Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals will take place on Friday, April 27th, when the Phoenix Coyotes play host to the Nashville Predators at the Jobing.com Arena.
The Predators have been a team on the rise for the last several seasons, and this is a glorious opportunity for them to take this series and to move on to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in team history. Pekka Rinne really took the full-time job for the Preds in net last year with a great postseason, and he has now won 47 games including the playoffs this year. Rinne is now a Vezina Trophy finalist, and though he is likely to finish third after Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist for the honor, there is no doubt that he is one of the goalies that no team wants to face here in the postseason. He was able to shut down the Detroit Red Wings, really having just one bad game in the five for that series. That being said, he and his teammates might be a bit rusty, as it will have been just about a week since the squad was on the ice. Fortunately, the team is in good health at this point, and the only injury of note is the one to Hal Gill, who missed the entire first round with a lower body injury.
The Coyotes are looking to get to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since moving to the desert as well. They figured to be in some trouble this year when they traded Ilya Bryzgalov to the Philadelphia Flyers in the offseason, but in the end, it is Bryzgalov that has struggled in the playoffs, while Phoenix has really thrived. Mike Smith had an amazing end to the regular season, including posting three straight shutouts to help get the ‘Yotes to the top of the Pacific Division, and now, he has three overtime wins and a shutout to his credit in the playoffs. There is some concern about how this team played down the stretch in the third period of the first five games, blowing leads in all five, and in all likelihood, if the Coyotes don’t figure out how to close out games in this series, they are going to be in for a very short series for sure. The offense has been suitable, with Antoine Vermette leading the way with four goals and an assist, and he had both of the game winners on the road in Chicago in overtime.
The Final Word: We really think that this is going to be a low scoring series for the most part, and we are already set to back the ‘under’ in Game 1. Smith is hot, and Rinne is amazing, and we think that the nerves might be getting the best of these two offenses at some point. Go with the ‘under’, even though if both teams score two goals, we can’t win.
Nashville Predators @ Phoenix Coyotes Pick: Nashville/Phoenix Under 5
Aaron Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.