Predators Face Jets in Western Conference Semi-Finals
The NHL Playoffs are now heading into the second round and the pressure begins to mount for all the teams still in it. Everyone knew Nashville would be one of the longer lasting contenders when it came to going to second or even third round in the playoffs. Fans around the hockey world were predicting a potential second round matchup between Nashville and Winnipeg that everyone wanted to see, knowing it was going to be a good one. This series has been almost pre-destined since the mid-way point of the regular season. Now it has come to reality and is now one of the most anticipated series in the 2018 NHL Playoffs. And what a regular season it has been for both teams with the Predators and Jets each were top-five defensive teams this season but combined for 41 non-shootout goals in five games.
Now that Toronto is out of the playoffs after losing 7-4 to Boston Bruins, Winnipeg is the only chance Canada has left in the playoffs to regain the Stanley Cup. Winnipeg has a good chance to beat the Predators and they know that on most nights they have more skill than their opponent in addition to having a size advantage. The Jets have also enjoyed a week off since eliminating the Minnesota Wild with a dominating 5-0 Game 5 win. When you see this team up close you’ll know why, they are big and nasty and can really intimidate their opponent. It wasn’t too long ago during the regular season that Winnipeg won 5-4 on a shootout goal by Mark Scheifele, but the real story is how the Jets tilted the ice in the last 40 minutes after the Predators outshot them 15-4. Again, this is going to be a goaltenders night, and may the best team win with most of the focus being on who stops the most shots.
NHL odds board shows the Predators (-155) as large favorites in Game 1, which is a little difficult to understand considering how even these teams are. Winnipeg Jets are the +134 road underdogs. Both teams have their advantages like for example, the Predators are really effective at getting their scoring chances on net and attacking off the rush, but it’s widely known that the Jets generated more pre-shot movement and more scoring chances overall. The good points for the Jets are that they are specifically very good at generating chances by cycling the puck down low and finding one-timer options in the middle of the ice from either behind the net or behind the goal line from the corner, and by forechecking teams into making mistakes. This can give the Predators problems and if Winnipeg keeps up the forchecking, they could possibly wear them down.
The Predators are still the favorites to win the series, but they will need to elevate their game to a degree we haven’t seen in a while in order to match the Jets’ intensity. But if you look back during the regular season and based on the games between these teams we’ve already seen, that shouldn’t be an issue, but if the Predators get too complacent and try to run all their offence through their defence like they did against the Avalanche, they’ll be in trouble. The Predators may have beaten the Avalanche during the first round, but they didn’t make it look as easy as they should have, considering how they were one of the top teams during the regular season.
Get ready to tune in on Friday night, the game is a must-see as this series is going to be a battlefield that could potentially go 7 games with Winnipeg Jets entering Game 1 of the best-of-7 series at Nashville on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN360, TVAS). The Jets were 2-3-0 against the Predators in the regular season. The experts are predicting this series to be a heavy-hitting, offensively-driven matchup between the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators. Overall, the Preds are favoured (+400) to win the Stanley Cup compared to the Jets’ +600 odds.