The fourth-seeded Nashville Predators will face the fifth-seed Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the 2012 Playoffs, which open in Nashville. The teams split their six-game series during the season, with each team winning in the others building once. The teams are evenly matched when evaluating goals scored and allowed during the season with the Red Wings having a slight edge overall. The Red Wings have allowed 11 shorthanded goals during the season, which is near the top of the league, a definite problem due to an ineffective power play.
The Predators have a solid defense with Pekka Rinne in goal along with Shea Weber and Ryan Suter on defense. The forwards feature Mike Fisher, Martin Erat, Patric Hornqvist, Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn, along with Alexander Radulov, who recently returned from the KHL in Russia. The mentioned forwards give the Predators scoring punch they lacked on previous teams. The Predators also have other support at forward including pest Jordin Tootoo who does a good job of stirring up the opponent.
The Red Wings have a solid defense, with Jimmy Howard in goal along with the perfect human Nicklas Lidstrom on defense. The Red Wings also have good defensive support with Ian White, Brad Stuart, Niklas Kronwall, and Jonathon Ericsson along with trade deadline acquisition Kyle Quincy. The forwards feature Pavel Datsyuk, the best two way player in the NHL, along with Henrik Zetterberg. Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler have elevated their performance this season, particularly when the Red Wings had numerous injuries. Of course, one cannot forget Tomas Holmstrom, aggravating opponents with his presence in front of the opposition’s goaltender.
The question is which team will prevail during the seven-game series. The Predators have the home-ice advantage, along with coach Barry Trotz who is one of the best coaches in the NHL. Also the Predators feature one of the better defensive pairings in the league (Weber/Suter) along with additional scoring punch. The Predators also feel that they have the team to go deeper in the playoffs this season, so they will not be lacking confidence. They also have a score to settle with the Red wings who have eliminated them before. The Predators moved up in the standings passing the Red Wings, which should be another reason for them to feel confident when they play the Red Wings.
The Red Wings were at the top of the NHL with their record setting 23 winning home streak. After Vancouver ended the winning streak on February 23, 2012, the Red Wings incurred many injuries and had difficulty winning games from that point until season’s end. The Red Wings dropped to fifth place in the Conference, but the Red Wings did not use the injuries as an excuse even though they had a definite effect. A common problem with the Red Wings is they would lose to the lower tier teams often exhibiting a less than a full sixty-minute effort. This type of play occurred the last six weeks. The lack of effort by the Red Wings has been a problem the last two seasons’, and was mentioned by this writer last season when the article was written, “Which Red Wing Team Will Show Up”? This still seems to be a problem. The Red Wings win the series in six games if they decide to show up in Nashville, but if not, Nashville will prevail.