On Friday night, the Nashville Predators will have a shot at eliminating the Colorado Avalanche from the NHL playoffs. But can they get it done? Dig in below for full predictions and analysis.
If we’ve gained any insight so far from this series between the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche, it’s this: Game 5 is going to be a slugfest, and likely a reversal from Game 4. Which means Friday night might offer us the best contest we’ve seen yet.
As of now, the Predators lead the matchup 3-1, but it could just as well be 2-2 or even 3-1 in favor of the Avalanche. Both clubs have found themselves swinging from one style of play to another, often in a matter of a single period. For example, Colorado came out in Game 1 with a fire that Smashville probably didn’t expect. It lead to an early lead for the Avalanche but the Predators adjusted and fought their way to a win in the third frame.
Don’t be fooled by the 5-2 final of that one. Colorado absolutely had Nashville on its heels. Game 2 was a different story. The Avalanche made plenty of mistakes. They allowed some odd man rushes, had costly errors in communication, and Nashville took advantage to win it 5-4. But the Preds again came out flat in Game 3. Aside from a surge in the final period, they were thoroughly outplayed by the top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen. Those three pushed Colorado to an early 4-0 lead which it never surrendered.
And so the series seemed destined to be knotted at two a piece on Wednesday. That is, until the real Nashville showed up again. The Preds dominated to the tune of a 3-0 lead by the end of the second period. It really wasn’t even close, until the Avalanche decided to create a surge of their own. They scored two to make it tight in the final minutes. Honestly, they owned the period by far. In fact, Nashville appeared to have completely lost its game plan.
Which leaves us with Game 5. We want to know which team is going to show up. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess. Is Nashville going to come out unprepared for an Avalanche push? It has twice already. How does Colorado netminder Andrew Hammond respond? He will start on Friday in place of Jonathan Bernier who left Game 4 with an injury.
With all of that, let’s head beyond the wall and into the cave of the three-eyed raven for some looks to the future.
1: Andrew Hammond is going to backstop this Colorado club to a victory. It may not be beautiful, but it will work. This is the type of hockey story we love and one that seems to happen every season. Third-string goalie is forced into duty, plays out of his brain, saves team, ends up on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon discussing his “Hamburglar” nickname. It won’t be swell for them long-term of course, but it will at least take this series back to Colorado for Game 6.
2: Austin Watson is going to have another solid to above solid game for Nashville. It won’t be enough for the Preds to win, but he’s having a pretty nice series right now and it should continue. On Wednesday he picked up another point to give him five so far. He has at least one in all four games. For a guy who only tallied 19 in the regular season, he’s making his mark when it matters. Let’s say he nets two goals.
3: Nathan MacKinnon will have his best performance of the series. In Game 3, he was a beast. He had two goals on seven shots, a plus three rating, and was a force in the offensive zone all night. But he can be better. We’ve seen it. Also, MacKinnon doesn’t want to start golfing just yet. We’ll likely burn up in the atmosphere with this scorcher of a take, but it’s on. The Avs superstar will pot a hatty with an assist. Boom.
Game 5: Colorado 5, Predators 3