Predators Will Ambush Ducks to Win First Western Conference Title

Doug Upstone

Friday, May 12, 2017 1:11 PM UTC

Friday, May. 12, 2017 1:11 PM UTC

If you did not have Nashville as one of your futures bets to win the Stanley Cup, you have a lot of company. The eighth-seeded Predators are a stunner to be in the West Finals vs. Anaheim unless you have been actually watching these playoffs.

Nashville swept top-seeded Chicago and mostly out-played St. Louis in winning in six games. The Predators, in their first conference finals, are traveling to Anaheim to face the Ducks, who are coming off a grueling and wild seven-game series with Edmonton. Game 1 is Friday night. The NHL odds series price was an eyebrow lifter with Nashville a -130 favorite at BookMaker, without a home ice edge. Let's break down both teams.


Predators On Prowl

Goalie Pekka Rinne has been nothing short of sensational with an astounding .951 save percentage in net. He has been backed by stellar blue-line play from the likes of Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, Roman Josi and P.K. Subban, who all have also made strong contributions on the offensive side. They have accounted for 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists) thus far in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Nashville's top line of Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg brings speed and pressure. If they and the rest of the Predators forwards can keep Anaheim's defensemen split, they will generate odd-man rushes similar to what Edmonton frequently did.


Ducks Have Control Tempo

Anaheim is the underdog, which might not sit well in the locker room. The Ducks had to win four of last five against the Oilers after losing the first two at home, and thankfully center Ryan Getzlaf is at the very top of his game. Getzlaf has 15 points in 11 playoff games, and he will need more help against a sizzling netminder and a defense permitting 1.4 goals a game in the postseason.

Goaltender John Gibson has not been nearly as strong as Rinne, and he will have to up his game for Anaheim to win this series. The Ducks defensemen are better than how they played against Edmonton, and they could hold the key for Anaheim if they can make passes to forwards up ice if the Nashville blue-liners try and cheat in the neutral zone, leaving their backend open.


Notes & Series Pick

These teams played three times in the regular season and the home team won each of them, with Anaheim having the edge. The Ducks lost in seven games to Nashville a year ago in the first round of the postseason, and this would seem no better spot for revenge.

However, other than Pittsburgh no team has looked at good as the Predators in playoffs, as they seemed to have put it all together for the first time. As long as Rinne and the defense control the action and Nashville can dominate push possession, they should be the right choice for NHL picks and be the third No. 8 seed to ever reach the Stanley Cup Finals.

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