The Predators continue their “best of 19″ series when they face off against their arch-rival the Detroit Red Wings in game 5 of their current 5 game homestand and the third game of a 4 game workweek in one of the toughest weeks of the Predators season and the first of a home and away back to back.
Looking at the Red Wings: After dropping 6 of 8 prior, the Red Wings have went on to win their past 4 games, however they were ALL relatively close games and only ONE was against a quality playoff opponent (2-1 OTW vs Edmonton, 5-3 W vs St. Louis, 3-2 W vs Washington, 2-0 W vs Columbus). Their special teams have been doing fairly well as of late too. The Red Wings penalty kill has been perfect in 6 of their last 8 outings and 31-33 in those 8 (93.9%). The Red Wings powerplay has been hitting it as of late, scoring at least once in the last 3 games and 6-31 in their past 8 (19.4%). BUT, if you take off that measly 1-9 powerplay performance against Anaheim on March 2nd, then their powerplay would be 5-22 in their past 7 (22.7%)
Looking at the Predators: The Predators have had a pretty good March so far (4-2-2) and it just got better with that overtime win over Boston on Thursday. Just to see how nice it was, the Predators FINALLY got a win in the 5 minute overtime period when going 0-6 previously before that. What was the game winner, you ask?
You can’t stress this enough but GOOD THINGS HAPPEN WHEN YOU GET SHEA WEBER THAT OPEN WITH TIME TO SHOOT. I know it was on a 4 on 3 powerplay in overtime, but STILL! Tuuka Rask said afterwards that he saw “nothing” on Shea Weber’s shot, he didn’t even SEE the puck until it was behind him. That win pumped a lot of confidence into this Nashville Predators team and could push them through this back to back today and tomorrow
For the Red Wings to win: Find a way to win in Nashville. The Red Wings have had a mediocre record as of late in Nashville against the Predators. They won 2 in overtime last year to give them the 2-1-0 series tie in Nashville (who went 1-0-2); they also went 1-2-0 in Nashville the year before that (which included the 8-0 blowout) and 0-1-0 this year. The Wings know how to play the Predators and usually do fairly well against them, but since February 22nd they’ve gone 3-4-1 against playoff opponents. That record needs to DRASTICALLY improve if they want to continue winning. Yes, they’ve all but locked up the Central Division, but it would be good for the Wings to go into the playoffs winning a BIT, so they don’t start out on the wrong foot (like last year, where they ALMOST lost to Phoenix before getting nearly swept out by San Jose and losing in 5)
For the Predators to win: Hit hard, hit early, hit all game. The Predators beat the Red Wings when they play a full 60 minute superiorly physical game. Why don’t they do that every game? Who knows, but when it comes to the Wings, they do. For whatever reason that is, they play the Wings like it’s the Stanley Cup finals. This year, the Predators have gone 3-1-0 against the Wings with a chance to lock up the regular season series tonight. The Predators also have a chance to scoot back into the top 8 with a win tonight, which is something they direly need as they head out to Buffalo after tonights game. The Predators NEED these points and need to not be so stressed for tomorrow afternoons game, as the team will most likely get into Buffalo around 2-3am, sleep for 4-5 hours, have their daily activities and then play a team who is ALSO starting a back-to-back tonight. So? The Preds need to score a couple early and hold the Wings down for the remainder
Prediction: 4-2 Predators. Nashville always plays their hardest when they play the Red Wings, that won’t change tonight. There is nothing in my blood that even HINTS at a Red Wings win tonight as 1) The Preds know when to turn it on and ALWAYS do against the Wings and 2) The Preds know how BIG these 2 points tonight are
Playoff Outlook: 82 points, Currently, 9th place – 1 points out of 8th, 2 points out of 7th, 3 points out of 5th
Best of 19 Record: 4-2-2
March Record: 4-2-2
What SportsClubStats Says?: 63% chance the Predators make it. The Predators need 99+ points to secure a playoff spot. They are currently 17 points out of a possible 24 points behind that
WHO TO ROOT FOR TONIGHT?:
NASHVILLE PREDATORS vs Detroit Red Wings
LOS ANGELES KINGS vs Anaheim Ducks
Dallas Stars vs PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Minnesota Wild vs COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
San Jose Sharks vs ST. LOUIS BLUES
Thanks for reading!