Chicago Blackhawks vs Nashville Predators – 4/17/15 NHL Playoff Fantasy Sports, Hockey Picks, Odds & Predictions

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We move into the Game 2’s of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Friday April 17th. One of the main attractions features the Nashville Predators hosting the Chicago Blackhawks at 9:30PM Eastern Time on NBC Sports Network.

The betting line seems short as the Predators are just a -115 favorite heading into this contest which leads one to believe we may be in for a close game. Game 1 was a wild thriller than went in favor of the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in double overtime. The game saw Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford benched after giving up three first period goals to the Predators. To Chicago’s credit once falling behind 3-0 after one period the team rallied for four straight goals to earn the win. This was the complete opposite of last year’s Western conference finals where the Blackhawks blew lead after lead to the LA Kings who eventually tossed Chicago out of the playoffs in a dramatic seven game series for the ages. Media reports have Corey Crawford back in net for the Blackhawks. This was a huge loss for Nashville who has not played well down the stretch.

Chicago Blackhawks Center: Jonathan Toews had an exception Game 1 as the veteran contributed with three points in the playoff opener. He had a goal and two assists making his instrumental in all by one Chicago score.

Chicago Blackhawks Right Wing: After missing time with a collar bone injury Patrick Kane returned to the Blackhawks lineup for Game 1. He dished out two assists. In 61 regular season games for Chicago the veteran right wing has 27 goals and 37 assists for a 64 point total.

Chicago Blackhawks Left Wing: Patrick Sharp had a goal in the opener. The eleven year veteran had a down season for his standards but could come cheap in One-Day Fantasy Leagues and could be good value based on his experience in playoff competition.

Chicago Blackhawks Defensemen: Duncan Keith netted the game winner in double overtime for Chicago and also dished out an assist for the game to finish with two points. A nine year veteran played in 80 games for the Blackhawks with 10 goals and 35 assits. He spent nearly 40 minutes on the ice in Game 1. Brent Seabrook was second amongst the Blackhawks defensemen as the finished the regular season with eight goals and 23 assists. He averaged 22 minutes on the ice which was three minutes fewer than the top defensemen Duncan Keith.

Chicago Blackhawks Goalie: It was a rough 20 minutes for goaltender Corey Crawford. He allowed three Predator goals on 12 first period shots. Crawford is a Stanley cup finals winner with Chicago and could shake off a poor first game. Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville agrees and was quoted as saying it was a “no brainer” to return Crawford in net for Game 2. During the regular season Crawford has a goal against average of 2.27.

Nashville Predators Center: Colin Wilson had a good Game 1 as he scored two goals in the opener. He had slumped down the stretch with just one assists over his past four games entering the playoffs. Filip Forsberg led the Predators in points this season and was held scoreless in Game 1 with seven shots on net. Prior to the start of the playoffs he had a goal in three of his four final games.

Nashville Predators Left Wing: James Neal fished with 27 points on the year. He is in the midst of a slump with no points in four straight games.

Nashville Predators Defensemen: Josi Roman finished the regular season with 15 goals and 40 assists. He saw 39 minutes of ice time in Game 1 without a point to show for. Shea Weber scored 45 points during the regular season for Nashville put led the team with penalty minutes. In Game 1 Weber in 38 minutes of play failed to register a point. He has failed to earn a point in five straight games. Ryan Ellis has points in four of his past five games for Nashville. He dished out an assist in the Game 1 defeat.

Nashville Predators Goalie: Pekka Rinne has to bounce back from a subpar outing on Wednesday. He had 38 saves and allowed four goals. For the year Rinne had a 92.3% save percentage with a goal against average of 2.18. Game 2 will be a test for the psyche of Rinne who blew a three goal lead in Game 1. Because of the length of the game his save percentage was over 90%.

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C: Jonathan Toews (Blackhawks)
RW: Patrick Kane (Blackhawks)
LW: Patrick Sharp (Blackhawks)
D: Josi Roman (Predators) Ryan Ellis (Predators)
G: Corey Crawford (Blackhawks)

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NHL Eastern Conference 2015 Playoff Series Predictions

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On April 15th the NHL will kick off its 2015 Hockey playoff schedule. 16 of the 30 teams that make up the National Hockey League will begin their quests to hoist the most cherished cup in all of hockey-dom; the STANLEY CUP.
The wining team will battle through 4 gruelling, best of seven games, playoff series. A minimum of 16 games played (should the winning team sweep every best of 7 series 4-0) or 28 games played (should the winning team need a full 7 games per series to move on) will be required to lay claim to what has oft been described as “The most difficult Trophy to lay claim to”.
Of the 16 playoff teams in contention, 8 reside in the NHL’s eastern conference and 8 reside in the NHL’s western conference. In this short prediction article we will look at the eastern conference teams and its respective match ups.

Eastern Conference Teams who have made the NHL 2015 Playoffs (and their season point totals):

New York Rangers (113 Points)
Montreal Canadiens (110 Points)
Tampa Bay Lightning (108 Points)
Washington Capitals (101 Points)
New York Islanders (101 Points)
Detroit Red Wings (100 Points)
Ottawa Senators (98 Points)
Pittsburgh Penguins (96 Points)

After a long and arduous 82 game season the eastern conference 1st round playoff match-ups are as follows:

New York Rangers (113 Points) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (96 Points)
Montreal Canadiens (110 Points) vs. Ottawa Senators (98 Points)
Tampa Bay Lightning (108 Points) vs. Detroit Red Wings (100 Points)
Washington Capitals (101 Points) vs. New York Islanders (101 Points)

Series Predictions:

Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the New York Rangers in 6 Games (4-2)

Why: A Penguins win in this series is tantamount to a momentous upset. 17 points in the standings separate these two clubs and the Pens sputtered their way into the post season, almost not making it. Why then would they be picked to upset the NHL’s 2014-2015 best regular season team?!
Both Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin are coming off quiet seasons, by their all-world standards, and will have chips on their shoulders during this series. David Perron, who the Pens acquired during the season to play wing with Crosby is arguably the best scoring winger that Sid the Kid has gone into the playoffs with for quite some time, this should pay dividends.
Much maligned Marc-Andre Fleury is coming off a remarkable regular season that saw the Quebec native lead the league in goaltender shut outs and is entering the playoffs with something to prove even though he has already laid claim to one Stanley Cup in his career.

Montreal Canadiens defeat the Ottawa Senators in 6 Games (4-2)

Why: The Canadiens come into the playoffs as one of the lowest scoring clubs that have made the spring dance, yet the Montreal Canadiens finished the regular season with the 2nd best record, due in not small part to the record setting regular season that Montreal goaltender Carey Price put in during the 2014-2015 season.
When a team that struggles to score goals but sharpens their defense to the tune of Carey Price’s record setting 44 wins and the popular belief that he will take home the Vezina and Hart trophies, the scales tip in Montreal’s favor.
A interesting match up to keep an eye on during this series is the play of Senators Erik Karlsson and Canadiens P.K. Subban, two of the NHL’s most talented Dmen and both former Norris trophy winners.

Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Detroit Red Wings in 5 Games (4-1)

Why: Tampa Bay have played the entire year with something to prove following their 0-4 sweep at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens during last year’s playoffs. 3 names jump to the forefront when a person thinks of the Lightning’s chances in this first round and the rounds to follow; Stamkos, Bishop, Hedman.
While the Red Wings have made the playoffs for a record 24th straight time, the harsh truth is that their stars (Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Kronwall) are on the grey side of their careers and the lack of stability in nets does not inspire confidence.
Victor Hedman is finally having a year that validates his draft standing (2nd overall in 2009). With 10 goals, 28 assists for 38 points and +12 rating in only 59 games played this season; the 6’6” Hedman has cemented the blue line for the Bolts. Last season’s playoff forced the Blots to play without their #1 Ben Bishop, this year he is healthy and ready to go. And of course we would be remiss not to mention Steven Stamkos who is coming off of yet another 40 goal season.

Washington Capitals defeat the New York Islanders in 7 Games (4-3)

Why: Many pundits may point to Alexander Ovechkin and John Tavares as the focal points in this playoff match up and they would be right. However those two star players will not be deciding factors in this series, that onus will rest upon goaltenders Braden Holtby and Jaroslav Halak.
Both the Capitals and Islanders have had a difficult time establish a true #1 goalie, this year those concerns seem to have been put to rest. Holtby and Halak took the bull by the proverbial horns and never looked back, leading their clubs into the sprig dance. Holtby boasts a 2.22 G.A.A. that ranked him 5th in the regular season, Halak’s 2.43 G.A.A. ranks him 23rd in the regular season. The discrepancy becomes all the more evident when you look at the two tenders Save Percentage, Holtby .923 (7th in the NHL), Halak .914 (23rd in the NHL).
Both clubs feature potent scorers and strong defensemen that arguably cancel each other out. The goaltending will be pivotal here. Will Halak go on another miracle playoff run or will Holtby continue to put any doubts to rest.

 

Well there you have it. The eastern Conference 2015 NHL predictions, 3 favorites and 1 underdog have been tabbed to escape the first round with victories. Will these predictions come to fruition or will they fizzle out? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain and beyond debate… the 2015 NHL playoffs are set to start tonight and the excitement is palpable!
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