NHL Playoff Preview: Nashville Predators vs Colorado Avalanche

NHL Playoff Preview: Nashville Predators vs Colorado Avalanche

by May 3, 2022 0 comments

This Colorado Avalanche Nashville Predators series feels rather lopsided. On one side, you have the odds on favorite to win the whole thing with Nathan MacKinnon and friends. On the other, this Nashville team is limping into the postseason, winning just 3-of-10 to close out the regular-season slate. Despite all of that, Nashville won the regular-season series three games to one. Could that be a confidence booster to push them to one of the bigger upsets in recent NHL history?

Make sure to check out all of our other Playoff Previews.

Goaltending

Leading the charge in net for the Preds is Juuse Saros, who started a league-high 67 games. Additionally, he put up a 2.64 GAA and a save percentage of .918, on top of going 2-0-0 against the Avs this year. The milage is somewhat of a concern, but the wheels haven’t called off yet for the Finn. On the other end is Darcy Kuemper, who has had a Vezina caliber season for Colorado. He put up a better GAA and save percentage than Saros, and only won one less game with 10 fewer starts. Give the advantage here to the Avalanche.

Defense

Both squads here were 2-of-17 teams in the league this season to give up 250 or fewer goals. Much of the talk on the Colorado side will be about the pride of ZooMass Cale Makar, but Devon Toews has had a monster season in his second season with the Avs. The former New York Islander put up a team-high plus/minus of 52, and put up a respectable 57 points on the season. Erik Johnson isn’t too shabby himself either.

As always for the Predators, the first line of defense is Roman Josi, who put up a 96-point season with over 25 minutes of ice time a night. He has a very solid group behind him, featuring firstly Alexandre Carrier, who outright led the team in plus/minus this season. Then there is Josi’s running mate, Dante Fabbro out of Boston University, as well as Mattias Ekholm as well. Tough call as to who gets the edge here, but Colorado arguably has 2-of the-3 best defensemen here with Makar and Toews, so again advantage Avalanche.

Special Teams

This is where things get interesting. Both the Avalanche and Predators are elite power-play teams, but both are mid-pack in terms of the penalty kill. Starting with the power play numbers, Colorado and Nashville led the league in outright power-play goals with 67 and 63 goals each. Additionally, both teams converted power plays at just over a 24 percent clip, with Colorado at a slight advantage.

Moving on to the penalty kill, this is where the Avs get a clear advantage. Nashville gave up the fourth-most power-play goals in the league, but to their credit, killed penalties at near the same clip as the Avalanche. If the Predators get penalty happy as they did in the regular season, things could go south quickly. 3-0 Avalanche.

Offense

Not much of a stretch to say this is another notch for the Avalanche, given that they trailed only the Blues for goals in the west by one. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen are as lethal a scoring trio as you’ll find in the NHL. Not to mention they are just 3-of-11 players to score double-digit goals. Not that Matt Duchene, Filip Forsberg, and friends are bad, just that the Avalanche have proven they can score in bunches.

X-Factor

Everything that goes well for the Avalanche in this series will likely have Makar’s handprints all over it. Everything on both ends of the ice, and especially on the power play will run through him at some point or another. He is one of the best in the business for a reason. Have we mentioned he is only 23 years old yet?

Moving over to Nashville, they 100 percent need Saros to steal them at least two games in this series to have any chance of winning. A big ask given his workload already this season, but if he can keep things close enough for the offense to start clicking on the other end, they have a chance.

Coaching

Jared Bednar is now in his sixth year manning the bench for the Avalanche with zero Western Conference Finals births and a near .500 playoff record. Despite that, Colorado has won regular-season games at over a .725 percent clip in each of the last two seasons. On the other side, John Hynes has brought the Predators into the postseason in all three of his seasons in Nashville. However, they have a 3-7 record in those 10 games. Bednar unequivocally has the better roster but has proven to get the best out of his guys, especially in these last two seasons.

Series Prediction

To be blunt, the Avalanche are the outright Stanley Cup favorites for a reason. They are absolutely loaded with talent and have the goaltending to (hopefully), make a deep run into this year’s playoffs. The Predators deserve credit for making it into this postseason, and can realistically win a game or two, possibly force things to a game seven, but the Avalanche have the advantage everywhere you look.

Prediction: Colorado 4-2


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