The Jets get one last chance to close out the Predators and head to the Western Conference Finals.
After failing to close out in Game 6, the Winnipeg Jets are heading to Nashville once more. The Predators looked like an entirely different team from Game 5 and are hoping that momentum and home-ice advantage will be enough to propel them to a second straight Western Conference Finals appearance.
In a series that nobody can predict, one would assume that both teams will bring their best for Game 7. On the same token, one would have expected the Jets to put up more of a fight at home with a chance to advance. The 2017 NHL playoffs have proven that anything can happen to any team (ask the Pittsburgh Penguins). The only sure bet is that a catfish will be thrown onto the ice in Nashville before the puck drops: a tradition at Bridgestone Arena. Will Filip Forsberg and the Predators continue to score at will? Or will Mark Scheifele and the Jets make the Preds defense resemble the bottom-feeders their fans have adopted as a secondary mascot?
The Winnipeg fans were dressed in all white but they were quickly frozen out by the Predators electric play in Game 6. Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson looked unstoppable, each tallying two goals a piece. Pekka Rinne returned to form, snatching 34 saves and shutting out the Jets for the first time in the series. Patrik Laine and Paul Stastny were both kept quiet, much like their home fans, and will look to bounce back in the series clinching game.
Home ice-advantage has been a non-factor this series as both teams have won on the road. The Jets’ Mark Scheifele will hope to continue his domination of Bridgestone Arena, where he’s tallied five goals and three assists in three games this series. He will be the x-factor for a Jets offense that will desperately need to take Nashville’s raucous fans out of the game early. For the Predators, all eyes will be on Pekka Rinne. The Finnish goalie has been 2-3 in his last five home games, with a 3.93 goals-against average and .872 save percentage. If Rinne can control the crease and keep the dangerous Jets offense stifled, the Predators will have a great chance of advancing to face the Las Vegas Knights. If not, it will be a quiet night in Nashville.
Nashville and Winnipeg were the NHL’s top two teams in the regular season and both Pekka Rinne and Connor Hellebuyck are finalists for the Vezina Trophy. Through six games, both teams are tied in shots (177) and attempts (338). These teams match-up perfectly against one another and are sure to battle it out in Game 7.
The odds favor the Predators at home at -152 but series history tells us that it could be the Jets’ turn to win at +137. Whichever side you choose, be sure to bring some popcorn: this game will be a must-watch.