Can the Nashville Predators finally top the Chicago Blackhawks? Chicago has ousted Nashville from the postseason twice in the last decade, including two seasons ago when the Blackhawks beat the Predators in the first round 4-2 on their way to their most recent Stanley Cup. This would be a great time for some comeuppance as no one is expecting anything from a Nashville squad that limped into the playoffs, while almost every expert is calling for Chicago to win the West.
Log on to BookMaker online for all the latest NHL puck-lines, totals, moneylines, and props. BookMaker Sportsbook provides the earliest NHL odds and is your one stop shop for all your betting needs. The Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators will clash with a trip to the Western Conference semis on the line. You can watch all the action on the NBC family of networks.
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Game 1: Nashville at Chicago (4/13, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Game 2: Nashville at Chicago (4/15, 8 p.m. ET, NBC)
Game 3: Chicago at Nashville (4/17, 9:30 p.m. ET, CNBC)
Game 4: Chicago at Nashville (4/20, TBD)
Game 5: Nashville at Chicago (If Necessary, 4/22, TBD)
Game 6: Chicago at Nashville (If Necessary, 4/24, TBD)
Game 7: Nashville at Chicago (If Necessary, 4/26, TBD)
Nashville made one of the biggest moves of the offseason when it swapped Shea Weber for PK Subban. Subban is one of the top defenders in the NHL and although it took him some time to get going in the Music City, he has stepped up his game in recent weeks. He has a goal and three assists over his last five games and has cut down on the penalties that made him a liability at times in Montreal. Subban suited up for three of Nashville’s games against Chicago this year and tallied a point in each.
Artemi Panarin did not fall victim to the sophomore slump. The second-year man registered 30 goals for the second straight campaign and finished with 40-plus assists again as well. Panarin finished second on the team in goals, only three behind Patrick Kane, and has stepped in as a quality scoring threat in place of an aging Marian Hossa. He lit up the stat sheet in the postseason last year with two goals and five assists in seven games.
For the Predators to advance in this series, they are going to need their defense to shut down one of the more dangerous offenses in the NHL. Pekka Rinne has been pretty solid over his last nine games for his part, giving up just 14 goals in that timeframe, but on the whole Chicago has been unable to stop Nashville this year. The Blackhawks have found the back of the net 20 times in their five games against the Preds this season.
The weak link for Chicago all season long has been its penalty kill unit. The Blackhawks have allowed opponents to score on 22.3 percent of their power play chances, a mark that puts them seventh-worst in the NHL. They have allowed power play goals in three of their last four games and this is an area that Nashville can exploit.
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The Chicago Blackhawks know what it takes to win in the postseason, but the Nashville Predators are still trying to figure it out. Nashville has yet to make it to even a conference finals and swapping Weber for Subban was supposed to give this team a step in that direction, but the Predators faltered in their last game and now have to face the Blackhawks in the first round as a result.
It would be nice to see the Predators win a few games, but it’s not realistic. The Blackhawks are a seasoned, superior team and will be even better with Artem Anisimov back in the lineup. Chicago is going to win a short series against its division rival here.
NHL Playoff Series Odds: Blackhawks win the series 4-1
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