The Predators managed to put together a tremendous win against the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night and now they’re looking to put another winning streak together. The next team on their conquest: the Detroit Red Wings.
The last meeting between these two took place in Detroit back in October and would become one of the more bizarre stories to come out of the league this season: Soup-gate.
The first game of a back to back for Nashville that ended in a 5-3 win for the Wings, and half of the Predators succumbing to a nasty case of food poisoning. They didn’t even make it through the game before guys were going down. Half of Milwaukee had to be recalled on emergency conditions for game the next day.
Peter Laviolette this AM after answering food poisoning questions: "Nobody wants to talk hockey? Just want to talk throw-up and diarrhea?"— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) October 22, 2016
Nothing like a bad case of food poisoning to re-hash old rivalries.
The Detroit Red Wings
Despite an impressive winning streak in October the Wings have seen minimal success this season. Losing streaks with the occasional win have become their norm. Coming off of a win against the New York Islanders Friday night they’re 4-3-3 in their last ten outings and currently sitting dead-last in the Atlantic and 26th in the league.
Thomas Vanek, Tomas Tatar, and Dylan Larkin are leading their team in goals, tied at 12 a piece, while Henrik Zetterberg leads in points with 35. While being plagued with long-term injuries including goaltender Jimmy Howard, Detroit hasn’t had much going for them this season. The strategy of just trying not to lose too many in a row has many speculating it’s time for a major sell and rebuild in the Motor City.
While trade rumors are running a muck around the league right now and many teams have started making moves, Detroit won’t get anything done before their meeting with the Predators and they’ll need the best of their blue-line to push back against Nashville’s emerging offense.
Mike Green is currently fronting that defense. While his prime was spent with the Washington Capitals and he had some incredible seasons there, Green is not a player who seems likely to return to his Norris Trophy nominated performances of the past. While only earning 35 points for Detroit last year, he’s still managing to average over 24 minutes of ice time per game. He leads the defense in goals with 9 while the rest of the core has two goals or less on the season.
While Jimmy Howard might have the highest save percentage in the league, he’s been out with injury since the end of December, preserving his .934 SV% until his return. Howard’s absence leaves most of the netminding work to Petr Mrazek who has a .894 SV% and a 3.16 GAA.
Needless to say Detroit probably won’t be extending their playoff run to a 26th consecutive season.
The Nashville Predators
Just when you thought Nashville was ready to settle down and keep their name out of the rumor mills the internet has exploded with speculations of Matt Duchene finally becoming a Predator. A rumor fueled even more by Mike Ribeiro requesting a trade and then being put on waivers Friday morning. While Ribeiro’s fate won’t be determined until Saturday, it’s likely the end of his time as a Predator.
Many think this leaves a 2C spot open for the likes of Duchene or someone like him, but despite all of David Poile’s Jedi mind-tricks, he’s not going to make that happen overnight. However that still leaves Nashville with Ryan Johansen, Mike Fisher, Callie Jarnkrok, and Colton Sissons. A hand-full of guys who have done alright for themselves this season.
Pairing Johansen with Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson on the top line resulted in pure magic Thursday night.
And this gem.
With that kind of confidence and how well the Predators finally seem to be meshing together, it’s hard to imagine much will change with Coach Peter Laviolette’s current line-up. Signs have also been pointing towards Roman Josi’s return. Ribeiro’s spot would go towards activating Josi from IR. That’s not to say the Duchene dream is dead, but it’s just dead for now? Maybe? Who knows! It’s Poile’s world and we’re just living in it.
Finally, Pekka Rinne. Wow was he great Thursday night. While everyone has those teams they just thrive against, Rinne looked to be in prime Finnish form. If getting rest from Juuse Saros is all it takes for Rinne to keep that up I’m just sad Nashville didn’t do it sooner.
Reasons to Watch
- That Forsberg-Arvy-RyJo line is really really ridiculously good looking. Zoolander 3 contracts coming soon probably.
- James Neal - Hateful goals followed by a streak of quietness for Neal usually end in more hateful goals. It’s time. Let the hate flow Neal, let it flow.
- Wilson/Smith sightings. It’s like spotting big foot on a camping trip. Except it’s time for big foot to stop being so aloof.
The Important Details
7:00 PM puck drop at Bridgestone Arena. TV: FS-TN, Radio: 102.5 The Game