Stanley Cup Preview: Predators vs. Penguins

The Penguins are here again and have a chance to repeat as champions. They would be the first to do so since the 98 Red Wings. But to get to that point they must defeat the Predators.

The Preds are the hottest team in hockey right now with a lot of no names. 

The Predators exemplify what it means to play as a team.

Because of this team first mentality, they got to the finals as the 16th seed. They are the first 16th seed ever to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Their defense and goaltending is what they count on most.

Their goaltending lead by Pekka Rinne, which is the best goalie in the playoffs this season. He’s focused and determined and a huge reason that they’re here.

The defensive core is full of number 1 defenseman and help a lot with on offense. They move the puck well and know when to make a shot or create sneaky passes. Their forwards are led by Filipino Forsberg, James Neal, Colton Sissons, and Victor Arvidsson. Each player is extremely dangerous with the puck and can score at anytime. But the most dangerous part of this team is how they create screens in front of the net. That’s how the score and what they focus on in the offensive zone.

Onto the Penguins.

They’re back again and are a determined group still. Even though the Preds play as a team, so do these Pens. 

They know how to keep eachother focused and in it. The series against the sens showed how close this group is. They could be folded under the frustration but stayed determined. Throughout these playoffs the Pens have had to learn to adapt their game to beat opponents and stay focused to beat top goaltenders. Even though this teams defense is tough I find it hard to believe the Pens can’t beat them. I mean they beat the Sens and goalies such as Sergei Bobrovsky, Braden Holtby, and Craig Anderson. But throughout this series there will be certain key things to watch for.

1. Nashville Screens

The Preds, like I was saying like yo throw a lot of bodies to the front of the net. The Pens defense will have to “remove them” in order to stop their offense. If the Pens can do this then I really like their chances.

2. Pens in the face off circle

The Pens got a bountiful amount of depth down the center of the ice compared to Nashville. If you want to beat Nashville it starts at the face off circle. With Ryan Johansson being injured the Pens have a huge amount of depth over the Preds. So if the Pens control the the circle then they should be able to control the game. Which leads to my 3rd point of how the Pens can win. 

3. Control the puck

Whoever controls the puck more will obviously get a huge advantage to win. But if the Pens win the face off circle then that’ll lead to controlling the puck. The Pens will hold the puck more and that’ll lead to more chances for them.

This series is going to be a tough series for both teams. But it’ll come down to goaltending and puck possession. With Matt Murray and the depth down center ice I definitely see the Pens having the advantage there. But Nashville is a very good and opportunistic team and will create issues for the Pens. But if the Pens play like they did against Ottawa then I believe they’ll get a similar result.

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