Nashville Predators and the Phoenix Coyotes continue their quest for this
year’s Stanley Cup this Friday night in Game 1 of this best-of-seven Western
Conference semifinal matchup. The puck is set to drop at Jobing.com Arena at 6
p.m. (PT) and the game will be broadcast nationally on the NBC Sports Network. See who we're picking to jump out to an early advantage in the series.
Most NHL odds makers currently have listed Nashville as -115 road favorites, although some NHL betting shops have gone as low as -104. The matchup's total has been set at 5.
Nashville rides Rinne
edged out Detroit in the regular season to gain home-ice advantage in the first-round matchup, but it was its ability to win on the road that led to a
five-game series win. The Predators split the first two games at home but
squeezed out a 3-2 victory in Game 3 as 133 road underdogs and gained a crucial
3-1 series edge with a 3-1 win as 143 dogs on the road in Game 4. Nashville
sealed the series with a thrilling 2-1 win in Game 5 as a 114 home favorite.
of this team heading into this game is the balance it showed on both ends of
the ice against Detroit. There were eight different players scoring goals and
15 players registering at least one point. Rookie forward Gabriel Bourque made
a name for himself with three goals and Alexander Radulov added a goal and four
assists. The real hero for Nashville was goalie Pekka Rinne. He posted a
goals-against-average of 1.81 and a .940 save percentage in this series and is one
of the main reasons that the Predators are 165 favorites to win this one.
The Coyotes send Chicago packing
registered its first ever series win in the playoffs in impressive fashion by
knocking-off a seasoned Chicago team in six games. The most impressive aspect
of this win was the Coyotes’ ability to finish-off the Blackhawks on the road
with a dominating 4-0 victory in Game 6 as 125 underdogs. They actually won all
three road games against the Blackhawks which should serve them well in this series
with the home-ice advantage. The other edge that Phoenix brings to this Game 1
matchup is the ability to win close games. The first five games of the Chicago
series went to overtime with the Coyotes scoring first in three of them.
also have the ability to spread the puck around with 11 different players
scoring at least one goal in the first round, but the star of this bunch was
Antoine Vermette. He led the team with four goals. Phoenix also brings a hot
goalie into Friday night’s game with Mike Smith minding the net. He clearly
elevated his game the first series with a 1.81 GAA and a save percentage of
.950 as opposed to a GAA of 2.21 and .930 save percentage in the regular
Predators are 5-1 in their last six games following a win and 4-0 in their last
four games on the road. The total has stayed UNDER in three of their last five
are 9-2 in their last 11 games overall and 6-2 in their last eight games
following a win. The total has stayed UNDER in eight of their last 12 games.
split this year’s regular season-series with each team winning twice on the
road. The total went OVER in two of the four games including Nashville’s 5-4
shootout win as a 108 road favorite the last time they met.
Both teams are well-rested and relatively
healthy so, despite the recent trends for both teams on the road, include the Coyotes in your NHL picks as they draw first blood with a win at home.
The Free NHL Pick: Phoenix 3