Nashville Predators vs. Anaheim Ducks Game 1
Date and Time: Friday, May 12, 2017, 9 p.m. ET
Location: Honda Center, Anaheim, CA
NHL Playoff Odds
Predators vs. Ducks Game 1 TV Coverage: NBC Sports Network
The Western Conference Finals are all about bucking history this year.
The Predators were the first to make some history by joining the conference finals for the first time ever. It's not just that Nashville is here that is so impressive, though. It's the fact that the team has only needed 10 games to reach this level, and it has yet to lose a game at Bridgestone Arena, the only team that can boast it has yet to lose a game on home ice.
What's more impressive for the Predators is the fact that they were amongst the biggest underdogs in these playoffs five weeks ago at +2500. They blew through Chicago in a clean sweep and needed just six games to dismiss the Blues, the hottest team at the time the NHL had to offer.
For Anaheim, the history that was bucked was recent. The Ducks had blown three straight 3-2 series leads in the postseason at varying stages of the tournament, and they had to think that they were headed for that fate once again on Wednesday night after losing Game 6 in Edmonton and ultimately falling behind 1-0 in the decisive game. But this veteran squad rallied for a change and has gotten to the West Finals with the hope of being able to win these last eight games.
The Ducks have played in a couple series in a row where they really had to concern themselves with a few of the youngest, brightest forwards in the league. Now, they've got to switch their attention to what's going on at the blue line.
It's almost unbelievable how many points the Predators are getting from their defensemen. They have five men in these playoffs who have at least seven points, and three are blue liners. It's not like they're just racking up insane amounts of assists either. Ryan Ellis has four goals in 10 games, while Roman Josi has four strikes as well.
It's on the power play when these Predators have been so dangerous. Their top three defensemen have a total of eight points on the power play in the playoffs, and the Blues are going to have to do what they can to keep John Gibson, who has struggled with traffic in this postseason at times, as clean as could be.
Predators vs. Ducks Game 1 Free Picks
The Ducks are going to be favored in Game 1, but this series is basically a tossup as we see it. Nashville just seems to have things working for it at the moment, and with Ryan Johansen stepping into a great scoring role and James Neal and Viktor Arvidsson seemingly coming up with some of the biggest individual moments on the offensive end of the ice, this is the best-suited Nashville team we've ever seen.
But that's not why we're going to go forward with the Predators. Pekka Rinne is 8-2 with a .951 save percentage and 1.37 GAA. Goaltenders win tight games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and we have a heck of a lot more confidence right now in the way that Rinne is playing than the way Gibson is. If Gibby isn't going to improve upon his .908 save percentage and 2.80 GAA, we might see Jonathan Bernier in this series before too long. That's too scary of a prospect to wager on, even after Gibson had a great Game 7 against Edmonton.
Predators vs. Ducks Game 1 Pick: Back the Predators at BookMaker.eu
Predators vs. Ducks Game 1 Score Prediction: Predators 4, Ducks 1