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Game 31: Detroit @ Nashville – Enemy at the Gates


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Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

The first meeting of these Central Division rivals came down to simply being outplayed, especially by one Valtteri Filppula. The Red Wings won the first match-up by a score of 4-1 and might set the tone for how the season series might go for the next 5 meetings.

Both teams are in the midst of a three game win streak, Detroit fresh off a win against the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Predators beating the Calgary Flames 2-1 in an epic goaltender dual between Rinne and Kiprusoff.

The question for tonight’s tussle is who will flinch first?

This Year’s Series: 0-1-0 (0-0-0 Home, 0-1-0 Away)

This Season’s Video Recaps:

Nov. 26 2011:

Looking at the Red Wings: One can’t help but marvel at the seeming un-aging team that makes up the core of the Detroit Red Wings. The usual suspects top the point leaders for Detroit such as Datsyuk, Franzen, Lidstrom and Zetterberg. A surprising addition is ranked third in points on the Red Wings: Valtteri Filppula.

Filppula put on a show against the Predators in their last meeting posting 2G, 1A and a +2 on the night. Jimmy Howard also shut down any attempts (which were few) for the Predators to get back into the game with a 13 save win.

Looking at the Predators: The Predators are tying complete games of effort into a nice three game win streak, the longest of the season for Nashville. Colin Wilson is stepping up and using his size, speed and hands to wreak havoc on the opposition. It also helps to be paired with a newly resurgent Jordin Tootoo and his offensive prowess that hasn’t been on such a display since his days playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Pekka Rinne is staying steady and the more ice time and wins he acquires, the better he will gets down the stretch. Fisher has been a monster in the face-off dot over the three wins and his FO% for the season has been on a steady incline to 52.6%

For the Red Wings to win: Keep relying on their horses. There is good reason the top players on Detroit are successful every year. The chemistry that Babcock employs for the roster is infectious and shows when their third and fourth lines could be 1st, 2nd or 3rd lines on other teams.

Howard has been quietly posting some of the best numbers in the league all season. Couple that with steady defensive play from the forwards to the blue-line makes Detroit a tough team to beat let alone play against.

For the Predators to win: Limit the amount of shots Detroit puts on net. If there is one thing Detroit does better and more frequent than most NHL teams, it is throw the puck at the net. Nashville needs to come out like they did Tuesday night with 18 shots on goal in the first. Nashville needs to limit time and space and clear traffic from the front of the net where Detroit is known to pot goals in the scramble.

Rinne will need to be in top form and Weber and Suter will have their hands full trying to slow down the full-on assault from Datsyuk, Franzen, Zetterberg and Filppula. And for good measure, get under the Red Wings skin and force them to take penalties: Nashville is still ranked in the top 5 in the NHL for PP% (20.8).

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