NHL playoffs 2017: Blues vs. Predators preview and prediction

The Predators are coming off a huge upset and sweep over the Blackhawks, but are running into an on-fire Blues team in the second round.

The Predators pulled off one of the craziest upsets in NHL playoff history in round one, as they steamrolled the Blackhawks on their way to a 4-0 sweep. While they dominated in their playoff opener, Nashville finds themselves in what could be a tougher matchup with the Blues in the second round.

The Blues were arguably the hottest team coming into the postseason, after their coaching change from Ken Hitchcock to Mike Yeo gave them a 22-8-2 finish to the regular season after a 24-21-5 start. They proved that their success wasn’t a fluke in the first round, as they took home a 4-1 series win over the Minnesota Wild to open the postseason, with Jake Allen carrying the team and giving up a two goals a game average.

The two teams only faced each other once after the Hitchcock firing and the switch to Yeo behind the bench for St. Louis, where Yeo’s Blues won 4-1 handily. However, the Predators did take a 3-2 record in the regular season overall, and will have to bounce back against Yeo’s squad that’s firing on all cylinders.

The key matchup to look out for will be the goalie battle, between Allen for the Blues and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne. Rinne didn’t allow a single goal on the road against the high-powered Blackhawks offense, and only allowed three goals total in net all series. Both goalies will make or break their respective teams in this series, and consistency will be a huge factor.

Series prediction: Predators win in 7

Both teams are on fire heading into this round, and each have the potential to either provide high-scoring, or an intense goalie battle between two of the best this postseason has seen. While Rinne did falter a bit (in the standards he set in the first two games) towards the end of the Chicago series, I believe he’s the more consistent goalie between the two teams.

The Predators are scoring well, defending well, and look unstoppable in all areas of their game in the opening round. On the other side, I think the Blues will struggle to get through Rinne’s wall, and Allen’s overall inconsistency will be a big factor. I think the series goes the distance, with the Predators taking it home and advancing to the conference finals.