This entire NHL Playoff Season is one of the most memorable in recent years. This year's playoff brackets saw teams returning to The Cup who've played and won, and lost, in the past. We also saw some teams making their first appearance in the playoffs.
We have the Nashville Predators, a new, or expansion team from 1998-1999 making their first Cup appearance. Were they even on anyone's radar at the start of the season? They are tearing a$$ in the playoffs and are now playing the Pittsburgh Penguins, four time Cup Winner .
Previous game 1 predictions made by sports betting sites and yours truly, were all wrong:
Who will win Game 1?The final score Monday night was Pens 5, Preds 3.
Fansided predicts Penguins over Predators by 3 - 2, in one OT.
Odds at Vegas Insider have Pens over Preds by 2 - 1.
And sports bet guru Oddsshark echoes Vegas with a Pens win over Preds by 2 - 1.
My Game 1 Prediction: Predators 1, Penguins 0.
I thought that what we'd see Monday night is a game where 0 - 0 is the score up until the middle of the Third Period. One of those games where for two-and-a-half periods defense on both teams is unstoppable, ending with one goal by Nashville where Pittsburgh wouldn't have sufficient time to tie the score, or win. That was my rationale and why I picked Nashville on Monday.
Monday night's Game 1 was a tale of two teams in constant mode shifting. Nashville's P.K. Subban made the first goal of the game, temporarily giving the Preds 1 and the Pens 0. Pittsburgh challenged the shot based on Subban's teammate Filip Forsberg being offside. Nashville's point was taken away, returning it to a scoreless 0 to 0 game.
Watching the agonizingly slow and repeated viewings of the offside, in slo-mo and stop action, it had to be a very difficult call for the Refs. But, as I say in so many times on all different subject, all things being equal, they made the right call.
The Pens then scored three goals before the end of the first period. The first, by Evgeni Malkin, has to be the 8th Greatest Goal Wonder of the World. How he saw the opening -- a channel, a tiny galactic black hole path big enough only for the size of a puck -- and glided it past Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne was poetry in motion. It was a spectacular shot and Malkin has the vision of a hawk.
The Second Period began with a gutted catfish thrown onto the ice . An arena employee was dispatched with a snow shovel to scoop up the chum and play of the game resumed. Who threw the fish? Well, so far all evidence points to Russia.
|Anonymous gutted catfish.|
The rest of this period was unremarkable. The Pens did what I've seen them do before with a 3 - 0 lead; they get a little bit complacent and then they become vulnerable.
Nashville outplayed The Pens during the second half of the second period. Near the middle of the Third Period, the stat was noted that the Pens had gone 26 (36?) minutes without a shot on goal. Then in the Third Period, Nashville sailed two goals past goalie Matt Murray, making it Pens 3, Preds 2.
I first thought, this will run into at least one OT. But a little over three minutes left, Jake Guentzel glided the puck past Rinne making it goal 4 for the Pens.
Pens # 13 Nick Bonino's following goal put the Pens up 5 to 3. And that would be the final score. Nashville pulled Rinne, but it was too late. Game 1 belongs to The Pens.
Neither team scored during any of their power plays. This is an ongoing - years - problem with the Pens. The MN Wild have this problem too. And I've never been able to figure out why. At one point, the PP favored the Pens by 5 on 3. What did the Pens do with this power play? Nothing. Well, at least they prevented Nashville from scoring, which would have been very embarrassing for The Pens.
Tonight, look for Nashville making serious adjustments in their strategy on all future games, especially on offense. They've got the speed, the "bodies", an excellent goalie. Their mantra needs to be, "one goal at a time," instead of, what seemed Monday night, a long-range vision of the series as a whole. The Preds will rebound and they will be a different team tonight from the team we watched Monday.
Going by shots on goal - or the lack of them Monday night - Pittsburgh should never have won. The Pens need to do what they have been doing - mainly, when they have a 2 point lead they need to keep it and stay focused. Their ability to come from behind and win playoff games that they seem destined to lose is their second most strongest ability (at least that how I see it). Pittsburgh has Cup experience, they've won The Cup before, they know the mental acuity that comes with The Cup series and their "bodies" don't take a second seat to Nashville.
Okay - Prediction time.
Game 2, Stanley Cup - Penguins v Predators at Pittsburgh:
Fansided predicts Preds 3; Pens 1
Odds at Vegas Insider Pittsburgh 4, Nashville 3
And sports bet guru Oddsshark aligns with Vegas' prediction of Penguins 4, Predators 3
The Pens do not want to head into Nashville for Game 3 with the series tied 1-1.
My Game 2 Prediction: Pens 5, Preds 4 in one OT
Watch for the Pens to be slamming the puck every chance they get for a shot on goal.
Disclaimer: The above is purely guesswork on my part and is not in any way to be taken as advice on sports betting or engaging in gambling or wagering; legal, illegal or other. Not responsible for material at linked sites.