The dream run won’t end for the Nashville Predators. Nashville may have entered the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, but has only dropped two games and looks like the best team in the West. An overtime win against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 has the Predators feeling like they are a team of destiny. The Ducks are out to prove that isn’t the case, but need a win in Game 2 at home before the venue switches to Nashville for the next two games.
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Nashville somewhat surprisingly dominated the run of play in Game 1, but Anaheim had the better scoring chances. The Predators put 17 more pucks on net than the Ducks did, but Anaheim could have won the game in regulation if not for some impeccable saves from Pekka Rinne. In Game 2, we will see if this is the beginning of a trend or if these teams revert to their typical styles of play.
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Rinne is the MVP for Nashville this postseason, but P.K. Subban has played a huge part in the team’s success as well. Subban has given the team consistent leadership on the blue line and helps out in a myriad of ways. His puck handling ability gets him from blue line to blue line without fear of a careless turnover and his crisp passing sets up his teammates.
Although he didn’t get the credit for it, he helped set up Nashville’s first goal with a nice move and a pass that led to an odd-man rush out of the zone, but he got plenty of credit for the game winner. Subban faked out Anaheim’s entire defense when he looked like he was about to shoot in overtime, only to pass it to James Neal for the game winner. It was one of the demonstrable reasons why Subban is so valuable, but the little things he does add up just as well.
When will Anaheim score on the power play again? The Ducks went scoreless on their four power play opportunities against the Predators in Game 1 and have now gone six straight games without a goal on the odd-man advantage. In all, they have not scored on the power play in 21 straight chances.
Nashville has had its own shares of recent struggles. The Preds couldn’t get a goal on five chances against the Ducks in Game 1 and weren’t able to find the back of the net on the power play in Game 6 against St. Louis either.
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This might not be a must win for Anaheim, but it’s pretty close. The Ducks have bounced back from losing their first two at home before, see last year’s series against Nashville where they won the next three after that, but no team wants to stare down the barrel of 0-2 before heading on the road. They should play with a palpable amount of desperation.
Nashville had only cracked the 30-shot plateau three times this postseason prior to Game 1 and it would be shocking to see them do the same thing in Game 2. The Predators rely on their defense and allowing them to do that on offense shouldn’t happen. The Ducks will be stronger on the defensive end in Game 2.
Expect Anaheim to respond in kind in Game 2 and swarm Nashville early. The Ducks will pick up a goal in the first 10 or 15 minutes and hold on for a low-scoring victory.
NHL Playoff Odds: Ducks 2, Predators 1
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