Nashville Predators Vs. St. Louis Blues Betting Preview
Will the Blues Become Preds' Prey?
By Bob Duff
When they swept the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville became the third team since 1974-75 to sweep the team with the best record in the conference in the opening round, joining Edmonton (Montreal, 1981) and St. Louis (Chicago, 1993). The Predators also made franchise history, sweeping a playoff series for the first time.
To get by the Blues, Nashville will need to rewrite history once again. The Predators have never won a playoff series beyond the first round. They got spectacular goaltending from Pekka Rinne (0.70 goals-against average, .976 save percentage) and a combined 15 points from the line of Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg in the sweep of the Blackhawks.
Nashville's defense is much more active in the attack, combining for 10 points in four games against Chicago, compared the five points accumulated by the St. Louis rearguard in five games against Minnesota. The Predators can also count on more contributions in terms of goals from their bottom six forwards. Colton Sissons and Kevin Fiala both scored twice against the Blackhawks. Nashville is a much more creative team than Minnesota, capable of generating odd-man rushes off the counter attack with their speed in transition.
The Blues also got spectacular netminding from Jake Allen (1.47 GAA, .956 save percentage). St. Louis was outshot in four of five games with the Wild. The Blues welcomed back additional scoring depth when Paul Stastny returned from injury late in the series against the Wild. But the Blues can't expect to go far in the playoffs getting one goal per round from Vladimir Tarasenko. He needs to step up and deliver if the Blues are to win this set.
There was little to choose between these two teams during the regular season. Nashville posted a 3-2 mark in the season series. The Predators held the edge in goals per game (2.46 to 2.37) and the Blues a slight advantage in goals against per game (2.15 to 2.17). Nashville's Corsi for (58.8) and against (55.4) were both higher than those posted by St. Louis (53.5, 52.0).
Do the math on how many goals these teams scored and allowed during the season and it's understandable why the bookmakers are opening with five as the Game 1 total. There was an average of 4.52 goals scored per Blues game this season, and 4.63 goals per night in games involving the Predators.
During the opening round, the Blues went under five four times. The Predators were under once and the total in each of Nashville's other three games was exactly five.
Play: The under
One of the major factors in Nashville's sweep of Chicago was the performance of the top line of Filip Forsbeg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson, posting 5-10-15 numbers as a unit. Forsberg accounted for five of those points and was good for five points in five games this season against the Blues. His series points total is set at 4.5, so the over looks like a promising play at -115.
When Tarasenko was held to one goal by the Wild, others filled the offensive void, including Jaden Scwartz, who led all scorers with five points in the series. But he contributed just three points in five games against Nashville. At 4.5 points, Schwartz is a logical under bet at odds of -145.
Pick: The Predators in six games
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