For the second straight season the Nashville Predators have made it to round 2, as they are set to take on the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Semifinals after ousting the Detroit Red Wings in round 1.
The match up with the Coyotes is expected to be a goaltending battle for the ages. Vezina Trophy nominee Pekka Rinne lead the Preds through round 1 with stellar numbers, and emerging star goaltender Mike Smith did the same for Phoenix. Both teams are built on defense and goaltending, which is sets this up as an interesting series.
This off-season, the Coyotes lost goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to free agency, and were in need of a replacement. Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney decided to take a chance on Mike Smith,and it has paid off big for Phoenix. Smith had spent the majority of his NHL career as a back-up with the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning. This season the Kingston, Ontario native proved he is a capable starter, leading the Coyotes to the Pacific Division title while going 38-18-10 and compiling a 2.21 goals against average and .930 save percentage.
Andrew is Blue Jackets correspondent and an up and coming writer planning on a long career in the hockey world. His eventual goal is to be a play by play broadcaster.