It’s the end of May, and the Stanley Cup Final is upon us. The newcomers will take on the wily veterans, as the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins vie to be called 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Champions. The Penguins did what they needed to do to get back to the finals and defend their crown.
Pittsburgh are the reigning champions, and have a team worthy of being called champions again this season. They are packed with the same dynamite that got them a Stanley Cup a year ago. I would say there’s been more hills and valleys to traverse through this season, but here they are, with wins over the Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals, and Ottawa Senators.
The Blue Jackets were the surprise team of the season, the Capitals finished 1st in the regular season, and the Senators were a pesky bunch that could get under your skin. The Pens needed overtime in Game 7 to escape the Sens.
It was a valiant effort by Craig Anderson and the Senators, but a Chris Kunitz goal sealed the deal and Eastern Conference. Anderson stood on his head in some games and got the Senators further than anyone originally believed.
The Penguins struggled at times this season with their defence. Offensively they had no issues whatsoever, but the defence had their lapses in 2016-2017. Pittsburgh finished amongst the top defences last season, but they finished 17th overall with 2.79 goals allowed per game this year. However, Marc-Andre Fleury came up big in the Capitals’ series, and then Matt Murray has been playing well of late. Fleury was pulled against the Senators at the first sign of trouble. Murray has filled in nicely.
Nashville got here the hard away as the underdog. Much like in the same way that the Kings won a Stanley Cup, the Predators find themselves in the same kind of underdog role. Everything came together for the Kings then, and it’s all coming into place for the Predators. The Pens are the favourites in the Stanley Cup Finals, but do not discount the potential the Predators have. Head below for our Predators vs. Penguins Game 1 pick of the Stanley Cup Final.
Nashville Predators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Game 1 Pick
MVP for the Predators through the playoffs? We’d have to flip a coin between Pekka Rinne and P.K. Subban. Subban, the former Canadien, laughed all his way to the Stanley Cup Finals with the Preds. Not only getting there, but leading his team there. He’s been playing well on both ends of the ice. The Predators are 1st in the NHL through the playoffs, with an average of only 1.81 goals allowed per game. The Penguins are 1st in goals scored in the playoffs, 3.05 goals per game.
The Pittsburgh defence has improved through the playoffs. They have allowed 2.32 goals per game, 5th in the postseason, an improvement from 2.73 in the regular season. In their last ten games, they’ve allowed 2.20 goals per game, and the Predators have surrendered 2 a game.
Conversely, the Penguins have netted 2.30 goals a game, while the Preds have totalled 2.80 goals per game in their last ten games. I think we’re going to see one or two crazy, high-scoring games, but in large part this should be a low-scoring series that comes down to the goaltending.
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals should be a feeling out process between the Predators and Penguins. The defences, along with Rinne and Murray should be the ones who stand out in Game 1. I like a pick on the UNDER in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Somebody is winning 3-2. Note to maintain solid bankroll management, and don’t increase units bet just because it’s the finals.
PICK: UNDER 5.5 (-135)