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We knew the Jets-Predators series would be a dogfight featuring two of the best teams in the Western Conference (and the entire league) and the series lived up to the hype. It was Winnipeg who came out on top, though, with a massive Game 7 win on the road in Nashville to advance to the Western Conference final.
Here, we broke down all aspects of their second-round matchup and offered our series predictions:
How to watch
(All times Eastern)
* = If necessary
- Game 1 (Friday, April 27): Jets 4, Predators 1
- Game 2 (Sunday, April 29): Predators 5, Jets 4 (2OT)
- Game 3 (Tuesday, May 1): Jets 7, Predators 4
- Game 4 (Thursday, May 3): Predators 2, Jets 1
- Game 5 (Saturday, May 5): Jets 6, Predators 2
- Game 6 (Monday, May 7): Predators 4, Jets 0
- Game 7 (Thursday, May 10): Jets 5, Predators 1
The Predators have better depth than anyone, and that showed in their 4-2 series win over the Avalanche, in which the third line of Austin Watson, Colton Sissons and Nick Bonino stayed busy around the net. Two of Nashville's eight 40-point scorers come from the blue line, and Peter Laviolette is never lacking for lineup options. But Winnipeg gets the slight edge here simply because of their star power. Patrik Laine might not have it as easy as he did against the Wild, but he's still a threat to score every time he has the puck. A healthy Mark Scheifele makes Winnipeg even more dangerous, and between Paul Stastny, Blake Wheeler and an active Dustin Byfuglien, there's no denying that the Jets will be hard to pin down.
Byfuglien can help the Jets get under Nashville's skin, but even if Tyler Myers, Toby Enstrom and Dmitry Kulikov were all completely healthy, the Preds would be hard to top. The defending conference champs had some trouble against the Avs' speed, which doesn't exactly bode well for matchups against Laine, but they've seen Winnipeg plenty before, and there's still enough gritty experience between P.K. Subban, Mattias Ekholm, Roman Josi and a slew of other blue-liners who, unlike those on the Jets, have a postseason run already under their belt. There's also the matter of goaltending ...
What a matchup we have here. Two Vezina Trophy finalists. These are the kind of things that make the NHL playoffs so intense. Even as a nominee for the league's top goalie award, Connor Hellebuyck has been underrated for his role in Winnipeg's surge, logging two shutouts and replicating his regular-season .924 save percentage in the Jets' first series. But Pekka Rinne, the ageless wonder on the other end of the ice, is still Pekka Rinne. Especially dangerous at home, he's got the edge in experience, and while his 15-4-1 all-time record vs. Winnipeg might be skewed by some of the Jets' bad teams of late, he can still steal games.
Here's the thing: Nashville is pretty good at defending the power play, killing more than 80 percent of its penalties in the regular season and a whopping 90 percent of them in its first series vs. the Avs. But that's probably in part because they go to the penalty box so often. No one had more penalties than the Preds this year, they gave Colorado 20 power plays in six first-round games, and history says it might get worse against a rival in the Jets. With Winnipeg's top-line talent and success with extra-man advantages, this has the potential to be a series swinger -- an X-factor that could severely affect Rinne and offset the Preds' home-ice edge.
Benjamin: This series might be one of the best of the playoffs. We've got big-time scorers, some of the game's best goalies and, inevitably, an intensity that'll spark some scuffling. The Jets could frustrate the Predators to the point that Nashville starts eating itself with a lack of discipline, but I can't overlook their depth and experience just yet. Maybe next year, Winnipeg. Predators in 7.
Blackburn: This is a heavyweight tilt featuring strength vs. strength and it should be one of the more interesting series we see all postseason. The Jets have an absolutely lethal front six, and the Preds' calling card is their defense. Given the way the two teams played in the first round (Winnipeg dominated Minnesota, Nashville was surprisingly tested vs. Colorado) makes me lean Jets, but I think depth and postseason experience has potential to play a big factor for Nashville. Jets in 7.
Skiver: As with any series that's predicted to go to 7 games, this one is a toss-up. And as with any toss-up, I have the more resilient team winning. Despite a bumpy first series against the Avalanche, I think that the Predators can hold off a relentless Jets forecheck. Look for Pekka Rinne to keep up his solid play, as the Predators just survive a tough series with one of the best in the West. Predators in 7.