The Ducks have secured a playoff spot, but for the last game of the season, that also punches their ticket in the race for fourth place. It's so wide open right now that the Ducks could end up playing a handful of any of the Western Conference's postseason hopefuls.
So, Arthur, looking at the potential matchups, which team are you most afraid to see Anaheim play in the first round?
I don't know if there's a team that I'm truly afraid of. There are ways to explain away virtually every team on the list. You can say Detroit has slumped. You can say Vancouver hasn't been playing playoff race hockey to end its season, and the Ducks have played a majority of one goal games against the West powerhouse.
But, I suppose, the fear for me is finishing 8th, and having the road to travel be so much harder because of it. So, I'm afraid of a situation where the Ducks would have to knock off the Canucks then every higher seed with home ice advantage in succession.
The team I'm most afraid of in the playoffs is the Nashville Predators. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something about the way they play that bothers me. The Ducks were 1-3-0 against the Preds this year. Among the playoff teams, that's tied with Detroit for the least amount of points claimed in a season series.
The reason why I fear Nashville more than Detroit is that you can't grind down the Preds. Ducks-Wings is a legitimate rivalry. In a rivalry, you never know what can happen. But the Preds just don't make a lot of mistakes. They move the puck very well. Pekka Rinne is having a fantastic year, and would probably be my choice for the Vezina. You know, if I was important enough to vote. All of it adds up to some games that were very frustrating for the Ducks.
Nashville is one of the best coached teams in the league. The best way to beat them is usually with a finesse game, think Detroit or Vancouver. That's not really the Ducks game. Do we have players with skill? Sure, but we usually want to get down into dirty areas and pound out a couple of goals. The Ducks like to win with ugly goals; Nashville doesn't give those up easily. There's something about this team that the Ducks just seem to have trouble solving. If I was forced to pick a team I'd like to avoid, it would have to be Nashville.