Our 2017 NHL playoff hot-streak continues as we transition into the Stanley Cup finals tonight. In the conference finals we picked Nashville in 7 (actually Nashville in 6), and the Penguins in 6 (actually Penguins in 7). That moves us to 6-0 on picks since the conference semi-finals, and almost spot on for number of games; not too shabby, right?
The 2017 Stanley Cup kicks off tonight at 8 p.m. EST as the defending champion, Pittsburgh Penguins host the Nashville Predators. Regardless of the outcome of this match up, the 2017 Stanley Cup final will go down in history. The Pittsburgh Penguins could become the first team to win back to back cups since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. On the flip side, the Predators are looking to hoist their first Cup in franchise history.
The biggest storyline thus far is the loss of Ryan Johansen for the Nashville Predators. Without a doubt, this created a mismatch up the middle between these two teams. Without Johansen, that leaves Mike Fisher (who is questionable due to injury), Calle Jarnkrok, and Colton Sissons to take on Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins trio of Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel will continue to be a constant threat as they are all averaging a point a game or better.
Offence has been the one glaring soft spot for the Preds in this year’s playoffs. With the exception of Filip Forsberg, the bulk of the offence is coming from their defence. The Preds are going to need find some unsung heroes if they want to get past the Penguins.
Nashville’s dedication to defensive responsibility is a huge reason behind why they now find themselves in the finals. The quartet of Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, PK Subban, and Mattias Ekholm should be able to make life very difficult for Pittsburgh’s big three of Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel. As well, as we have said in the previous rounds, nothing more can be said about the amazing play of Pekka Rinne. Rinne leads the playoffs with a .941 SV% and a 1.70 GAA.
It’s time to give the Penguins defence credit where is credit is due. Everyone knows they are banged up but, here they are in the Stanley Cup Finals again. Although the Penguins defence has played well enough, a lot of the credit needs to go to the two Penguins netminders. It appears that Matt Murray will take the Penguins the rest of the way but, it has to be comforting for them to know that they can fall back on the likes of Marc-Andre Fleury should Murray falter or get injured.
This one is going to be tough to call. My heart says Nashville should win this however, if there is one thing I’ve learned while watching hockey it is NEVER BET AGAINST CROSBY.
Prediction: Penguins in 7