TCL Round 2 Staff Predictions: Phoenix Coyotes vs. Nashville Predators


2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Western Conference Semifinals
Phoenix Coyotes ( 3 ) vs. Nashville Predators ( 4 )
If the first round opponents of these two teams would be facing each other instead of the Preds and Coyotes, we'd be talking about two of the biggest rivals in NHL history, and two recent Stanley Cup winners. But we're not talking about them. We're talking about two underdog teams that got to the second round by beating perennial favorites, with great goaltending, great coaching, and a lot of hard work. It's surprising that the Phoenix Coyotes are even still in the league, yet alone in the second round of these playoffs, after taking out the Chicago Blackhawks. And while many of us expected the Nashville Predators to have a good run, it was still fairly impressive to see them make quick work of the Red Wings.
The focus now turns to what these two teams can do to beat each other. How does Nashville solve Mike Smith? How do the preds get past Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, only to stare down the mask of Pekka Rinne, a well-deserved Vezina finalist? As a matter of fact, how are either of these teams going to score any goals at all this series? We're not going to bank on this necessarily being a defensive series, because frankly nothing about either of these two teams make any sense, but it should be a good battle on both sides of the ice. 
Now, here's the funny part. Everyone here at TCL picked the Preds to take this series. On paper, they're a much more complete team and General Manager David Poile made a plethora of moves to make them the favorite in the series. But if round one proved anything, it's that no one should discount Mike Smith and the Phoenix Coyotes. Still, we have to go with what we know, and what should make sense, and that's Nashville making it to their first Western Conference Final.
Consensus: UNANIMOUS Consensus -- Predators in 5.
Round 1 Results:
Coyotes vs. Blackhawks: Only 3 out of 15 people predicted a Coyotes victory. The TCL consensus was Hawks in 5. The Coyotes of course defeated the Hawks in 7. Newman perfectly predicted Coyotes in 7.
Predators vs. Red Wings15 of 21 TCL writers correctly predicted a Preds victory, with 6 games as the general consensus. Evan Pivnick perfectly predicted Preds in 5.
Game 1: Fri. April 27 at 9PM in Phoenix
Game 2: Sun. April 29 at 8PM in Phoenix
Game 3: Wed. May 2 at 9PM in Nashville
Game 4: Fri. May 4 at 4:30PM in Nashville
Game 5: Mon. May 7 at 7PM in Phoenix (if necessary)
Game 6: Wed. May 9 at TBD in Nashville (if necessary)
Game 7: Fri. May 11 at TBD in Phoenix (if necessary)
*All Puckdrops are in Eastern Standard Time*
Season Series: Tied 2-2, 12 goals a piece.
Previous Playoff Meetings: None
Coaching Battle: Dave Tippett vs. Barry Trotz
Key Injuries:
Phoenix: Kurt Sauer (concussion, done), Michal Rozsival (upper body, DTD), Raffi Torres (suspended)
Nashville: Hal Gill (lower body, DTD)
Genius Or Madness?
John Russo - Predators SWEEP in 4
I just don't see the magic behind the Coyotes and goalie Mike Smith. They won their series against the Hawks because of a Chicago letdown and the instability of their goalie Corey Crawford. Nashville is a dangerous team and possibly the best team in the West after their man-handling of the Red Wings in the first round. Pekka Rinne is the best goalie in his conference (and the third Vezina finalist) and the Shea Weber-Ryan Suter pairing is the best in the NHL. I think it's a clean sweep for the Preds, who go to their first ever WCF to play a very tough series against the Kings/Blues.
Prax's Take:
This series is quite clearly Pekka Rinne vs. Mike Smith. And that, my friends, makes it quite unpredictable. On the surface, the Coyotes don't have a lot to brag about. Sure, they have Keith Yandle and Shane Doan, but most of the rest are quite evidently a ragtag group of players that no one else wanted (on the team that not a lot of people want either). But they made it work in round one against the Blackhawks, and with Smith and a number of players who could step up, they could make it work again. But the Preds are very much in the same boat. They have a Vezina caliber goalie in Rinne, two Norris caliber defensemen in Weber and Suter, and a surprising amount of firepower that's due to break out. When Gabriel Bourque is your leading scorer after one round, something has to give. And let's not forget the impending return of Mr. Wrestlemania himself, Hal Gill. I think this is the Preds' series to lose, but I'm not confident enough in the Coyotes' demise to predicting anything less than a full seven games.
Around The Checking Line:
Featured Writer -- Mark Trible:
Last year, I picked Nashville to make the Cup and they didn't. This year, I had them losing in the first round and they didn't. They'll clearly do the opposite of whatever I say. Despite Mike Smith's brilliance, the Predators are just too much for Phoenix. You're welcome, Coyotes.
Prediction: Predators in 6
Featured Writer -- Kyle Andrew Busch: 
I truly believe that Mike Smith is an up and coming star. I also believe that Pekka Rinne already is one. I think both of them are good enough to cancel each other out, but watching Nashville against Detroit, they get goals from unlikely players like Gabriel Bourque and Kevin Klein. Their depth is apparent, and it's deeper than Phoenix. The Coyotes definitely benefit from using some money from Ilya Bryzgalov's contract to sign some depth like Antoine Vermette and Rostislav Klesla, but Nashville is a better team.
Prediction: Predators in 6
Featured Writer -- Adam Pardes:
It's all about the goalies. Both Rinne and Smith were impressive in the first round and will undoubtedly continue to play on their heads. Ultimately, I think the Preds balanced attack and physical play will wear down the Coyotes in this tight series.
Prediction: Predators in 7
Featured Writer -- Newman:
The better team will prevail and Nashville is the best team left in the playoffs. It will be extremely tight but I think the Preds will prevail in OT in game 6. That's how exact I like to be.
Prediction: Predators in 6
Featured Writer -- Jordan Kuhns: 
Another defensive-minded, tough series for the Western Conference. Hockey fans saw Mike Smith completely steal the show from the Chicago Blackhawks. This series will come down to two amazing goaltenders and the defenders in front of them. I see the Preds as a more dynamic and offensively talented team that can still play stifling defense. The Coyotes still have the ability to surprise us though.
Prediction: Predators in 6
A.K. Bennett:
 Phoenix was able to ride goalie Mike Smith to beat Chicago, but won't be able to do that against Pekka Rinne and the Predators. The Predators have a deeper, more balanced team than Phoenix which will help them edge out the Coyotes. This should be a really good series as both teams have the ability to make a long playoff run for the first time in a long time.
Prediction: Predators in 7
Andy Veilleux:
The Predators dismantled Detroit, which is no easy feat. They are getting deep scoring, Radulov has looked like he never left the NHL, and their defense and goaltending are top-class. The work ethic among most Nashville forwards has been impressive and the Coyotes are not going to know what hit them. Smith has been hot but he will have a tough time against the rocket-fueled Predators' skaters.
Prediction: Predators in 5
Bryan Wright: 
The Preds are easily the best team left in the West, and shouldn't have any trouble with the Coyotes. We all know lightning doesn't strike twice, and I see no reason why Phoenix would be able to win another playoff series. Nashville is the better team in pretty much every department, and I don't see the 'Yotes putting up much of a fight.
Prediction: Predators in 5
Larry D'Angelo: 
Obviously this series will come down to the goaltending as both net minders are bringing a 1.81 GAA into this second round matchup. With the defense the Predators have it will be tough for Phoenix to beat Pekka Rinne. The one game Phoenix will win in this series will be a direct result of the play of their goalie, Mike Smith. With the way these net minders are protecting their "House", don't expect this series to be a high scoring one.
Prediction: Predators in 5
Maggie Avila:
I believe Nashville and Phoenix are similiar only Nashville does everyting better than Phoenix. The Blackhawks are physically smaller and weak at the center position. They struggled with their special teams all year and their goaltending was shakey that will not be the case with Nashville who is strong in all the areas the Hawks were not. .
Prediction: Predators in 6
Nick Symon: 
I give the Coyotes full marks for beating the Blackhawks in the first round but they went up against Corey Crawford who was average at best. They now run into the Nashville Predators and Pekka Rinne. Rinne will be the difference and with the Preds beig the better all-around team, they will take this one in five. I expected a big series from Mike Fisher who only had two points against the Red Wings.
Prediction: Predators in 5
Robert D'Aurelio:
Nashville is bursting with confidence after beating the Red Wings handily. They might get another quality player back in Hal Gill this series and it will prove to be beneficial against a good Phoenix squad. Like the other series in the west, these two teams play similar styles. However, the styles are far less boring and are predicated on puck control and speed. Since neither team has any game breaking forwards, the light will be shined on the goaltenders. If Jimmy Howard had trouble matching Pekka Rinne last round, I expect Mike Smith to struggle the same.
Prediction: Predators in 5
Ty Fisher: 
Can't help but shake this feeling that, with a playoffs completely wide-open and devoid of any real juggernauts, Nashville might just assume the role of the latter coming into the final stretch here. The beat-down they imposed on a good, yet aging Detroit squad was critical in defining just how solid of a team they are. This series is going to dominated by defense and goal-tending (much like the other Western series), and I expect Nashville to come out on top rather easily, thanks largely to Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. Here's hoping I can get used to all that yellow on the television screen when the Preds play at home, they're not going anywhere anytime soon.
Prediction: Predators in 5



George Prax's picture

Sorry they're late, just wanted to note all predictions were made before game 1 last night.

John Russo's picture

Thanks for letting the whole world know I'm a moron. The hockey gods have been mocking me the past few days because of it.

George Prax's picture

Hey literally everyone here picked the Preds lol. You just had more balls than the rest of us Tongue