The restart for the Nashville Predators in the NHL West Qualifying Series hasn’t gone as planned through the first three games.
Although the Predators are currently down in the series, sportsbooks aren’t counting them out just yet.
Recapping the first three games of the series
Despite the numbers not backing it up, Arizona is out to a 2-1 lead on Nashville, and one game away from moving forward in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This was always possible in the format the NHL chose.
With a limited training camp, teams are still likely getting their feet under them. And after just a few exhibition games, teams are playing the most important games of their season.
Now, Nashville is just one game away from losing the series and ending its season after just getting back in action. The positive is, the Predators are mostly playing good hockey from what the stats show. The negative is, they’ve struggled heavily in finishing the opportunities they’ve had.
Nothing showcased that more than Wednesday afternoon’s game when Nashville had nearly 20 shots in the first period — many of them good looks — and failed to find the net. The team finished with 40 shots and just one goal as Arizona won 4-1.
Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper isn’t seen as a star goalie around the league, but he’s looked like one this series. Whether that’s because of his own play or the Predators’ inability to challenge him is up for debate.
Game three mirrored game one in many ways. The Predators lost 4-3, despite 43 shots and dominant power plays. Nashville was actually down 4-1 in that game before two late goals that made it look a bit closer.
The second game of the series showed what the Predators can do when they actually take advantage of their opportunities. Despite by far the lowest number of shots through three games, Nashville scored four goals for a 4-2 win.
That included two goals in the first period. That was key, because Nashville has been outscored 4-1 in the first period in the other two games.
Game two was also a decent game for Juuse Saros. Saros has been below average in the first three games and will be a huge key in the Predators potentially pulling off a comeback.
Predators odds going into game four
After starting the series as the favorite to move on in the NHL Playoffs, the Predators are now a clear underdog facing elimination. Books still clearly see Nashville as having a decent chance of stringing together two wins to beat Arizona, though.
Despite needing the two consecutive wins, the Predators are still just +215 to win the series in five games on DraftKings Sportsbook. That could be the case for two reasons.
For one, Nashville is the better team overall. That’s why books saw them as a decent favorite and the public hammered that as well.
But even down 2-1, they still might be only a slight underdog because of the nature of the losses. Nashville has still dominated the puck for the most part and gotten a ton of good shots on net.
We know everything typically regresses to normal, and that could happen in the final two games of the series with the Predators turning those shots into goals.
For those believing things will regress to normal, the Predators winning the final two games to cash the +215 odds seems like a decent bet. But taking things one step at a time is also a fine choice.
Nashville is at -139 to win Friday’s game against Arizona and force a decisive final game on DraftKings Sportsbook. If the Predators do pull that off, they would in all likelihood be the favorite to also win game five and move on.
One decent player prop revolves around Filip Forsberg. The Predators center has looked fantastic so far in the series. He scored twice in the opening loss and has created numerous other opportunities that haven’t quite found the net.
He’s +1100 to score the first goal in Friday’s game.