Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Selanne and Koivu Are The Real Predator Killers

Leading up to the playoff series between the Nashville Predators and the Anaheim Ducks al the focus was on what the Predators would do to stop the top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Boby Ryan.

When the pairings were first known Preds coach Barry Trotz said, "When you think about Anaheim, you think about the big line... They've also got Selanne and Koivu who are dynamic players so we're going to have to bring a good team game."

Trotz didn't just throw Selanne and Koivu's name out there as an afterthought. He knew what he was talking about. During the regular season, in four games against the Preds the pair scored seven of the eleven goals that the Ducks had against he Preds. Selanne had three goals and three assist while Koivu added four goals.

During the playoffs, it has been the same song, different verse. Selanne leads the team in goals, having four of the Ducks' nine goals while Koivu has chipped in with three assists.

Selanne is amazing that he shows no signs of slowing down in spite of turning 41 in July. He is as fiery a competitor as ever and raked his teammates over the coals after Sunday's loss, "We had no business in this game. They (Preds) wanted it more. They won the battles. We were lucky to even be in this game. I'm very disappointed."

After watching Selanne score two goals, 30 seconds apart, to tie the game, Trotz was full of praise, "He's got a goal scorers instinct. He's still got that dynamic speed. He's just a wonderful athlete."

"If you'd have someone representing what an NHL player should be, Teemu is all that. He's involved in the community and has a vibrant personality and he's still a dynamic player at forty. You talk about a guy that's been fantastic for the game - he will definitely be in the hall of fame."

Going further Trotz described why Selanne and fellow Finland countryman Koivu work so well together, "They are both dynamic guys. They have speed, they can make plays. They've played together in a lot of different venues, not just Anaheim. They played in the World Championships. They played in the Olympics together... World Cups."

"They've got a real good understanding of things. They are real good on the rush, they look for second waves. They can make quick plays and little area passes, and skating into them. They do all those very mature, smart things that real good hockey players do."

Selanne may find this series particularly frustrating because he would like one more run at the Stanley Cup. His only Cup ring came with the Ducks in 2007 and he would like to retire on a successful note. He has made no decisions on retirement but if he won another Stanley Cup this year, it is possible that he would call it a career.

With Bobby Ryan suspended for one more game, and the Ducks' big first line at two-thirds strength, the smart fans will be keeping an eye on Selanne and Koivu in Wednesday night's game four between the Predators and the Ducks.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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