Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round 2 Prediction: Phoenix Coyotes vs. Nashville Predators

Published on April 28, 2012 by   ·   1 Comment

Welcome to Center Ice Chat’s Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview and Predictions series. With Round 1 in the books as of Thursday night, we take a look at the crop of the few, the proud, the Conference semifinalists.¬†

The Nashville Predators of course already got started with their series against the Phoenix Coyotes last night in Glendale, Ariz., but there’s still plenty to dissect after last night’s ‘Yotes’ 4-3 overtime win.

Pekka Rinne reacts during last night's 4-3 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. Look for the 'Yotes to take the Predators to the edge.

Don’t let these two teams discourage you from enjoying what will potentially be a great series from here on out. The classification of the “boring” series should be shoved to the wayside. Sure, the playoffs would be gaining much more viewership if the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks had advanced against these two teams.

But the Western Conference semifinals will be showcased in a difference light this season. And here’s why:

  • Goaltending, obviously: The Coyotes rank fifth of 16 in goals against in the playoffs, and fourth of eight in teams standing. They hold a 2.14 GAA while their counterpart is seven of 16 (six of eight) with a 2.17 GAA. Don’t let the rankings fool you, the goaltending and defense has been stellar these playoffs with St. Louis and Los Angeles both bolstering 1.60s. In short, the Western Conference is not goal-scoring friendly this year.
  • Coaching: Barry Trotz is back for his second year in a row in the second round. The Preds were looking as if they’d take a small setback from last year, but, in fact, Trotz is eyeing the exact opposite. Meanwhile, his counterpart in Dave Tippett always is working with less, and doing more. Obviously the loss of Ilya Bryzgalov is just an afterthought. Mike Smith has garnered appreciation, an exact opposite as he struggled for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars in years past.
  • Nashville needs even strength; Phoenix strives on special teams: The Preds are ranked second in goals for/goals against ratio while on even strength with a 1.86 + difference. They rank second behind the New Jersey Devils at 2.17. Meanwhile, the ‘Yotes are first in penalty killing in the playoffs with a 91.7 success rate. (Nashville’s is 80.8.) On the power play, Phoenix is fifth with a 22.7 success rate. (The Preds are 14th at 11.1.)
  • Wins when shooting less: Here’s where the Coyotes can take pride. All the Chicago Blackhawks¬†shots and changes didn’t mean a thing in the world to Smith. The ‘Yotes have five wins in the playoffs when outshot (including last night’s win). Nashville has three wins (against the Wings) in that department, so they’re a shy third with the Capitals in there at No. 2.
  • Shots (a continuation): The Coyotes are the absolute bottom of shooting in the playoffs with 26.1 per game. This adds to their ability to bounce teams with strong goaltending first and being able to face a barrage of shots themselves. Nashville ranks second worst in shots at 26.3. (This is going to be a very, very interesting series.) As for shots against, Phoenix takes the No. 1 spot for most faced with 40.4. Meanwhile the Preds are seventh with 30.7.

Final prediction: Coyotes in 6 games

It may be a stretch, but there’s the lingering feeling that this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs will go down in history as an unconventional one, or as a “joke” as some would like to refer to it. Regardless, while some thing the “Glendale” Coyotes don’t belong in the playoffs, this is the year they defy critics. As much as I’d like to see the Preds stay for their mohawks, it won’t be enough to get past Smith.

 

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Readers Comments (1)

  1. Rob says:

    Matt. You actually think the yotes can win a game six in Nashville after being out played in game 1? I think they should be more concerned with how They can keep Pekka and rads cooled off. I have the preds taking game 2 and the preds winning in 6 in Nashville.

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