April 23, 2016

NHL Hockey Betting: Nashville Predators at Anaheim Ducks

NHL Hockey Betting:  Nashville Predators at Anaheim Ducks&h=253&w=372&zc=1

Game Five of a strange Western Conference opening round series is set for this evening as the Nashville Predators make the long trip West to take on the Anaheim Ducks. The Predators won the first two games at the Honda Center by identical 3-2 scores. The Ducks responded emphatically in Games 3 and 4 when they ripped the Predators in two games at Bridgestone Arena in the ‘Music City’ 3-0 and 4-1. That makes it a best of three set with Games Five and Seven (if necessary) on the ‘Mighty Ducks’ home ice.

The Predators are such an inexplicable team. This is a theme we’ve returned to all year because it may be the most salient component of any handicap involving Nashville. You just never know what you’re going to get. At their best, they look like Stanley Cup contenders–big, physical, skilled and defensively tenacious. At their worst, they look like an AHL team. This year one major issue has been the erratic play of their once dominant goaltender Pekka Rinne. Rinne really hasn’t been the same since his knee injury last season. Before the injury, he was playing like a Vezina Trophy winner. Ever since then, he’s shown flashes of his former excellence but more often than not has played very inconsistently. Earlier in the season, he worked with a sports psychologist–and oddly a major problem was that he wasn’t ‘busy’ enough. In games when he was facing a ton of shots he played well. His problem was in games where he didn’t face that many shots–he was having problems keeping focus. That’s an issue with Nashville–they allow fewer shots on goal than any team in the league.

Rinne will start today and the Predators will live and die with his performance. He’s capable of an excellent game but not like it was in the past when it was almost a given that he would play well. The reality is that in Games 3 and 4 the Predators played well defensively holding the Ducks to 46 shots in two games. Rinne allowed 7 goals on 46 shots and that’s not acceptable. The Preds are in a strange situation–if they were to start backup Carter Hutton we might be interested in taking the price. But with Rinne clearly having issues with his game we’ll go with the Ducks.