The Chicago Blackhawks looked strong in their 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Sunday and now they – again – face a do-or-die situation in Game 4. While the Predators are dogs on the NHL betting lines, they can ill afford to go down 3-1 in this series.
Nashville Predators Can Win Because…
They’re going to come out with more fire again. Nashville has been in this position before and they know exactly how to respond. They were in a must-win situation in Game 2 after losing Game 1 and now they’re in a must-win situation in Game 4 after losing Game 3.
Pekka Rinne needs to play better in Game 4 but it’s clear from what we saw in Game 2 that he’s capable of it. He held the Blackhawks to just two goals in that one and it seems to be the cut-off for the Preds. If they allow three or more, they lose. If they allow two or less, they win. If Rinne can get back to that range, the Predators will be in business.
At the other end, the Predators fired a lot of pucks at Scott Darling and they’ll have to do more of the same. They’ve now outshot the Blackhawks in all three games in this series and if they keep it up, the goals are bound to come.
The Chicago Blackhawks Can Win Because…
Things aren’t likely to change for Nashville. The bottom line is this: they’ve outshot the Blackhawks in every game, had more power players and even forced Chicago to make a goaltending switch. Even so, the Blackhawks are ahead 2-1 in this series and appear to be in control, which is why they're the favorites on the NHL odds.
The main issue for Nashville is Rinne continues to look off. He slumped down the stretch of the season and he hasn’t looked any better in the playoffs. He gave up a very soft wrister for a goal in Game 3, which proved to be the game-winner. He’s now 10 goals in three games in this series while posting an .898 save percentage. He’s been vulnerable.
Beyond that, the Preds are banged out with Mike Fisher and Shea Weber nursing injuries. The Weber injury is particularly bad as he’s one of the best defensemen in the game.
With no more Corey Crawford in the picture to serve as a weakness for the Blackhawks, the Predators are running out of answers. Meanwhile, Chicago hasn’t even dominated just yet. If they turn it up a notch, they’ll easily win Game 3 and this series will be over quickly.
This is a tough spot here to lay the juice and I’m wary because the Blackhawks have burned me so many times in the regular season. That being the case, I’ll recommend an over here as Nashville will have to throw everything they have at Darling to get at least three goals. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks should continue to find a way through Rinne, so look for another over for your NHL picks.
NHL Pick: Over at The Greek