By: Josh Cohen, GZ Sports Report Contributor
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Two of the most surprising teams are facing off in the Western Conference Semifinals. Both Nashville and St. Louis were on the outside looking in on the playoffs at the some point of the season. The Predators, coming off of their shocking sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks, look to continue that momentum here in Round 2, while the St. Louis blues, coming off a 4-1 series win over divisional rival, the Minnesota Wild, look to roll through Nashville. Both teams blew through the first round and had stellar play in net from Jake Allen and Pekka Rinne. We get an extremely even matched second round matchup with these two teams that are both getting hot at the right time of the season.
Regular Season Record: 46-29-7 (5th in West)
Last Playoff Round: Beat Minnesota in 5 Games
Regular Season Record: 41-29-12 (8th in West)
Last Playoff Round: Swept Chicago in 4 Games
Regular Season Matchups:
Nov. 10 – Preds win 3-1
Nov. 19 – Blues win 3-1
Dec. 13 – Preds win 6-3
Dec. 30 – Preds win 4-0
April 2 – Blues win 4-1
Players to Watch:
Nashville – P.K. Subban
In his first season with the Preds, Subban finished with 40 points in the regular season and has provided a spark for this Nashville team. In the first round, the All Star defenseman posted 2 assists in their four games against Chicago. Look for Subban to spark the Nashville offense from the blue line this series.
St. Louis – Jake Allen
Allen finished the regular season 33-20-5 with a .915 save percentage and a 2.42 GAA. In round one, Allen carried the team from inside the crease, stopping 174 of 182 shots, a 0.956 save percentage, and a 1.47 GAA. Here in round two, we will see how the St. Louis goaltender stacks up to one of the league’s premier goalies in Nashville’s Pekka Rinne, the only goaltender with better stats than Allen in the first round. If Allen stays strong between the pipes, he will give the Blues’ offense a chance to take this series.
I believe that because of the strong goaltending we get to see in this series, we will see very low scoring and close games. Because of this, I am predicting that the Predators win the series in 7 games. Despite Allen’s successes, Pekka Rinne is playing as well as he ever has and the Nashville offense is firing at full force and for that reason I have to give this one to the Preds.