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The Nashville Predators will face the Colorado Avalanche in Game Two of the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Avalanche destroyed the Predators in Game One. Nashville never stood a chance and was down 5-0 at the end of the first period. The Avalanche scored two additional goals (one in each of the last two periods). Nashville also scored two goals in the last two periods but went on to lose Game One 7-2. Nathan MacKinnon led the Avalanche in scoring with two goals, and Mikko Rantanen had three assists.
The Nashville Predators are not nearly as good as the Avalanche but went through some very impressive stretches during the season. Their first half of the season was more impressive than their second half, but the Predators showed that they can score and averaged 3.20 goals per game during the regular season.
The Predators have an interesting team dynamic that is rarely seen. They are led by the veteran trio of defenseman Roman Josi, center Matt Duchene, and winger Flip Forsberg. Josi leads all NHL defensemen with 96 points. He may be a defenseman, but he is quite offensively oriented. Matt Duchene is often on the receiving end of a Roman Josi pass. Duchene led the Predators in goals with 43 and had 43 assists. Duchene often plays alongside Flip Forsberg. Forsberg’s numbers are similar to Duchene’s; he had 42 goals and 42 assists.
The Predators struggled mightily in Game One very much because of their goaltending. Their starting goaltender, Juuse Saros, was injured and will also miss Game Two. Nashville will again be forced to put David Rittich and Connor Ingram in net. Rittich will probably get the start this game. He only gave up two goals on 32 shots in Game One and is the more experienced netminder of these two. He played in 17 regular season games, while Connor Ingram only appeared in three.
The Colorado Avalanche could come away with a sweep in this series. They are the best team in the Western Conference and the second-best team in the league. They also beat the Predators three out of four times this season.
Colorado does not have an elite goal-scorer, but they have four players who pass well and score when needed. Nathan MacKinnon leads this bunch. He only played in 65 games, but he had 88 points. He is complemented by Mikko Rantanen. Rantanen led the Avalanche in points (92) and goals (36). I cannot talk about the Avalanche without mentioning Nazem Kadri. Kadri led the Avalanche with 59 assists and also had 28 goals. Finally, we have Cale Makar. Makar is a defenseman but finished the season with 28 goals.
The Avalanche have two solid netminders in Darcy Kuemper and Pavel Francouz. Kuemper is the starter and played in over ⅔ of the Avalanche’s games this season, but Francouz is similarly good and gives up about as many goals per game as Kuemper.
This game will not be a blowout like Game One, but the Avalanche will win.
|45-30-7 (5th in Central Division)
|56-19-7 (1st in Central Division)
|Leaders (Regular Season)
|Roman Josi (96)
|Mikko Rantanen (92)
|Matt Duchene (43)
|Mikko Rantanen (36)
|Roman Josi (73)
|Nazem Kadri (59)
|Alexandre Carrier (26)
|Devon Toews (52)
|Roman Josi (3.51)
|Shots (Per Game)
|Nathan MacKinnon (4.60)
The Nashville Predators have another uphill battle in Game Two. However, they can come away victorious if they tighten up their defense and limit the Avalanche’s shots.
The Predators were not in good form in Game One. They gave up seven goals, five of which came in the first period. Nashville needs to tighten up their defense and make life hard for the Avalanche.
I do not know what is worse: giving up seven goals or allowing 45 shots. Scratch that. Giving up seven goals is worse, but allowing 45 shots is also quite concerning. Nashville needs to limit the Avalanche’s shots in order to limit their scoring.
The Avalanche are riding high after Game One and will win if they take a lot of shots and draw penalties.
The Avalanche will face one of Nashville’s backup goaltenders in this game and need to take advantage of that. They have to shoot the puck as much as they can and make life uncomfortable for the netminder.
The Avalanche have a top-ten power-play unit that converts over 24% of the time. They need to get this unit on the ice and build a lead through power-plays.
Roman Josi has become more known for his offense, but he needs to step up on defense in Game Two. Everyone knows he can set up his teammates, but he may need to prioritize defense this game. He only had a +/- of -1 in Game One, but his +/- needs to be positive in Game Two.
Devon Toews is highly depended upon on defense and plays over 25 minutes a game. Toews and the Avalanche defense will have a tougher time in Game Two than Game One. Toews needs to be ready for this and take charge of his defense. His play will be critical in slowing down the Predators.
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|Nashville Predators vs Colorado Avalanche Information
|Nashville Predators vs Colorado Avalanche
|Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado
|Thursday, May 5, 9:30 PM EST
|How to Watch
Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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