Mitch Linsley, Dump & Change
As of now, the Penguins hold a 1-0 series lead over Nashville.
On Wednesday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators will square off in game 2 of what should be a very entertaining Stanley Cup final. On Monday night the Penguins were able to capitalize on Pekka Rinne’s poor performance and escape 5-3 in game where they were heavily outplayed by Nashville. The Penguins went up 3-0 in the first period thanks to goals from Malkin, Sheary and Bonino, along with a PK Subban goal overturned because Filip Forsberg went offsides (he didn’t) determined by a coaches challenge. The next 35 minutes saw the Pens lead dissipate as the team wasn’t able to register a single shot on goal until late in the third period. They only got 12 pucks on net all game.
If Nashville plays even close to how they played Monday night, they will win game two, there’s no doubt in my mind. Down 0-1, I expect Nashville will play with a chip on their shoulder tonight, giving extra motivation to a team that feels like they got screwed out of a win. I can guarantee you’ll get a better performance out of Rinne in game two.
Pittsburgh has to be better. They always do this though; they pick one game in every series to just shit the bed. They just got lucky and happened to win this time. This one game disaster has been demonstrated throughout these playoffs; Monday night was not an isolated incident. In the Eastern Conference finals, they went down 4-0 in the first period of game three to Ottawa and lost 5-1. In the 2nd round, Pittsburgh lost 5-2 to Washington in a clinching game six at home. This also happened in the first round when they went down 3-0 early to Columbus in game four and lost, so my theory is somewhat proven. The bad news for Nashville? Pittsburgh is undefeated in this postseason following these games. So maybe the Pens realized the trend, got it over with right away and just were extremely lucky. If not, we can expect a stinker beyond imagination from the Penguins at some point in this series. I really can’t imagine them playing worse than they did Monday night, the only Nashville player who was as bad as the Pens was Rinne, letting in 4 goals on the 11 shots he faced that night. Ouch.
It won’t be easy for Nashville to duplicate their game 1 performance. You can’t expect to hold Pittsburgh to less than 15 shots a game in another game this series. Putting up a performance like that and losing has to be awful for team morale as well, I bet that game took a lot of energy out of Nashville’s locker room. Remember game one of the first round when the Wild vastly outplayed the Blues, outshooting them like 52-19 or something then ended up losing 2-1 in overtime? The Wild played like a juniors team the rest of the series, so, red alert in Nashville. Maybe after they lose the series, catfish will go on sale in Tennessee. Gotta respect that fan that vacuum sealed one, shoved it in his pants and drove to Pittsburgh so he could throw it on the ice only to have it explode on impact, get him arrested and have beers thrown on him by Pens fans. That’s a fan right there. If Rinne had half the heart that guy had that night, the Preds would be up 1-0 in this series. No doubt in my mind.
Players to Watch:
PK Subban: He was one fire game 1, throwing his body around and notching an assist in addition to having an early goal called off. Expect a big game from him.
Pekka Rinne: Was last game’s debacle the start of an ugly trend or just game 1 nerves?
Sidney Crosby: He didn’t have a goal last game and after the 37 straight shot-less minutes, the captain is gonna have to hold his team accountable and lead by example in game 2.
Jake Guentzel: Playing on the 4th line now that Hornqvist is back on the Crosby line will give him a chance to take advantage of inferior skaters. I could see him scoring his playoff-leading 11th goal next game.
Over/under: With 8 total goals last game, the over hit in the second period so let’s keep it rolling. Bet over 5.5.
Spread: Vegas has the spread set at Pens (-1.5) again. I expect a close one here so I’m gonna go with Predators (+1.5) at -240. Not a good game for spreads unless you’re real confident in Pittsburgh.
Moneyline: The current moneyline favors the Pens at Pittsburgh (-150), Nashville (+130). After game 1 the Preds are gonna be hungry and out for blood so I’m gonna go against the oddsmakers. Preds (+130).
Final Score: I think this one’s gonna be close, real potential for overtime here. Preds win 4-3.