The Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators reminded hockey fans just how exciting playoff hockey is. Their Game 1 went to double-overtime. Now with just one days’ rest, they’ll square off again as the Preds are again a small favorite on the NHL betting lines.
The Chicago Blackhawks Can Win Because…
They got to Pekka Rinne in Game 1. While he played well at times, Rinne still gave up four goals to Chicago. That’s important because it now marks the sixth straight game that Rinne has allowed at least that many. The Predators are supposed to be a team that’s built around Rinne but if he’s going to continue to let them down, the Predators aren’t going to last very long in the playoffs, so keep this in mind when looking at the NHL betting odds.
At the same time, the Blackhawks have to be very happy with their offense. They had been averaging a paltry 2.23 goals per game since the All-Star break, which was the fifth-worst number in the league. That’s why getting three behind Rinne in one period (and four in total) is a great sign. Beyond that, Patrick Kane made his triumphant return to the lineup and had a pair of assists. That’s a great sign for Chicago.
More importantly, they got the win. The psychological momentum is clearly on Chicago’s side here. They were down 3-0, on the road in a hostile environment, facing a Predators team that had more home wins in the Western Conference than any other team. And facing the odds, they still battled back. Nashville is going to be mentally broken for this game. With another cheap line on the Blackhawks, they’re the better choice for your NHL picks.
The Nashville Predators Can Win Because…
They managed to start off right. Yes, they eventually lost, but they still managed to play like the Predators of old for a period. They scored three goals on their first 12 shots, chased Corey Crawford and became a real problem for the Blackhawks. Chicago has an interesting situation as they have to decide whether they go back to Crawford or continue with Scott Darling, who stifled the Predators the rest of the way. That’s a tough decision.
While Chicago thinks about that, Nashville needs to think about not taking stupid penalties. The Blackhawks got back into the game with two power play goals in the second period. Nashville has to be more disciplined and perform like they did in the opening 20 minutes or their season is done.
We had Game 1 pegged and while that sounds like a pat on the back, really what I’m getting at is that it’s really bad news for the Predators. They entered on a six-game losing streak and lost their seventh in a row. They had allowed at least three goals eight straight games. They had lost three of four meetings with Chicago and had seemingly exorcised their demons by earning a 3-0 lead in the first period, and then blowing it.
This is do or die for Nashville as they simply can’t afford to go back to Chicago down 2-0. However, they’ve needed to win a bunch of times during this losing streak and weren’t capable. Take the Blackhawks again for Game 2. Nashville is in a world of hurt right now with no answers.
NHL Pick: Blackhawks at The Greek