The Stanley Cup Playoffs are finally here. With the Nashville Predators taking on the Dallas Stars in the first round, it’s time to make our final analysis of the series and throw down some predictions.
This series is going to be ugly, for a few reasons. For one, both teams are known for playing tight defensive hockey, so expect several low scoring games. You can also expect a lot of one-goal games, with frantic attacks to try to tie the game late.
But it’s also going to be ugly because there’s some low key bad blood on the ice. Radek Faksa has mixed it up with several Predators players in the past. Everyone on the Stars (or even everyone in the league) apparently has a beef with P.K. Subban for some unknown reason. Then there’s the history between Brian Boyle and John Klingberg, going back to his days at New Jersey.
Oh and then, of course, there’s our old friend Alexander Radulov. Yeah, there’s almost no way we don’t see some sort of post-whistle scrap between him and someone on the Preds.
Bottom line, the team that wins this series will be the one who controls the tempo, scores early enough to dictate their game plan, and minimizes penalties. I think the Preds are in the best position to do that.
Preds in 6
I’ve been fairly down on the Preds for most of this season. And when they got shutout 5-0 against Winnipeg a few weeks ago, I was bracing for a first round exit (for the first time since 2015).
Then, Pekka started playing like Pekka again. Things started clicking, and Nashville won the division with a hot 8-2-1 finish to the season. A Filip Forsberg quote stood out to me, after a 5-2 loss to Columbus less than two weeks ago. Forsberg said they didn’t match Columbus’ desperation. Nashville won three straight to take the division after than night. This team is ready for the playoffs.
The Predators will get past the Stars in the first round. I think Nashville can shut down Dallas’ offense, which is even more top-heavy than the Preds have been this season. Pekka Rinne’s last four starts have quieted the “Juuse Saros playoff start” chatter. P.K. Subban looks healthier than he has all year. Austin Watson’s (re)return to the squad adds an energy level they were missing.
Preds in….. 5
The Nashville Predators ended the regular season exactly how you would want heading into the playoffs. In a must-win situation to snag the division title, they shined. I think that momentum carries over into Round 1 vs the Stars and expect Nashville to advance fairly quickly.
Two Preds to look for are the new faces on the team. I think Wayne Simmonds and Mikael Granlund make a bigger impact in the postseason than they did at the end of the season. It’s easy to to look at the stars on the team and say Filip Forsberg needs to score goals. Yeah, no kidding. But it’s the guys like Simmonds, Granlund, Boyle and Watson that make the difference round to round. In Round 1, Iv’e got Nashville moving on.
Preds in 5.
— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —