The Stanley Cup Final moves back to the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh tonight with the series knotted up 2-2. After winning the first two games of the series, the Penguins dropped both games in Nashville and look to bounce back in the absence of the Predators’ rowdy fan base. The Predators come into game five as the underdogs at +135, while the Penguins are favored at -155. The Over/Under is set at 5.5 goals with the over valued at +110 and the under at -130. Here’s my Stanley Cup Finals game five preview and free pick.
Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne has been the biggest reason for the Predators’ making it to their first ever Stanley Cup Final. Through the first three rounds of the playoffs he posted a .941 save percentage and a 1.83 GAA. Rinne cooled down for the games one and two of the Final though, getting lit up by the Penguins for a .778 save percentage. After his disappointing performance to open the series in the ‘Burgh, he looked like a Conn Smythe contender once again in game three and four. Rinne stopped 50 of 52 shots on home ice while making many huge saves against the Pens in game four.
The Predators offense in the series has been effective and has been powered by forwards Frederick Gaudreau (3-0-3 in Final) and Calle Jarnkrok (1-3-4 in Final) as well as defenseman Roman Josi (1-3-4 in Final) who leads the finals with 17 shots on goal.
The Penguins have received heavy offensive contributions from Jake Guentzel, who leads the playoffs in goals with 13. Pittsburgh has also received offense from superstars Sidney Crosby (1-4-4 in the Final) and Evgeni Malkin (2-0-2 in the Final, 9-17-26 in playoffs). Goaltender Matt Murray was very solid in games one and two but allowed 8 goals on 58 shots in the presence of the heckling Nashville crowd.
Keys To The Game
The Predators’ success in game five of the Stanley Cup Final relies heavily on whether Rinne can find his footing on the road in Pittsburgh. Will he play like the potential playoff MVP or will he get torched in The Steel City again? For Nashville to pull out a win against the leagues leading offense, Rinne will need to be on the top of his game.
The Penguins will need to figure out their powerplay and receive quality goaltending from Matt Murray to stop the Preds’ momentum. The Pens have gone 1 for 16 on the man advantage in the series with the lone goal coming in the first game of the Final. If Rinne plays like he did at home, Pittsburgh will need to capitalize on any chances they get.
After allowing eight goals in the two games in Nashville there was some speculation to whether the Penguins would give Marc-Andre Fleury the start in game five, but it was confirmed by coach Mike Sullivan that they would stick with the 23-year old Murray. He will need to play outstanding to stop the momentum that the Preds built in games three and four and keep his team in the game, especially if Rinne is shutting down the Penguins like he did at Bridgestone Arena.
Stanley Cup Finals Game Five Pick
Nashville’s chance to get the win in game five of the Stanley Cup Final hinges on the play of goaltender Pekka Rinne. After abysmal performances in games one and two, he was able to shine in front of the Predators’ hometown crowd. I believe the Predators will continue the momentum gained at home to steal game five in Pittsburgh. In my Stanley Cup Finals game five pick, I like the Preds at +135 and the under of 5.5 goals at -130.
Stanley Cup Finals Game Five Pick: Nashville at +135 and under 5.5 goals at -130