Last season the Nashville Predators were the last team to make the playoffs. The Predators were able to fight their way to the Western Conference Title but eventually fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Boy did things change for the Predators in one season. The Predators were the first team to clinch a playoff spot and eventually won their first President’s Trophy with 117 points. The Predators will welcome the Colorado Avalanche to Bridgestone Arena to open up the first round of the Western Conference.
As we have seen in the past, it does not matter what seed you are during the playoffs. It will be an extremely hard series and the Predators know this first hand after their experience last season against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Nashville has won 10 straight games against the Avalanche dating back to the 2015-2016 season. As the Predators have outscored the Avalanche 17-8 during the four games they faced each other this season. The Predators took the two games in Colorado where they capped off 14 wins in just 15 games.
Flip Forsberg has been a dominate force on the ice against the Avalanche. In Forsberg’s 20 games against the Avalanche he has recorded 13 goals and 11 assists.
Key to a Predators Victory:
The Predators may have the most depth in the league along with arguably the best defensive core. Not to mention the fan base during the home games. If everything continues to work well for the Predators and they continue to have a dominant defense and goaltending from Rinne they should be able to move on in the series.
Hart Trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon needs to find his scoring touch if Colorado wants a chance to advance. But it won’t be easy as the Predators have two of the best defensive pairings in the league.
The Avalanche also need to find a way to get under the skin of the Predators during at least one game at Bridgestone Arena. If they can at least win one game against one of the loudest crowds in the NHL they may have enough momentum when they head to Pepsi Center for Games 3 and 4.
Key to an Avalanche Victory:
Goalie Jonathan Bernier needs to be a dominant force again against the Predators. Though many remember Bernier giving up 4 goals against the Predators last year during Game 6 when he was a member of the Anaheim Ducks. Bernier has a 9-4-0 record in the 14 starts he has had against the Predators with a 2.37 GAA and a .917 save percentage. Bernier needs to become the best player on the ice again if the Avalanche want a chance to pull off an upset.
Game 1 will be taken by the Predators after defeating the Avalanche 2-1