The Nashville Predators will begin the second round of the NHL playoffs tonight as they welcome in the Winnipeg Jets to Bridgestone Arena. Both teams had exceptional years that led them to be the top two teams in the National Hockey League. Nashville finished the season with 117 points, first in the NHL. Winnipeg was right behind Nashville with 114 points, second in the NHL.
It is a travesty that these two teams have to meet in the second round, but based upon the current playoff model, we have our current situation. This series will be physical with dynamic scoring and two of the best goaltenders in the league. The team that sets the tone early in Game One will carry the advantage.
The Turris Line
During the series versus Colorado, the Predators were getting significant scoring from the JOFA line and the Watson line. The Turris line was a no-show during the first series. Kevin Fiala–Kyle Turris–Craig Smith need to step it up during this series.
Kyle Turris was playing below expectations during the first series with only one assist in six contests. He played slightly above expectations in the face-off circle winning 51.47% of the draws taken, but offensively he must be better. If the Predators can get production from all four lines, there aren’t many teams that can stop them, even Winnipeg.
The Vezina Showdown
The Predators and Jets have been carried this season by the play of their outstanding goaltenders in Pekka Rinne and Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck is currently on a 121:37 shutout streak as the start of the second round begins. The Wild had fits trying to figure out the Commerce, Michigan native. During the first round, Hellebuyck had a .924 save percentage and 1.93 goals-against average. Rinne was not as prolific in round one with .909 save percentage and 2.60 goals-against average.
This series will hinge upon the play in the crease. The playoffs are won and lost based upon goaltender production. The team with the better play from their Vezina-nominated netminder will win this series.
Smashville will be, as the kids say, LIT tonight as the series opens up in Nashville. Be sure to catch all of the action on NBCSN or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. Puck drops at 7:00 pm!