What Factors Benefit the Penguins and Predators?

Welcome to the first edition of Stanley Cup Top 3

The Tennessean

The Stanley Cup Final is becoming what every sports fans hopes to see. The team that barely made the cut into the postseason going up against the defending champs. Sunday nights game 6 promises to be an exciting event to watch, with the Penguins possibly ending the series and winning the cup or the Predators able even the series up yet again and force a Game 7. Today, I’m going to go over the top 3 factors that both teams have in their favor.

The No. 3 factor in the East is goal tending. The Penguins are lucky enough to have 2 All-Star caliber goalies in Marc Andre-Fluery and Matt Murray. Murray, who was the starter for the 2016 Stanley Cup run, sustained an injury in the warm ups for Game 1 of the first round against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Marc Andre-Fluery stepped in and produced a 9–6 record, with a GAA of 2.56 and a save percentage of .924 in 15 postseason starts. Matt Murray stepped back into the playoffs during the Eastern Conference Final after Fluery allowed 4 goals during the first period of Game 3. Murray has looked a little slow in net while on the road in Nashville, but when he came home to Pittsburgh, he played an outstanding game. If Murray takes this with him into Game 6, it could mean the end of the season for the Predators.

My No. 3 pick for the Preds is also the goal tending. Pekka Rinne has played a hell of a postseason, with a 14–6 record, a GAA of 1.88, and a save percentage of .932%. When he is in his zone, he reminds me of Johnathon Quick in the 2012 playoffs, making you work hard for each and every goal. But when he’s not in his zone, it’s like shooting a puck at Swiss cheese. In the first two games in Pittsburgh, Rinne allowed 8 goals on 36 shots. He even was pulled in favor of Juuse Saros in the 3rd period of Game 2 after allowing three goals early in the third period — two of which came a mere 15 seconds apart from each other. He had another bad night in Pittsburgh, letting three goals through in the first period and sitting the rest of the game. He needs to get his footing back before Game 6 if the Predators want any hope of forcing a Game 7.

My No. 2 pick for the Eastern Conference is Sidney Crosby. He is arguably the best player in the world right now, with 8 goals and 16 assists while averaging 20 minutes of ice time in the postseason. Even after a concussion that doctors said could have ended his career, Crosby still plays the game with such passion and talent. In Game 5, he had three assists on the night and looked dangerous every time he was on the ice. If Crosby is on his a game, the Penguins will follow suit.

No. 2 for the Preds is P.K. Subban. Whether you love him or hate him, you know who he is. The controversy surrounding the blockbuster trade that brought him to Nashville last year has not died down much in the year following the trade. He’s been criticized for having too much energy in his pregame ritual and praised for donating $10 million to the Montreal Children’s Hospital. I personally think he is a talented player that comes up big when his teams needs it the most. But he’s also a bit of a show off, and the rumors surrounding his locker room antics leave something to be desired of him.

The top pick for Pittsburgh is the biggest asset they have to offer — Jake Guentzel. With a league-leading 13 goals in the postseason, this rookie has certainly made a name for himself. He has at least one goal in 3 of the 5 games against the Predators thus far in the series. If he can heat up with Crosby, it will definitely give Rinne more action.

No. 1 for the Predators in Filip Forsberg. Nine goals and seven assists do not even begin to tell the story of how valuable Forsberg has been to this playoff run. His goals have all come at the right times — when the Preds needed them most. He averages 17 minutes a night, a lot of ice time when you have a deadly shot like his.

Any way you cut it, both teams have talented rosters and the game can go either way. Game 6 heads to Nashville on Sunday night at 5pm PST. You don’t want to miss it.