The Jets and Predators meet in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, for the first time in franchise history, but surely not the last. This matchup could possibly be the Stanley Cup before the actual Stanley Cup. We actually could have seen this as a Stanley Cup matchup but they moved to conferences and divisions for playoffs. Unfortunately, the two best teams in the playoffs have to meet in the second round. Which after this they still need to go on and play another series before they can fulfill their Stanley Cup hopes.
Quick rundown of the Jets first round…
The Jets walked through the Wild, 4-1, outscoring the Wild 14 to 5 and winning all three games on home ice and taking one in Minnesota. The only game the Jets lost was the one after their whole travel issues situation when they landed in Minnesota on the day of the game. Either way, they got the job done much quicker than most thought perhaps and now have been well rested for six days until their first game Friday. The Jets leading scorer at the moment is Mark Scheifele, who has recorded 5 points in 5 games with 4 goals, 1 assist and 2 power play points. The Jets have a list of other players who have yet to step up and prove their worth. Although they only played five games, these players did contribute but heading into this series players, like Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers, Bryan Little and plenty more will be called upon often for support. The Jets only did play five games compared to some teams six or seven games.
The Jets have a lot of positives going for them into this next round, a solid Connor Hellbyuck, who has allowed just five goals in five games, despite the Jets allowing the second least shots on net per game(25.2), Hellbyuck has recorded 2 shutouts this playoff run already. The Jets did a solid job of staying out of the box for the most part in round one, but it would be tough to see that happen in round two with all the emotion and pressure that will be played within this next series. When emotions are running and the pressure is on, anything can happen. Which we will see from the drop of the puck in game one. The Jets special teams were not a huge part of their success but they got the job done with a 76.9 percent penalty kill and 23.1 percent power play.
A little rundown of the Predators first round...
The Predators lasted one more game then the Jets, getting robbed in game five by Andrew Hammond, forced an extra day of play for Nashville, which resulted in a 5-0 smackdown and the Predators inching closer to the Stanley Cup. Coming into the playoffs as the President trophy winners and the best team in the Western Conference as well the Predators have a target on their back. Especially making the Cup last year makes this Jets team want to beat the Predators a whole lot more. The Predators leading scorer in the playoffs was from two unfamiliar faces, Austin Watson and Colton Sissons as they both had 7 points in 6 games recording a combined, 7 goals and 7 assists, only one of those 14 points coming on the power play. Which makes this Predators team very dangerous as they have two third and fourth line players leading the way, as they still have some of the best forwards in the league. The Predators certainly match the Jets firepower up front, it all comes down who wants to produce on certain days for both teams. This series we should expect key guys for the Predators like Ryan Johansen, Kyle Turris, Viktor Ardvisson to step up a bit more but that is why a lot of fans came into this playoff season with the Predators as the favorite. They have multiple weapons on the front and back end.
As they have Norris nominee PK Subban paired with shut down defenseman Ryan Ellis, on the other line Mattias Ekholm paired with top-15 defenseman Roman Josi. The Predators are stacked top to bottom, they should be able to handle the Jets forward depth, but how the playoffs work, anything can happen. We can analyze all the x’s and o’s it won’t matter. The Predators did not need to rely on their special teams too much they handled the job at hand despite losing a bad one in game five on home ice, the Predators, for the most part, did what they had to do. A little tougher then most fans thought but in the end, the Predators are moving on. The Predators penalty kill performed at 90.0 percent and their power play 15.8 percent. A lot of special teamwork will come into play this round.
During the regular season, these two teams met six times and split the series 3 and 3. The Predators took two in Winnipeg and one in Nashville, winning two games by two goals and one game by one goal. The Jets three wins came with two on home ice and one away. Again each game was either a two-goal win or one-goal win. Between the six games, three games were two goal games and three games were one-goal games. This small sample size of their past meetings gives us somewhat of an idea of how this series will shape up.
Who is the winner…
Personally, I see the Predators taking it in seven, possibly six. The reason for it is because the Wild came into last round very unjuried and essentially already written off, now so did the Avalanche but, the Avalanche were living a Cinderella story. After their game three win, I think a lot of people turned their heads and started to think, well maybe this series can go differently. I think the Jets saw a little easier opponent and a team that was out of it early and did not give much of a fight. The Avalanche knew they were out of it but they never caved and always kept fighting which turned out to be a tougher matchup than the Predators had hoped or anyone really imagined. The Predators also just have a really solid team from top to bottom there is no real weakness in this teams top nine or top six on defense coupled with a veteran experienced goaltender. Who is a Vezina candidate and the favorite to win it. The Jets do also have Connor Hellebyuck the other Vezina candidate but, when push comes to shove. I see the Predators out muscling the Jets and playing a more consistent and sound game. Going Predators this series.