The Nashville Predators are on the brink of reaching the conference final for the first time in franchise history. Tuesday’s win over the St. Louis Blues has the Preds up 3-1 in their best of seven series. While Nashville made the postseason as the last seed, they are playing like anything but that right now. Consider that they dispatched the top seeded Blackhawks in four straight games, simply unheard of. Now they may take only five games to kick the Blues out of the playoffs.
2017 NHL Playoffs Predators Hockey Picks
Oh my. Nashville and Pittsburgh are the current Stanley Cup odds favorites at 7 to 2. But how are they doing it? Well, there’s two reasons, really.
The Big 4
On defense, the Predators are deeper than any team in the league. It’s normal for a team to have a standout top pairing, two defensemen who can be relied upon to shut down the best offensive players on the other side. But Nashville has four great defensemen, making it awfully tough right now for popular fantasy hockey picks like Tarasenko of the Blues or Kane of the Hawks to get going.
These four men are all averaging over 21 minutes of ice time a game. Each could be a number one defenseman on almost any team in the league. Yet here they are, dominating as a foursome. Opposing coaches just don’t know who match their offensive studs against right now. There’s no defensive letup by the Preds.
Timely Power Play
Yes, the Predators have given up the least amount of goals in these playoffs – a staggering stat when you consider that they’re still playing and 8 teams are already golfing! But what is making them really special right now is their clutch power play goals. They made not have the best power play conversion stats, but they score when it matters with the man advantage. It’s gotten to the point that opposing teams are trying desperately not to commit a penalty, which means they’re playing less aggressively.
If defense wins championships then Nashville is well equipped right now. +350 Predators hockey picks to win it all doesn’t seem like a bad bet.
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Follow him @MatthewWords.