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The Nashville Predators have done this to themselves. They've played poorly over extended stretches, and backed themselves into a corner. The Predators are now in a position where each loss brings them much closer to elimination from playoff contention, and by far the biggest game of the season to date looms against their biggest rivals, the Detroit Red Wings.
And really, would you have it any other way? As Predators fans, this is what we've come to know. The end of the regular season means proving yourself as a team, not an individual, and, by and large, Nashville has done so admirably - in the regular season.
This, though, can almost not be considered the regular season. Even the captain, Shea Weber, is weeks into a playoff beard that he has stated won't be gone until Nashville is eliminated. This was supposed to be a defining, progressive season for the Predators, and instead it's turned into another nailbiter. A loss tonight against a team Nashville has beaten three times in a row will send this train further towards a destination where nothing good awaits.
Forget the thrilling win over Boston. Tonight, there is no try; only do. Tonight, we may well find out what the Nashville Predators are made of.
For us, the fans, head coach Barry Trotz has a call to action (from Thursday's presser):
"You talk about inspiring, the crowd was fantastic, especially in the third when we were running a little bit on fumes and getting a little bit discouraged. They were fantastic. We're going to need them Saturday night, we're going to need them right to the bitter end."
Lineups after the jump.
Tonight's projected lineup:
#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators
Nov 03, 1982
|2010 - Pekka Rinne||54||3188||26||20||112||2.11||1570||1458||.929||6|
Kostitsyn - Fisher - Wilson
Hornqvist - Legwand - Erat (A)
Tootoo - Smithson - Spaling
Dumont - Geoffrion - Halischuk
Suter (A) - Weber (C)
Klein - Blum
O'Brien - Franson
#35 / Goalie / Detroit Red Wings
Mar 26, 1984
|2010 - Jimmy Howard||54||3116||34||13||143||2.75||1567||1424||.909||2|
Franzen - Datsyuk - Holmstrom
Cleary - Zetterberg - Bertuzzi
Filppula - Modano - Eaves
Draper - Helm - Miller
Lidstrom - Ericsson
Stuart - Kronwall
Kindl - Rafalski