The Nashville Predators are done dealing with the speed of Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche.
Next Dan Bailey Jersey Elite
, they get the physicality of Dustin Byfuglien and the Winnipeg Jets .
There’s no easy test this time of year.
”They’ve got size. They’ve got skill. They’ve got speed,” forward Austin Watson said Sunday night after Nashville beat the Avalanche 5-0 in Game 6 to clinch the series. ”Get our rest and get prepared.”
Nashville looks every bit like the team that went to the Stanley Cup Final a season ago and won the Presidents’ Trophy this season. The Predators are hitting their stride heading into the Winnipeg series. They had 11 forwards notch at least a point in the Colorado series.
Not to be outdone, the Jets had a balanced scoring attack in closing out Minnesota, 4-1.
”We saw how the regular season went against them. They’re good hockey games,” said Watson, whose team went 3-1-1 against the Jets during the year. ”We’re excited.”
This goaltending showdown should be worth the price of admission: Pekka Rinne vs. Connor Hellebuyck.
One Vezina Trophy finalist against another. Both are coming off a solid series, with Rinne stopping 22 shots in a 5-0 win Sunday to close out the series with Colorado. Hellebuyck had a 1.94 goals-against average in eliminating the Wild.
”Moving into the second round, I think you want to be playing very good defensive hockey against Winnipeg,” Rinne said. ”One of the better teams in the league. They have a lot of firepower, a lot of talent up front. Also Walter Payton Bears Jersey
, like ours, their `D’ is a big part of their game. I think it’s going to be very exciting, good series.”
The Western Conference semifinals feature a little bit of history: This marks only the third time the final four in the conference are all chasing after their first Stanley Cup since the introduction of conferences in `74-75, according to information provided by the league. The scenario also occurred in 2012 (the Los Angeles Kings hoisted the Cup) and in 1984 (Edmonton).
In the other semifinal matchup set to get underway, expansion Las Vegas faces San Jose.
”Anytime you win a series you’re feeling confident,” Predators forward Nick Bonino said. ”We’re going to be as confident as we can going against Winnipeg. We know how good they are.”
That’s a sentiment shared by forward Filip Forsberg, who scored four goals against Colorado.
”It was a good test for us. These guys have been flying around for six games, playing really fast hockey,” Forsberg said. ”We’ve been trying to play as fast as we can as well. If we can bring that speed into the next round that will be good.”
The Nashville defense will have its hands full with the likes of Jets forward Patrik Laine, who scored 44 goals in the regular season Myles Garrett Jersey Youth
, and Blake Wheeler (91 points).
Still, the Predators enter on a high after posting a shutout victory in a series-ending game for the first time in franchise history. They joined Vegas and Winnipeg as the third team to accomplish the feat this postseason.
”It’s better to end it this way than hanging on at the end,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. ”There are other teams on the ice that are pretty good hockey teams. You see it in other series going on. It would have been great if you win (the series) 4-0 but that wasn’t the case. We had an opposition that was young, skilled and fast and they had nothing to lose, and they played that way. There were times in the first five games it didn’t look like it was just going happen – we were going to have to work for it.
”It was nice tonight to play a game we were comfortable with.”
The Avs take some pride in knowing they gave the Predators fits at times.
”We made them fight for it,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said.
”The way Colorado works and battles and plays the game fast, it definitely challenged us,” Predators center Colton Sissons said. ”It was a good experience for us going forward.”
Max Kepler drew a two-out walk with the bases loaded in the 13th inning and the Minnesota Twins outlasted the Chicago White Sox 2-1 Thursday.
The Twins pushed across the go-ahead run after Logan Morrison doubled off left fielder Charlie Tilson’s glove with two outs. Hector Santiago (2-3), the sixth White Sox reliever, intentionally walked Ehire Adrianza before walking Jake Cave and Kepler.
Alan Busenitz (2-0) Authentic Devin Hester Jersey
, the Twins’ sixth reliever, pitched 1 2/3 innings for the win.
Minnesota bounced back after the White Sox tied it with two outs in the bottom of the ninth when closer Fernando Rodney walked pinch-hitter Daniel Palka on four pitches to force in a run.
Rodney quickly got the first two Chicago hitters in the inning, but ended up blowing his fourth save in 21 chances. Yolmer Sanchez singled, Rodney hit Tim Anderson with a pitch and Charlie Tilson walked before Palka also walked.
Morrison hit his ninth homer deep to right to lead off the seventh for a 1-0 lead. The drive was just Minnesota’s second hit off White Sox starter Lucas Giolito, who didn’t allow any until Eddie Rosario lined a double off first baseman Jose Abreu’s glove with one out in the sixth.
Twins starter Jake Odorizzi tossed six shutout innings in his best outing in more than a month, allowing three hits and striking out eight. The righty was 0-3 with an 8.77 ERA in his six previous starts.
Giolito recovered after walking the bases loaded in the first for his lowest-scoring outing this season. The 6-foot-6 righty, who entered with a 7.01 ERA, allowed one run on four hits and four walks in 6 1/3 innings. He leads the AL with 51 walks.
Giolito escaped the first without allowing a run despite throwing just 11 of his first 26 pitches for strikes.
The White Sox barely threatened against Odorizzi.
Anderson, Chicago’s shortstop, was ejected for the second time in his career in the 11th when he argued with umpire Gerry Davis after being caught stealing second.
Twins: RF Taylor Motter hit the wall hard trying to catch Yoan Moncada’s double in the sixth. Motter stayed down on the warning track for a couple of minutes Leighton Vander Esch Jersey Elite
, but was tended to by the trainer and remained in the game until Kepler pinch hit for him in the seventh. . INF Jorge Polanco (PED suspension) was scheduled to DH in one game and play shortstop in the other in a doubleheader for Triple-A Rochester on Thursday. He can be reinstated on July 5. . OF Byron Buxton (fractured left big toe) will play DH and play center field for Rochester.
White Sox: Sanchez left the game in the 13th after tripping on first base when he ran out a grounder. . Manager Rick Renteria said OF Nicky Delmonico (broken right middle finger) will start swinging a bat soon, but isn’t close to beginning a rehab assignment.
Twins: Ace RHP Jose Berrios (8-5, 3.15) takes the mound against LHP Mike Montgomery (2-2, 3.39) as the Twins move across town and meet the Cubs in the opener of a three-game interleague set that starts Friday. Berrios has won his last three decisions over five starts in June and has a 2.10 ERA during the span.
White Sox: RHP Dylan Covey (3-2, 3.45) faces RHP Yovani Gallardo when Chicago opens a three-game series at Texas on Friday. Covey left in the fifth inning of his previous start, last Saturday, with a right hip flexor strain, but after throwing a bullpen session on Tuesday said he felt fine.