A David versus Goliath series written to a T. The eighth seed vs the one seed, a tale as old as time. The Predators, who have been rather competitive in the last 7 seasons, look to upset the Stanley Cup favorites in the Colorado Avalanche. They’ve played great hockey in a stacked Central Division, but face their toughest task ahead.
Colorado the past three seasons has been creating a monster that can dominate in the playoffs. The past two postseasons, the team has fallen short but this year, they look as scary as ever to take it all the way. With a disgusting core of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Cale Makar, Devon Toews, and Darcy Kuemper, this team is extremely tough to beat.
During the regular season, the two teams kept it close, but the Predators came out on top. They beat the Avalanche with a record of 3-1-0, but they only managed one decisive victory with two wins coming in overtime and the shootout. Both of which ended in scores of 5-4.
All around Colorado is an elite team. They are top 10 in every major advanced stat category and every one that matters. They’re only potential concerns are on the penalty kill and in net. They are dead in the middle of the league in both categories at 15 and 16 respectively. The penalty kill is average, which isn’t too much of a problem. Meanwhile, the goaltending all depends on the health of their netminders. Both Darcy Kuemper and Pavel Francouz were great this season, combining for a 2.54 Goals Against Average, a .918 save percentage, and seven shutouts.
The Predators have built themselves as a defensively structured team. Led by captain Roman Josi, who became the first defenseman to notch 90 points (finishing the season with 96) in a season since Ray Bourque did it in 1994-1994, Nashville has always culminated a great core of defenseman to build around. Where the Predators lack on offense comes from struggling to enter the zone and generate in transition and create shots off of the rush. When settle into the offensive zone they are solid.
Players To Watch
This series is going to be focused on the two main candidates for the Norris Trophy.
Roman Josi played himself a career year and one for the history books. 23 goals and 73 assists for 96 points for a defenseman in the current NHL is a modern marvel. Crafting a historic season. Josi is one of the best puck moving and puck carrying defenseman in the entire league who loves to set up his teammates with elite level passing.
Cale Makar, who finished right behind Josi in points with 86 points, since entering the league has become one of the best offensive defenseman in the game. At such a young age, Makar is an elite skater who excels at moving the puck in transition and finding ways to score with ease. Whether by slipping crisp passes on the power play or scoring by himself, Makar knows how to get a scoring opportunity with his silky hands and dazzling plays.
My Prediction: Avalanche over the Predators in six games
-Realistically the Avalanche are the better team on paper, but the Predators have shown during the regular season they can be a force to be reckoned with. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Avalanche swept them, but this Nashville squad has some spunk and can prove to be a thorn in the Avalanche’s side as they look to make their way to a Cup Finals appearance.