#1 Nashville Predatorsvs.#2 Pittsburgh Penguins
Written by David Hess
Nashville Predators vs Pittsburgh Penguins
When: 8:00 PM ET, Monday, May 29, 2017
Where: PPG PAINTS Arena In Pittsburgh, PA
Lines: Pittsburgh -160/ Nashville +144
The Stanley Cup Finals begin this Monday evening and the upstart Nashville Predators will square off with the Pittsburgh Penguins in game one of their best-of-seven series from PPG PAINTS Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. Nashville made it to their first-ever NHL finals by taking out Chicago, St Louis, and Anaheim, while the Penguins are back in the NHL Finals after taking out Columbus, Washington, and Ottawa. The teams split the two meetings this year, with each team winning on their own ice.
The Nashville Predators were picked by many at the start of the season to be a real threat in the West. Well, during the regular season they were a very mediocre team that entered the playoffs as the number eight seed. Something then happened to this team as they swept the Blackhawks in four, took out the Blues in six and took out the Ducks in six to reach their first-ever Stanley Cup Finals. The Preds have been in the league since 1998/99 and had never even made it to the Conference Finals until this year. This is a team that is playing with a lot of confidence, but still they are taking on the defending champs and the Preds have not been a great road team on the year as they have gone just 22-27 away from home this year overall. The Preds have been led in the postseason by Filip Forsberg, who has eight goals and also leads them in points with 15. Ryan Johansen is 2nd in points with 13 and Roman Josi, Colton Sissons and James Neal are all 2nd in scoring with five goals each.
Pekka Rinne will be in the crease for the Preds and he has gone 12-4 with a 1.70 GAA and a .941 save percentage in the postseason this year so far, while in the postseason in his career he has gone 34-30 with a 2.32 GAA and a .919 save percentage. The Predators enter this game ranked 3rd in the league in scoring, in the postseason, at 2.94 gpg, while also ranking 12th in shots taken (29.9 spg) and 12th in power play conversions, converting on 14.9% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice they have been the best in the postseason in goals allowed, giving up just 1.81 gpg, while also ranking 4th in shots allowed (29.7 spg) and 4th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 11.9% of their chances.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were the 3rd seed in last year’s playoffs and they went on to win it all. This year they entered as the 3rd seed again and here they are in the Stanley Cup finals with a chance at defending their title. It will not be easy as the Preds are a team that has a ton of confidence and they have also had a few more days rest, while the Penguins were languishing in a seven-game slugfest with the Ottawa Senators. In round one they took out the Blue Jackets in five games and then took out the Capitals for the 2nd year in a row in six games. They are now going for their 5th Stanley Cup Title and having the home ice is big as they have gone 38-13 here at PPG PAINTS Arena on the year, including 7-3 here at home in the playoffs. Leading the Pens in scoring during the postseason has been rookie Jake Guentzel, who has nine so far, while Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Phil Kessel are all 2nd with seven goals each. Malkin leads them in points with 17, while Crosby is 2nd with 13.
Matt Murray did not play in the postseason until the series with the Senators as he missed the early part due to injury. He will be in the crease for this one and has gone 3-1 with a 1.35 GAA and a .946 save percentage in the postseason this year, while in the postseason in his career he has gone 18-7 with a 1.94 GAA and a .928 save percentage. During the postseason so far the Penguins rank 1st in scoring at 3.05 gpg, while also ranking 10th in shots taken (30.2 spg) and 3rd in power play conversions, converting on 26.0% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice they rank 5th in the playoffs in goals allowed, giving up 2.32 gpg, while also ranking 11th in shots allowed (32.6 spg) and 8th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 14.5% of their chances.
Normally this would be a bad spot for the Penguins as they are off a grueling seven-game series with the Senators, while the Preds have had some extra rest, but the Penguins will have had three days off between games and they should be ready for this one here at home where they have gone 38-13 on the year. The Preds are in their first ever Stanley Cup Finals and they may not be prepared for it, especially in the first game. Pittsburgh has the experience and they have the home ice edge, plus having Murray in the crease is a big plus for them as well. Look for the Penguins to take game one of this series in a tight game.
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I have always had a fascination with numbers and sports, so I combined the two to become a handicapper and a blogger. I love sports and I love writing about them and all the info I put in my blogs is well-thought-out and well-researched. I am a big fan of all the major sports and the colleges, plus I know golf pretty well, tennis and the WNBA. I am very versatile. Hope you enjoy my content.