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Betting Coyotes Predators - Predators Have To Hold Serve At Home To Stay With Coyotes

Posted by Don Melrose on 6/5/2014 4:40:07 AM

The Nashville Predators looked like a Stanley Cup contender in the first round of the playoffs, but they've been rocked, socked and knocked off the block by the Phoenix Coyotes in round two.

West Semifinals, Game 4: Phoenix Coyotes @ Nashville Predators – Friday, May 4  
Sports betting line: N/A

Why Phoenix Will Win

When betting sites chime in on this game and give you a sense of where the money's moving in this NHL playoff series, they'll reflect a changing belief, the belief that Phoenix is a far more resilient and confident team than many pundits expected in these playoffs. The Coyotes have lived a barren existence consistent with their desert surroundings since they relocated from Winnepeg, Manitoba, in the 1990s, but they're now close to making the Western Conference finals for the first time in the state of Arizona.

Phoenix has a lot of no-name journeyman players, but they're all chipping in and scoring crunch-time goals, doing the little things to keep the Coyotes one goal ahead of the opposition. Coach Dave Tippett's crew is getting that one extra lucky bounce and carving out slight advantages at every turn, the definition of an opportunistic team.

The biggest reason for Phoenix's resurgence is goalie Mike Smith, who is not only playing well on a general level in these playoffs but is handling pressure with extraordinary grace, poise and composure. Smith played in five overtime games in the Coyotes' first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks, and he won three of them before closing down the series with a dominant performance in Game 6 on the road. Smith then won his fourth overtime game of the playoffs at the start of this series against Nashville. He has made impressive saves, yes, but what's more essential about Smith's performance over the past three weeks is that he's making clutch saves as well. Everything about this Phoenix team is clutch. It's hard to bet against that kind of momentum and that kind of locker-room cohesiveness.

Why Nashville Will Win

When betting online in the days before this game, you can look at the goaltending matchup, but it's also worth noting that in playoff hockey, desperation is often the best medicine for a team that's struggling. Nashville did not allow more than three goals in any of its five games against Detroit in the first round of the playoffs, but the Predators have given up more than three goals in each of the first two games of this West semifinal series against the Phoenix Coyotes. Nashville's defense has simply been spotty, and goalie Pekka Rinne has been shaky in net. How does this team or any team, for that matter, create a reversal of fortune? By playing desperate hockey, that's how. Nashville has to spill the tank, and with the Predators facing a must-win situation in this contest, they're more likely than not to deliver the goods.

Who Will Win?

Nashville has not looked good at all in the desert, but as this series shifts to the Southeastern United States, the tone and tenor should change. Look for the Predators to get back on their game and shut down Phoenix's offense for a change.

NHL Betting Pick: Nashville

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