NHL Qualifying Round Preview: Nashville Predators vs. Arizona Coyotes

While we’re still a ways off from the restart of the NHL season, we do know who will face off in the qualifying round of the playoffs. Those series are a best of five series with the winners advancing to the normal field of 16 teams for the start of what most people consider the actual postseason. With that in mind, we’ll take a look at each series in the qualifying round and give our thoughts on the matter, along with the best options when it comes to placing bets on each series. We’ve already covered the Eastern Conference qualifying round matchups, which you can find by going to the following links: Pittsburgh/Montreal, Carolina/New York Rangers, New York Islanders/Florida and the Toronto/Columbus series. In addition, we started looking at the Western Conference with the Edmonton/Chicago series and today, we break down the 6/11 matchup between Nashville and Arizona.

#6 Nashville Predators (35-26-8, 78 points) vs. #11 Arizona Coyotes (33-29-8, 74 points)

Head to Head Matchups:

October 17. 2019: Arizona 5, Nashville 2

December 23, 2019: Nashville 3, Arizona 2

March 28, 2020: Game canceled due to COVID-19

Series Odds According to VegasInsider.com:

Odds to Win the Series: Nashville -134, Arizona +110

Odds For Total Games in the Series: 3 Games (+260), 4 Games (+150), 5 Games (+150)

Odds for Actual Series Result: Nashville 3-0 (+500), Nashville 3-1 (+330), Nashville 3-2 (+360), Arizona 3-0 (+700), Arizona 3-1 (+430), Arizona 3-2 (+400)

Team Statistics:

Nashville: 3.07 goals per game for (16th), 3.10 goals per game against (Tied for 19th), 17.3% power play percentage (Tied for 24th), 76.1% penalty killing (Tied for 28th)

Arizona: 2.71 goals per game for (23rd), 2.61 goals per game against (tied for 3rd), 19.2% power play percentage (18th), 82.7% penalty killing (5th)

Team Leaders:


Points: Roman Josi 65, Goals: Filip Forsberg 21, Assists: Josi 49

Goalie Wins: Pekka Rinne 18, GAA: Juuse Saros 2.70, Shutouts: Saros 4 Save %: Saros .914


Points: Nick Schmaltz 45, Goals: Conor Garland 22, Assists: Schmaltz 34

Goalie Wins: Darcy Kuemper 16 GAA: Kuemper 2.22 Shutouts: Kuemper/Antti Raanta 2 Save %: Kuemper .928


Nashville struggled to put together a consistent offensive attack this season and it’s part of the reason why the team had their struggles to contend in the Central Division. The Predators fired Peter Laviolette after 41 games this season with the team sitting at 19-15-7. John Hynes took over behind the bench January 7 and the team was 16-11-1 in his time with the team. Nashville scored at least five goals in 14 games this season but they were stymied more often than not. The Predators were held to two goals or less in a hefty 28 games on the season. Offense is going to be important in the postseason but Nashville had just one player hit the 20-goal mark (Forsberg) on the year. That means guys like Nick Bonino (18), Mikael Granlund (17), Viktor Arvidsson (15), Calle Jarnkrok (16) and Ryan Johansen (14) are all going to have to chip in offensively.

The Predators are well-stocked defensively and are led by Josi, who collected 16 goals and 49 assists on the year. Mattias Ekholm (eight goals, 25 assists) and Ryan Ellis (eight goals, 40 assissts) are solid two-way options as well. One has to wonder if we’ve seen the end of the line for Rinne as a starting goaltender making 55 to 65 starts a season. He struggled mightily this season as he posted the worst GAA and save percentage of his career by a wide margin. Saros stepped up and made strides with more playing time. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him supplant Rinne for the postseason given the fact that Rinne’s decline was steep and swift this season. Saros proved to be more than competent when it came to keeping the puck out of the net this season.

Arizona is a similar team to Nashville in the fact that their offense left plenty to be desired. The Coyotes were handcuffed offensively despite having Phil Kessel (14 goals, 24 assists, -21 plus/minus) in the mix all season. Arizona made a move during the season, picking up Taylor Hall from New Jersey in an effort to jolt their offense. The former Hart Trophy winner contributed 10 goals and 17 assists in 35 games with the Coyotes and they’ll hope he can build on that in the postseason. Garland led the team with 22 goals during the season and 10 guys potted double-digit goals on the year. Still, being able to generate more offensive chances and lighting the lamp would go a long way toward this team having success in the postseason.

The Coyotes were one of the stingiest defensive teams in the league as they simply shut down opposing teams. Arizona held the opposition to two goals or less in 34 of their games on the season. Arizona started the year with Raanta in net before he suffered a lower-body injury that cost him an extended period. Kuemper stepped into the breach and did the job in net though he missed time with a knee injury as well. That pushed Adin Hill into the mix for 13 games this season. With the layoff, Raanta and Kuemper could duel for playing time but with the way Kuemper played after taking over the #1 role, you’d have to think that he would be the likely starter in net in Game 1.

This one is going to be one of those series where goals are likely at a premium. Defense and goaltending is going to be the focal point of this series and the team that gets the job done in their own end is going to have the upper hand. Nashville slumped a bit in that department this season as Rinne really hit rock bottom after having such a lengthy, stellar career. It seems likely that Saros will step in and he should get the start to open the series. Whether that pans out of if Hynes decides to stick with Rinne based on playoff experience remains to be seen. The Coyotes are a tough team and they’ll take Nashville to the limit but you have to be able to light the lamp with some success in the postseason and that’s something that has been a problem all year long. Arizona can’t expect to win 1-0 and 2-1 all postseason long. Experience gives Nashville the edge and they hold off the challenge from the upstart Coyotes.


Nashville to Win Series -164

Nashville to Win Series in 5 Games +350

Series to Go 5 Games +150

Author Profile
Chris King

Chris King has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO. If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well, as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career. Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.