Predators Game Day Preview: Nashville @ Detroit

04-09_medium

Red Wings blogs: Winging It In Motown, Abel to Yzerman

TV (HD): FS-TN (Comcast 28/247, Dish Network 449/9519, DirecTV 644/644-1)

Radio104.5 "The Zone" (WGFX)

The mission from here on in is clear; as Al Davis would say, "just win, baby."

Questions to be answered: (1) Can the defense tighten up after a disappointing second period Tuesday against Chicago? In general, they've played well over the last few weeks. (2) Is Pekka Rinne capable of bringing a "steal the victory"-type of effort against the top offense in the NHL? (3) Can some of Nashville's lesser offensive players take advantage of what has often been shoddy Red Wings goaltending? They can't rely entirely on the Sully/Arnott/Dumont line for goals.

Predators coming in: Tuesday's home loss to Chicago has left the Preds two points behind St. Louis and Anaheim with just two games to play.  Neither of those rivals play tonight, so the Preds can't wait for help; they have to put pressure on the Blues & Ducks themselves.

Red Wings coming in:It's all but certain that Detroit will be the #2 seed in the Western Conference (they'd have to win out and San Jose would have to lose out for them to get the top spot), so there's very little on the line for the Red Wings other than wanting to ensure the team is playing at a high level heading into the playoffs.

Predators to watch: Jason Arnott has been outstanding since his return, and with his 30th goal of the season Tuesday, stands just one away from the team record set by both Steve Sullivan and Paul Kariya in 2005-6. With his 46th assist in that game, J.P. Dumont has set a new personal best on that front. Sully leads all Predators in scoring against Detroit this season, with 3 goals and 5 assists in 4 games.

Red Wings to watch: Pavel Datsyuk has a shot at his first 100-point season (currently with 96), and has 2 goals with 5 assists in his last 4 games.

Here's a look at the two teams in the main statistical categories, along with overall NHL rank:

Nashville Detroit
 Record 39-33-8 19th 51-19-9 3rd
 Pts % .538 19th .703 3rd
 Goals For/Game 2.50 23rd 3.60 1st
 Goals Against/Game 2.71 10th 2.91 21st
 5-on-5 GF/GA 0.94 20th 1.23 2nd
 PP% 15.6 25th 25.4 1st
 PK% 83.6 3rd 78 25th
 Shots/Game 28.9 19th 36.4 1st
 Shots Against/Game 29.4 10th 27.8 2nd
 FO % 52.2 3rd 55.4 1st

That's an intimidating view, but Nashville is 3-2 against Detroit so far this season.

Next, let's see which players draw penalties, and which ones head to the box (data through April 5):

 Nashville Penalties Drawn Detroit Penalties Drawn
 Player Draws Fouls Pen +/-  Player Draws Fouls Pen +/-
 Jordin Tootoo 50 45 +5  Henrik Zetterberg 37 17 +20
 Martin Erat 25 24 +1  Pavel Datsyuk 30 9 +21
 Ryan Jones 24 10 +14  Marian Hossa 29 24 +5
 Dan Hamhuis 23 25 -2  Valtteri Filppula 29 16 +13
 Vern Fiddler 22 13 +9  Mikael Samuelsson 24 24 0
 Joel Ward 21 12 +9  Kirk Maltby 23 13 +10
Penalties Taken Penalties Taken
 Jordin Tootoo 50 45 +5  Marian Hossa 29 24 +5
 Ryan Suter 18 36 -18  Mikael Samuelsson 24 24 0
 Shea Weber 16 35 -19  Tomas Kopecky 21 23 -2
 Greg de Vries 15 24 -9  Niklas Kronwall 10 23 -13
 Dan Hamhuis 23 25 -2  Dan Cleary 20 22 -2
 Martin Erat 25 24 +1  Andreas Lilja 11 22 -11

Detroit has the 2nd-fewest PIM's in the NHL (behind Carolina), so don't expect much power play action from the Preds. Nashville has the 6th-fewest, and will need to maintain discipline to keep the top-notch Red Wings PP off the ice.

Helene St. James at the Detroit Free Press says the Detroit lines from the morning skate were as follows:

Holmstrom-Datsyuk-Hossa
Franzen-Zetterberg-Cleary
Hudler-Filppula-Samuelsson
Kopecky-Draper-Maltby
Lidstrom-Rafalski
Kronwall-Stuart
Ericsson-Lebda

And as to the goaltenders, GoaliePost.com says that the likely matchup is Rinne vs. Osgood...

Nashville


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Dan Ellis 35 1965 11 19 4 5 96 2.93 963 867 .900 3
2008 - Pekka Rinne 50 2876 28 14 4 6 110 2.29 1374 1264 .920 7


Detroit


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Ty Conklin 39 2186 25 10 2 3 91 2.50 1008 917 .910 6
2008 - Chris Osgood 44 2538 26 8 7 0 131 3.10 1160 1029 .887 2

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