The Phoenix Coyotes watched their lead in the Western Conference Semifinals cut in half on Wednesday night. Now, they are going to be back at it on Friday for the pivotal Game 4 that might determine the winner of this series.
Matters didn’t look all that great for the Coyotes in Game 3 of this series. They were down 2-0 seemingly at the drop of a hat in the game, and for the first time in the playoffs, they more or less just looked like they gave up. Sure, they had 32 shots on goal, and they did at least tie or outshoot the Predators in all three periods, but they looked lifeless on the power play and never really had a shot at winning the game. It is a testament to Mike Smith in net that this was the first game in these playoffs that he lost in regulation. Of course, it was also the first game in the playoffs in which the Coyotes didn’t take a third period lead. That’s the really bad news for this squad, though. If the offense isn’t finding ways to strike early, the defense and the goaltending just isn’t going to be good enough to beat the Predators, and even though Phoenix is ahead in this series 2-1 going into Friday night, it still doesn’t necessarily feel like it has the better team and the better chance to move on to the Western Conference Finals.
Now this was the Pekka Rinne we were expecting to see during the whole postseason! Rinne didn’t have to make all that many truly remarkable saves against the Coyotes, as chances were few and far between for the most part, but he did stop all of 32 shots that came his way for yet another playoff shutout. Sure, he would have preferred a bit more out of an offense that really didn’t do a heck of a lot, save for a one minute stretch in the first period when it logged two goals, but there are a ton of times this year that two goals is more than enough for Rinne. David Legwand got the scoring started for the Predators with some help from Gabriel Bourque, one of the underrated players in this series and in the playoffs as a whole for Nashville. It was the second strike though, that really changed the game and took the air out of the Coyotes’ sails once and for all. It was Mike Fisher that put the biscuit in the basket then, and it was great to see him getting on the stat sheet again after a second straight postseason in which he has been suspect for the Predators.
The Final Word: It’s not going to take all that much for the Predators to win this game in all likelihood. We just feel like the NHL odds are going to be stacked against Phoenix, both now and when this series returns to the desert. An upset could happen, but we feel like betting on the Coyotes would really just be hoping for an upset. The safer and more consistent play is clearly on the Preds.
Phoenix Coyotes @ Nashville Predators Pick: Nashville Predators
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.