Bye Chicago, Hello St. Louis
Can the Nashville Predators not just win tonight in game one and defeat the St Louis Blues, advancing to the Western Conference Finals? I think so, as a matter of fact, this is my strongest prediction for the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This is the first time since the Blues and Predators will meet in the playoffs after co-existing in the same division for the past 18 years. Moreover, the reason for this is, the Predators have had to face Chicago in the first round, well, for many man years now. This time, they beat the Hawks, and not in five games, six or even 7, as I predicted. But, a clean sweep out of the playoffs.
Rinne, Arvidsson, Johansen, Forsberg & “Playoff Colin Wilson”
Pekka Rinne, Viktor Arvidsson, Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg have been the primary reason for the Preds success in the playoffs so far. Arvidsson and Forsberg both reached the 30 goal mark in the regular season, and Johansen had a lot to do with that, collecting 47 assists. Which is 6th best among centers in the NHL. And in just four playoff games this spring, the trio has managed five goals and ten assists.
Which is even more impressive is that Forsberg had five points in five games versus St Louis this season, while Johansen collected two goals and two assists, and Arvidsson 1 goal and two assists.
Moving The Puck
As for Pekka Rinne, he as we know, was sensational in the first round of the playoffs. Moreover, the reason for that was because Rinne was able to move the puck out of the zone when the opposition tried to create a forecheck. For a team like the Blues who possess a minuscule puck possession time, Rinne is going to and will cause frustration for the Blues. Which will, in fact, lead to stupid penalties taken by the Blues and goals from the trio of Johansen, Forsberg, and Arvidsson.
While it is true Jake Allen has a .956 save percentage and 1.47 goals against average thus far in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Rinne has led the category with two shutouts; a .976 save percentage and 0.70 goals against average. Again, primarily because of his puck moving ability.
Momentum & Confidence
Here’s the bottom line, St Louis did not impress me, and I am sure they did not impress you in the first round. Their puck possession, or lack of, was quickly noticed and if it were not for Jake Allen, the Blues would have cleaned out their lockers by now. However, Allen had it easy against one of the lowest scoring teams in the league, Minnesota does not quite have the trio Nashville has. Moreover, although I expect the Blues to jump all over the trio, there’s still “Playoff Colin Wilson” and Mike Fisher, who are both playoff gems.
Expect the Predators to have the momentum and confidence in this series, due to finally getting past Chicago in the first round. They have the upper hand, and I would not be surprised if they send the Blues packing in 4-5 games. However, to be safe, give me the Predators in 6 games, despite having St Louis advancing before the playoffs began.
- Game one Prediction: Nashville Predators +100 (risking $500 to profit $500)
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