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Ducks first look vs. Nashville

Ducks first look vs. Nashville
Ducks forward Corey Perry (10) and Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) fall to the ice during the first period on Nov. 1, 2015. (Harry How / Getty Images)

Goaltending will be big in this playoff series, literally and figuratively.

The obvious obstacle facing the Ducks in the first round is 6-foot-5 Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, a Vezina Trophy runner-up last season.

The Ducks will counter with John Gibson and Frederik Andersen, who won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals given up.

Nashville beat the Ducks in the first round of the 2011 playoffs.

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Ducks offense vs. Predators defense

The Ducks achieved balance when they split up Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and are awaiting the return of Rickard Rakell, David Perron and Brandon Pirri.

The Predators can counter down the middle with Ducks nemesis Mike Ribeiro, faceoff ace Paul Gaustad and Ryan Johansen. Shea Weber and Roman Josi are among the best defenseman tandems in the league.

Ducks defense vs. Predators offense

Anchored by goaltending and the shutdown line of Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg, the Ducks led the league with 2.29 goals given up per game.

Filip Forsberg and James Neal are 30-goal scorers who give Nashville consistent threats up front, and Weber has one of the hardest shots in the NHL.

Goalies

For all their regular-season success, Gibson and Andersen seek strong postseasons after struggles in the late stages of the last two playoffs. Coach Bruce Boudreau has said he's open to a goalie rotation in the playoffs.

Rinne is among the elite. The question is whether he can take Nashville on a deep playoff run.

Special teams

The Ducks became the first team since the 1984-85 New York Islanders to lead the NHL in power play and penalty killing. The latter was a necessity as the Ducks were the second-most penalized team in the NHL.

Weber's 14 power-play goals were the most by a defenseman and helped Nashville finish 10th on the power play. It was 16th in penalty killing.

Home ice

Honda Center has a intimate, intense atmosphere for the playoffs. The Ducks penalty-killing unit had a 90% success rate at home.

Nashville's yellow-clad fan base can make Bridgestone Arena a difficult building for opponents. It averaged 3.07 goals per game at home.

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