the Ducks’ last two
games in Nashville under suspension for stomping on Jonathon Blum’s
foot in the waning moments of Game 2. Ryan scored two goals that
night, and he’s well-rested after two nights of watching Anaheim
from a luxury box.
So did the suspension change anything about Ryan, who has never
had a reputation for dirty play?
”I don’t think it can,” said Ryan, a 34-goal scorer in the
regular season. ”Obviously, I’ve had nothing like this before,
being called a dirty player. I won’t change a thing – just be a
little more careful not to stomp on anybody’s foot. I’m just glad
the guys won (Game 4) to take some pressure off the
Ryan is expected to resume his role on Anaheim’s top line with
Perry and captain Ryan Getzlaf, although Carlyle is still
contemplating his lineup after rookie Brandon McMillan excelled on
that wing in Nashville. The Ducks went straight from the airport to
Honda Center for practice Thursday, although Getzlaf and goalie Ray
Emery were among the players who did little or nothing.
The Predators worked out before traveling Thursday, hoping to
shake off the shock of a rough finish to Game 4. Nashville twice
rallied from deficits to tie it heading to the third period, but
Perry’s short-handed goal set off a three-goal avalanche and chased
Pekka Rinne, reducing the Predators’ formidable goalie to a
”You take this kind of game personally a little bit,” Rinne
said. ”You don’t feel good about the game ending like that, but at
the same time, you have no other choice. It’s the best time of the
year, and you just have to respect this situation and bounce
The Predators’ problems this season have been mostly related to
an often-punchless offense, yet they’ve scored at least three goals
in every game of the series. Instead, Nashville’s formidable
defense has struggled to keep up with the Ducks’ star-studded
offense, which has scored 14 goals in the past three games.
Nashville is doing its best not to think about last season’s
playoff experience in the franchise’s fifth consecutive first-round
series defeat. The Predators had a 2-1 series lead over Stanley Cup
champion Chicago, but lost Game 4 in discouraging shutout fashion –
and then blew a lead with 13.6 seconds left in an eventual overtime
loss in Game 5.
”Now it’s time to really show that what kind of group of guys
that we are,” Rinne said. ”It was the same situation last year up
in Chicago. I think we can go back and little bit and learn from
AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker in Nashville contributed to