Wild Card #2 vs. Metropolitan Division #2
Nashville Predators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Never underestimate the underdog going into the playoffs. That has been the Nashville Predators this year as they have defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks to make their first Stanley Cup Final appearance. Led by their goaltender and potential Conn Smythe trophy finalist Pekka Rinne, the Predators will look to stifle the defending champion Penguins. P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis are not afraid to be an extra forward and crash the net on offense. That gives Nashville a bit of an edge for opposing teams to have to account for when defending their own zone. James Neal and Filip Forsberg are going to have to continue their stellar play without Ryan Johansen who missed the last two games against Anaheim and won’t play in the Final. Nashville has had a long history of success being one of the younger franchises in the league. Their home games are going to be a sight to see.
The only thing for me that would have prevented the Penguins from making another appearance in the Stanley Cup Final would be the play of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. He was solid through the first two rounds against Columbus and Washington. He began to flounder against Ottawa in the Conference Finals and Pittsburgh didn’t hesitate to make the change to Matt Murray in net. He’s been here before having been the goalie in last years championship run. He’s as calm, cool and collected as any veteran currently playing. Sidney Crosby continues to show why he is still the best player in the game today. He always knows where his teammates are on the ice and manages to find them for an easy goal. He somehow sneaks past defenders for easy goals as well. With Pittsburgh, they’ll have to be even better on the blue line with the threat that Nashville presents on odd man rushes and causing turnovers in the neutral zone. This matchup is about cashing in on those opportunities.
Players to Watch: G Pekka Rinne and F Sidney Crosby
Who Wins: Predators in 7 games