On to the second round we go, kicking off with a Western Conference matchup between the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators. Both teams came through impressively against more illustrious franchises and it will be interesting these two go at it. My pick to win the whole series would be Nashville as they are a gritty defensive team built to thrive in playoff hockey; they are at 1.60 to progress.
As always heading in to Game 1 though, anything is possible over the seven games Phoenix are more than capable of winning four of them.
Focus will inevitably fall on the goalies, and two very good ones will be on show. Phoenix goalie Mike Smith was dominant against Chicago and kept them in every game, he has repaid their faith after they gave him the chance to be a number one goalie for the first time in his career.
Pekka Rinne was just as impressive for Nashville, who at times were heavily outshot by Detroit in their first round but managed to squeeze out wins in those games on the back of Rinne’s performances.
I’ve mentioned that the Predators are a defence first team; key to this is probably the best pairing in the league of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.
For Phoenix, trade deadline pickup Antoine Vermette had an impressive first round along with Mikkel Boedker who scored two overtime goals during that series.
Seeing that these teams are not explosive offensively and gifted at the back and in net, you have to go low scoring again tonight, there are odds of 1.88 on fewer than 4.5 total goals.
The outcome of tonight’s game is tough to call, but Nashville are well rested and will look to establish an early advantage.
Best Bet: Nashville Predators to win including overtime at 1.88