Nashville Predators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Game 5
Date and Time: Thursday, June 8, 2017, 8 p.m. ET
Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
NHL Playoff Odds: Penguins -140, O/U 5.5
Predators vs. Penguins Game 5 TV Coverage: NBC
The fact of the matter is that good fortune is all that has changed in this series from the first two games to the second two games. The Penguins were getting the lion's share of the breaks in Games 1 and 2 in spite of the fact that the Predators were really playing the better hockey.
All four games have largely followed the same sort of script. Nashville has dominated physically. Pittsburgh has kept up with its speed and raw talent. But in the end, the Predators have outhit and outshot the Pens in virtually every period of this series. The Penguins, in fact, are very lucky to still even be in this series, let alone still be favored to ultimately win it.
The key is going to be figuring out how to get all of the traffic away from Matt Murray. Murray hasn't had a terrible series, and he shouldn't be overly ashamed of allowing three goals on 25 shots in Game 4. But he's just had far too much general work to do. Even he's been beaten up time and time again, getting pushed and shoved by the big Nashville forwards, and the rocket shots he's been taking from the point feel like they're starting to really wear him down after a great start to this series.
3 – The number of players the Predators had in Game 4 who weren't +1 in +/-.
Sure, going +1 isn't the end of the world any given night, but go back and look at the four goals. Four different lines were on the ice. The only players who weren't ultimately in the plus column were Viktor Arvidsson, Mike Fisher and James Neal. Those three men combined on the third goal of the game, the one that effectively put the Penguins down. They also happened to be on the ice when Sidney Crosby scored his eighth goal of the postseason in the first period.
But this is nothing new for Nashville. On the four goals scored in Game 4, the maximum 12 different players picked up at least one point. That's not on accident either. Peter Laviolette isn't afraid to roll with all four of his lines even when the going gets tough. Sure, this team lacks a lot of superstar talent at the forward positions, but its general depth is suddenly really hard for the Penguins to keep up with.
Predators vs. Penguins Game 5 Free Picks
If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it. The Penguins are in some serious trouble. They look like they're bloodied and on the ropes, and the only thing that might ultimately get them back in the saddle in Game 5 is the fact that they don't have to deal with the Nashville crowd. The Predators have the best home ice advantage in the biz, and there isn't a crowd we've seen get quite that raucous in quite some time in hockey at any level.
We just don't know if the Pens have anything left in the tank. This is where championships are ultimately won and lost. These teams have both played well over 100 games on the season, and the depth of Nashville is starting to look more impressive than the superstar nature of Pittsburgh. We'll gladly take the Preds as short dogs in Game 5.
Predators vs. Penguins Game 5 Pick: Predators +125 at BookMaker.eu
Predators vs. Penguins Game 5 Score Prediction: Predators 3, Penguins 1