The Pittsburgh Penguins are the NHL betting favorites to defeat the Nashville Predators in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals – beginning on Monday – and become back-to-back champions. The Preds will be a tough nut to crack, though. Perhaps fans who bet on hockey have never thought about this, but the Nashville team is little too generically named. Their logo appears to be a saber-toothed tiger, but the truth is the Predators have the ability to morph into whichever animal is higher than their rivals in the food chain.
First Round vs. the Chicago Blackhawks: Nashville Habitat Drainers win 4-0
The Chicago Blackhawks were more like the Cuban Blackhawks and the Preds were like the continued degradation and draining of its habitat, which also increases fragmentation of the population. The once Stanley Cup faves became extinct at the hands of the Predators, who swept them by a combined margin of 10 goals. That was the first announcement that Nashville meant business. Even more impressive, the Preds were sportsbook underdogs in all but game 3 of the series. Goalie Pekka Rinne showed his worth to the cause by posting two shutouts in the first two games and allowing only three goals in the following two. The ‘Hawks became the first No. 1 seeded team to lose in the first round since the Los Angeles Kings eliminated the Vancouver Canucks on their way to the Stanley Cup in 2012.
Second Round vs. St. Louis Blues: Nashville Heavy Metal wins 4–2
The Preds exchanged their country twang for a death metal growl in order to play their own extreme version of the St. Louis Blues. Nashville started out the series as NHL betting underdogs, but the tide slowly changed and fans who bet on hockey were fully backing them by the end of it. Ryan Johansen scored 3:15 into the third period of game 6, and Nashville advanced to the first conference finals ever in the history of the franchise, following four unsuccessful attempts. At that point, the Preds were undefeated 9-0 at home in the postseason, a streak dating back to last year’s playoffs. “It’s obviously a tough building,” Blues goalkeeper Jake Allen said of Bridgestone Arena. “So whoever they play next is going to have their hands full.” And boy was he ever right.
Conference Finals vs. Anaheim Ducklings: Nashville Snapping Turtles win 4–2
The Preds won two games as NHL betting dogs and another two as favourites to earn their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. Not too shabby for a team that has yet to win a single division title in 19 years of existence, and which entered with the fewest points of any team in these playoffs. Head coach Peter Laviolette became the fourth man to take three different squads to the Finals, as well as the first since the postseason split into conference play back in 1994. The Nashville Preds will play the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins for the Stanley Cup. Game 1 is this Monday.