Jobing.com Arena will be the site of the second game of the Western Conference Semifinals, as the Phoenix Coyotes host the Nashville Predators on Sunday night in the desert.
The truth of the matter is that the Predators were the better team in the first game of this series, especially in the third period and in overtime. There was a point that they outshot the Coyotes 20-1 over about a 25 minute stretch of game time, yet the team still could never end up taking the lead. The truth of the matter is that it was one of the rare bad games for Pekka Rinne. The outstanding net minder and Vezina Trophy finalist was all over the place for the most part against the Detroit Red Wings in the first round, and seeing him stop just 20-of-24 shots in such a critical spot was definitely what we were figuring upon seeing. Martin Erat had a particularly effective game, doing some great work on the forecheck. He also scored the game-tying goal late in the third period that sent the game to OT. However, Mike Fisher was held off of the stat sheet, and Sergei Kostitsyn was as well, names which really should be scoring more often than not in some respect for the Predators this deep into the season.
Give Phoenix all the credit in the world for really fighting off virtually everything that the Predators threw its way. The team managed to fend off the majority of the power play problems that it had to face, and the truth of the matter is that the first goal that Nashville scored was merely caused by a fluke bounce off of the boards that probably should have never happened. Goalie Mike Smith didn’t have his best game, but he faced a barrage of shots that no one should really be seeing at this stage of the postseason. The opportunities just weren’t there in the third period and in overtime, but when the time was right, the team, just as it has all season long, came up with the goal that saved the day. Martin Hanzal won a crucial faceoff in the Nashville zone off of an icing penalty, and the puck went right to Ray Whitney, who made no mistake in front of the net to give the Yotes the victory and the 1-0 lead in this series. When you look back at the box score from this game, you aren’t going to see a heck of a lot that is interesting if you are a Coyotes fan, but what you are going to see is a +12 number in the faceoff department. That was arguably the biggest difference in the game and is just another example as to how solid this team played in this underrated aspect of the game.
The Final Word: Nashville was absolutely the better team in Game 1, and there is a reason that it is favored in Game 2. The Coyotes survived that first barrage, but we just don’t think that it is going to happen again, at least in this game. Phoenix and Nashville will be level when this series goes back to the Music City next week.
Nashville Predators @ Phoenix Coyotes Pick: Nashville Predators -115
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.