Tonight will be the last time the color gold enters Joe Louis Arena. The Nashville Predators (1-2-0) will take on the Detroit Red Wings (2-2-0) in a contest that will be featuring some old lines, as Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette turned the pages back yesterday and re-instated the same top two lines from last February-April. After the lackluster start to the season, perhaps these changes were warranted.
Meanwhile, the Detroit Red Wings have won two straight games and are playing much better hockey in their own end of the ice. After giving up ten goals in their first two games, they have tightened their play up and have only given up one each of their last two games. Considering the difficulty Nashville has encountered scoring at even strength, it will be imperative for the Predators to get onto the score sheet early in this contest.
The Detroit Red Wings
How drastically different can one’s results be over a four game stretch? After playing horrendous hockey in their first two games, the Red Wings have looked sharp over their last two games with a convincing 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators and a 2-1 win against the New York Rangers. The silver lining from Detroit’s first two games is that they played arguably two of the toughest teams in their division, namely the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers.
Considering the strength of their opponents in their wins and losses and it appears that Detroit is a team right in the middle of the pack. After playing Chicago and Dallas, the Predators should enjoy this match-up. As has been the status quo each of the last few seasons, many pundits are predicting the Red Wings to miss the playoffs for the first time in 25 years, passing the 1971-1994 Montreal Canadiens by one season for the longest such streak in NHL history. However, if there has been a team that finds a way to play their way into the postseason, it’s the Red Wings.
Henrik Zetterberg still captains the Red Wings, but the big story this season has been Thomas Vanek. After being bought out by the Minnesota Wild this off-season, Detroit decided to roll the dice and sign him. So far, it has looked like a terrific move for both sides. Vanek has three goals and three assists and has been playing stellar hockey. Defenseman Mike Green has also had a surprisingly strong start to the season, registering a hat trick in Detroit’s win over Ottawa.
Overall, the Detroit Red Wings have looked strong, but they also have the potential to regress to the level of play showcased in their first two games. Tonight will give a better indication of where this team is truly at.
The Nashville Predators
After two days off, the Predators are back in action after practicing with some new forward lines yesterday, although they may look familiar to those who followed the team last season. Kevin Fiala has been demoted from the first line to the fourth, opening a spot on the top line for Calle Jarnkrok. He joins Ryan Johansen and James Neal. The second line is the old standby of Filip Forsberg, Mike Ribero, and Craig Smith while Viktor Arvidsson, Mike Fisher, and Colin Wilson round out the third line.
The fourth line looks incredibly intriguing. It will be a combination of Cody Bass, Colton Sissons, and Kevin Fiala. While each of these players brings a lot of energy to the ice, Fiala has a very different style of play from Bass and Sissons. Some people may feel like having Fiala skate on the fourth line is a poor placement for the young Swiss forward, but time will tell. If there is an intriguing line for the Predators tonight, it will be their fourth line.
As of now it is unclear which goaltender will be starting between the pipes tomorrow against Detroit. Pekka Rinne looked sharp in the loss against Dallas on Tuesday, but with a big game looming tomorrow night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Peter Laviolette may instead opt to start Marek Mazanec against Detroit.
Reasons to Watch
- For all the bad memories that Predator fans may have of postseason games in the Joe Louis Arena, it is a very historic arena. With the Red Wings departing its doors at the end of the season, Madison Square Garden will be the only remnant from an era of hockey long departed. Barring a Stanley Cup Final against the Red Wings, it will be the last time the Predators play in Joe Louis Arena.
- Nashville’s juggling of lines will hopefully generate more success in full strength scenarios. Remember how fun last February was with Filip Forsberg and Craig Smith trading first-star performances each game? It was done with these lines.
Gameday Hockey Lingo Word of the Day
Bar Mexico [bahr mek-si-koh], adjective
Definition: When a player shoots the puck and it hits the top crossbar before going in. Any goal that goes bar Mexico is a pretty goal. Bonus points if it makes a beautiful “ping” sound off the bar.
Example: “The spin into that bar Mexico shot by Patrik Laine the other day was incredible!”
Origin: To be honest, I’m not really sure on this one. Sorry everyone, it’s just the way it is.
Synonyms: Bar down.
Sights and Sounds
The game will be televised on on FS-TN and the NHL Network. Alternatively, you can listen to it on 102.5 The Game. Puck drops at 6:30 pm.