Today we are going to take a look at the First Round match-up between the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars
How We Got Here:
The Nashville Predators come into this series winning the Central Division, with a record of 47-29-6 (100 pts) and the Dallas Stars getting the first wild card spot in the Western Conference with a record of 43-32-7.
In the five match-ups between the two teams this season, the Nashville Predators had a record of 3-2-0 with the Dallas Stars having a record of 2-1-2.
The Season Overview:
While the Nashville Predators were not as dominant as the were last year when they won the President’s Trophy with the NHL’s best record, Nashville would win the Central Division again this season.
Nashville did have the injury bug hit them during the season with defenceman P.K. Subban missing 19 games with an upper body injury and forward Viktor Arvidsson missing 21 games with a thumb injury, the Predators would finish off the season strong, going 8-2-1 in the teams final games. Forward Filip Forsberg would also miss 17 games with an upper body injury during the season as well.
For the Dallas Stars, they did everything they could to hold off the Colorado Avalanche from getting the top wild card spot by winning five of their last seven contests (5-1-1).
On the defensive side of the puck, the Stars allowed the second fewest goals against per game (2.44) and in doing so goaltenders Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin were in the mix for the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals allowed until the latter part of the season.
Nashville: While Filip Forsberg was not the top point scorer this season, Forsberg still brings on a high energy to the team and will look to break out during this matchup. Forsberg also had a few highlight-reel goals during the 2018 playoffs and will look to add to his post-season point total with 42 points (22 goals and 20 assists) in the 55 Stanley Cup Playoff games that he has played thus far.
Dallas: Mats Zuccarello was acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers on February 23rd for a conditional second round 2019 draft pick and a conditional third round 2020 NHL Draft pick, but Zuccarello has not played a full game for the team. However, when Zuccarello has been in action, he has looked good, scoring three points (one goal, two assists) in two games, and has 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists) in 60 NHL playoff games.
Nashville: Pekka Rinne, once again, had an excellent season by going 30-19-4 with a GAA of 2.42 and a .918 save percentage. Rinne will look to have solid back-up in the net with Jusse Saros. Saros had a good season as the back-up, going 17-10-4 with a 2.62 GAA and a .915 save percentage.
Dallas: Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin had a great season teaming up in net, coming close to winning the William M. Jennings trophy, given to the goaltenders for allowing the fewest goals during the regular season, until they would fall toward the end of the season. Bishop had a record of 27-15-2 with a 1.98 GAA and an NHL best save percentage of .934. Bishop would also miss 16 games during the season due to injuries, but he will look to be 100% healthy during the postseason. Backup goaltender Anton Khudobin would go on to have a record of 16-17-5 with a 2.57 GAA and a .923 save percentage with two shutouts.
The Teams Will Win If:
Nashville: The special teams come out strong after finishing in last place on the power play with a 12.9% and keep the Stars from scoring. The Predators had a strong Penalty Kill, ranking sixth in the NHL with a 82.1% percentage on the PK.
Dallas: The Stars will win if they can get firepower scoring to match up with the goaltending during the season. Dallas finished 29th in the NHL with 2.55 goals per game and will look to improve and come out scoring early and often against a strong goaltender in Pekka Rinne.
Series Prediction: Nashville in 6
First Round Schedule is as follows (times are in ET):
Wednesday, April 10, 9:30 p.m.: Dallas Stars @ Nashville Predators | USA, SN1, TVA Sports
Saturday, April 13, 6 p.m.: Dallas Stars @ Nashville Predators | CNBC, SN, TVA Sports
Monday, April 15, 9:30 p.m.: Nashville Predators @ Dallas Stars| NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports
Wednesday, April 17, 8 p.m. Nashville Predators @ Dallas Stars| USA, SN, TVA Sports
*Saturday, April 20, TBD: Dallas Stars @ Nashville Predators | TBD
*Monday, April 22, TBD: Nashville Predators @ Dallas Stars| TBD
*Wednesday, April 24, TBD: Dallas Stars @ Nashville Predators | TBD