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Red Wings @ Predators preview: Can the Preds rise to the challenge?

The Nashville Predators will put their recent success at Bridgestone Arena on the line tonight against their #1 rival, the Detroit Red Wings, who are making their first visit to Smashville this season. When the two teams met in Detroit last month, the Red Wings took a 4-1 decision. The Preds are playing pretty good hockey right now, but can they maintain that level of play, or step it up, against one of the top teams in the league?

Follow after the jump for the breakdown!

The Red Wings are coming! Use the OTF Discount to save on Preds tickets while there's still time!

Tale Of The Tape

Detroit (19-9-1) at Nashville (15-11-4)
DET Offense vs. NSH Defense NSH Offense vs. DET Defense
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
DET Offense 2.9 (3rd) 33.5 (1st) 8.7 (7th) 1.7 (2nd) 26.9 (3rd) 936 (5th) DET Defense
NSH Defense 2.3 (11th) 31.1 (25th) 925 (8th) 2.1 (24th) 26.0 (28th) 8.2 (17th) NSH Offense
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %
Special Teams
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
DET 5-on-4 6.8 (7th) 56.4 (4th) 12.1 (14th) 6.8 (20th) 50.8 (15th) 867 (23rd) DET 4-on-5
NSH 4-on-5 5.7 (15th) 51.7 (19th) 891 (13th) 7.1 (4th) 52.7 (11th) 13.6 (8th) NSH 5-on-4
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %

Hold on to your hats, folks, this will prove to be a real test for how well the Preds have been playing lately. The Red Wings are the 2nd-best 5-on-5 team in the NHL, a situation which governs over 75% of a typical game.

Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings are once again cruising along near the top of the Western Conference standings, but along the way they've gone on some noteworthy streaks. Check out the pattern their schedule has taken so far: won 5, lost 6, won 4, lost 2, won 7, lost 2, won 3 heading into tonight.

As always, there are any number of dangerous players to watch out for with Detroit, but this guy is the hottest of the bunch currently, with 7 goals and 13 assists in his last 13 games. He also boasts 54 points in 53 career games against the Preds:

Pavel Datsyuk

#13 / Center / Detroit Red Wings



Jul 20, 1978

2011 - Pavel Datsyuk 29 9 21 30 6 8 2 0 2 84 10.7

Winging It In Motown noted that the Wings have called up rookie Tomas Tatar for possible action (he's still not listed as being on the roster, however). He played 9 games with the Wings last season, and as a 2009 2nd-round draft pick, is projected to be yet another in a long line of talented forwards Detroit has cranked out over the years.

Nashville Predators

The Preds have built up a bit of momentum in recent games, controlling the flow of the game more consistently, and scoring at least 2 goals in 6 straight games. With Jonathon Blum and Blake Geoffrion dispatched to Milwaukee in recent days, the lineup appears pretty much set, although I expect we'll see Kyle Wilson dress tonight in favor of Brian McGrattan, as Detroit doesn't engage in the enforcer stuff.

If you're looking for someone who's had some good success against Detroit, Sergei Kostitsyn might be your guy. In 8 career games vs. the Red Wings, he has 4 goals and 3 assists, including one beautiful shorthanded strike: