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At playoff time, Ducks and Predators place friendships on hold

Sweden is well-represented in the NHL Western Conference finals, with Nashville playing five Swedes and the Ducks three.

But Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg said there will be no fraternizing with his compatriots until after the series.

“We kind of told each other just leave the friendship on hold,” said Silfverberg, whose team entered Game 4 on Thursday trailing in the best-of-seven series 2-1. “We're all professional, and we knew it was going to be a battle out there. It's hard plays and it doesn't matter who it is, especially at this point. If you have a check, you finish your check. It doesn't matter if it's your best friend.”

Nashville forward Viktor Arvidsson said that’s different from the way the players dealt with their relationships during the regular season. Then the players might get together for dinner before or after a game. Or at least talk.

Not now.

“We battle hard and compete on the ice. And talk to each other after the series is over,” said Arvidsson, who played with the Ducks’ Rickard Rakell on a pair of Swedish national teams. “That’s how it is. You just try to stay on [your] side.”

However, Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne, who is from Finland, said that policy is more common sense then something inherently Swedish.

“You’re in this small bubble [and] you don’t want to break out of it. You don’t want to mess with it,” he said. “It’s a short period time in your life when you play these guys in one playoff series. So you take it as seriously as you can.

“And then afterward life goes on and you can be friends.”

Not their first rodeo

The Predators are playing in a conference finals for the first time in franchise history. But Nashville has made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, advancing an additional round each time.

And Arvidsson said that experience has made a difference.

“We were behind a lot last year and now we’re ahead a lot,” he said. “It brings confidence, for sure.”

For the Ducks, long playoff runs have become expected. The team has made it to the second round five times in the last seven years and reached the conference finals in two of the last three seasons. But Coach Randy Carlyle said he points to lessons learned in the regular season to keep his team focused.

“When we took on the mantra that we had to be better than we were in the last game, it just kind of relieves the focus of the outcome versus the process,” he said. “What did you have to do to achieve success? What did you have to do in the game within the game? Was it the forecheck that made the difference? Was it your defensive zone faceoffs? Was it your power play or was it your penalty killing? And look at the game that way versus looking at the result.

“As you go deeper into the playoffs, there's a lot more intensity or pressure.

But if you've done it for 82 games, it's not such as a drastic change. And in situations you have to have your big players make big plays.”

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

Twitter: kbaxter11

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