The boys at On The Forecheck asked me some questions to put on their site, and I'll return the favor by posting Dirk's answers to the Q&A that will appear in tomorrow's Indian.
We've raised the ire of some Preds fans on the blog by calling them a trapping team, but they're certainly not a run-n'-gun outfit either. How will Nashville play this series (please say they'll try and score with us please say they'll try and score with us....)?
I would expect the typical Nashville offensive attack (work the boards and keep the puck on the perimeter, set up a shot from the point and work like hell for rebounds), while defensively, the focus will be on David Legwand's line, which has taken on the heavy hitters all season. Clogging up the neutral zone will certainly be important, but even more so is to attack the Hawks in their own end before they get rolling - particularly until Campbell returns, they need to put pressure on the guys being asked to run the breakout in his place.
Who should Hawks fans keep an eye out for this series?
Patric Hornqvist is like a Tomas Holmstrom who can actually skate. He'll park himself right on top of the Blackhawks' goal crease, and work tirelessly for tips and rebounds. He also has good patience, and doesn't retaliate when opposing defensemen try to rough him up. I'm also looking for big things from Jason Arnott - he's got a significant size advantage over Chicago's centers and D (except for Buff, of course) and he surely senses that he doesn't have too many playoff chances left at age 35. The wild card is going to be rookie Colin Wilson. He has the physical tools to make a big impact on this series, but this is his first playoff experience so you can't be sure what you'll get.
Who do Predators fans fear the most this series?
I'd probably say Jonathan Toews - one of those "Goals of the Year" came when he put an absolutely sick move on Dan Hamhuis earlier this season, and that kind of game-breaking talent is capable of busting through even a solid team effort.
Your special teams are ordinary, is there a particular reason for that?
The power play has stunk for years, so that's no surprise. The consensus opinion there is that the Preds take a pretty obvious plan of attack, setting up Shea Weber for a one-timer. When that gets taken away, the rest of the group doesn't get creative enough to exploit something different. It is unusual to see the Nashville PK doing so poorly this season. That's usually a Top 10 unit under Barry Trotz. There's been some major turnover in the personnel there (gone are Vern Fiddler, Scott Nichol, and Radek Bonk) and the new unit just hasn't gelled.
You're top pairing of Weber-Suter is the envy of most of the league. Is Trotz going to sick them after Toews and Hossa or Patrick Kane?
Weber & Suter usually match up against the top opposing line, but on the road of course you can't always set that up. Dan Hamhuis (and whoever his partner turns out to be, we hope it's not Kevin Klein) also takes on lots of elite forwards, so expect to see him as well.
Time to make yourselves some enemies here in Chicago. Prediction for the series?
The Preds are an outstanding road team (4th best road record in the NHL), and I like their chances to steal a game this weekend. Combine that with an edge in goal, and an advantage in blueline depth (Denis Grebeshkov was an important pickup), and I like Nashville in 6.