Round 2 of the NHL Playoffs begins on Wednesday night with a couple of games on the schedule. In St. Louis, the Blues begin what should be a thrilling series against the Predators, and out west the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks will begin in the later game.
We’re in St. Louis for the Preds and Blues, as Nashville seeks to extend their four-game winning streak. Depending on who you ask, this matchup is somewhat of a surprise. There were enough people to go around who had the Blackhawks beating the Preds, and the Wild getting past the Blues.
Both of those picks would yield a record of 0-2. The Blackhawks looked like a minor league team trying to keep up with the Preds. Conversely, the Wild, played like the Wild in the playoffs, throwing away what was a quality regular season for them.
They’re going to have to figure out what’s going on in the postseason, because the regular season was not their problem, yet again. It’s like it turns into exhibition hockey for the Wild once the playoffs hit.
The Blues were able to rise to the occasion and take advantage of the unconfident Wild. St. Louis were riding a hot hand before the regular season even finished, and it continued against the Wild in the first-round of the NHL Playoffs.
The Blues were winners of three in a row, including ten wins in their final thirteen games of the regular season. It continued in the playoffs, with a 4-1 series victory against the Wild. It concluded with a 4-3 overtime win in Minnesota. So, in total, there is only 1 loss to talk about from the first-round. In who are regarded as the hottest teams in the NHL right now, the Predators and Blues meet for Game 1 in St. Louis.
Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues Game 1 Pick
An unsuspecting Blue took centre-stage against the Blackhawks. Jake Allen, who the Blues were banking on to fill the void left by Brian Elliott, came up in a big way. Elliott is out of the playoffs, while Allen is playing on. Allen took his lumps in the regular season, but you wouldn’t suspect it against the Wild. The Wild ended the regular season in 2nd, with an average of 3.21 goals scored per game. So, what Allen did shouldn’t be overlooked.
Allen and the Blues allowed an average of only 1.3 goals against the Wild in the first-round. It wasn’t until the sixth and final game that Minnesota were able to score more than 2 goals. The Predators brought a total team effort, with the offence and defence playing in complete unison. They scored 3.25 goals per game while allowing just 3 goals through the entire series. All the credit to the Predators for dismantling the Blackhawks like that.
They have the Hawks to thank a bit as well, because their legs were not underneath them at all. They played like a defeated team who just wanted to lay down and take a nap, from Game 1 until the end of Game 4. I don’t foresee the Blues being such an easy out in this series.
The Preds were 19-20-2 on the road in the regular season, but made it look so simple at the United Center in Chicago. This is going to be a long series, with at least six games. I see the Predators losing their first game of the postseason tonight in St. Louis, as they suffer a slight “hangover” after knocking the Blackhawks off like that. The Blues are the selection for our Predators vs. Blues Game 1 pick.
PICK: BLUES (-120)