Thursday’s loss was a disappointing one. The players were visibly frustrated with their play, and I don’t think anyone thought that they could play about 10 minutes out of the game and still win.
That loss put the Predators at 34-13-9 on the season. They still sit atop the Central Division, but Winnipeg and St. Louis continue to threaten.
Tonight, the Preds face an old foe, the Detroit Red Wings. There will be plenty of “Red-Wing” fans in the crowd, looking curiously like fans who are normally wearing Predators gold for 40 other home games. Hmmm...
The Nashville Predators
The Predators can view Thursday’s loss as a wake up call. There was plenty to be impressed with, including Pekka Rinne’s continued fantastic play, Viktor Arvidsson’s ironman body blocking shots, and Yannick Weber’s diving tally in the second period.
However, anyone can see that the team is frustrated. Rinne deserves his team playing better in front of him, and he’s not getting that right now. Kyle Turris was out with an illness Thursday, so let’s hope it’s not going around the locker room. All we need is another “Soup Game”. SANITIZE EVERYTHING!
Rinne is 10-1-2 in his last 13 games, and he’s chasing his 299th and 300th wins. Saros hasn’t played in a few games, and that’s generally concerning from a goaltender known to suffer from occasional rustiness when he’s been sitting for a while.
Ryan Johansen has looked better lately, too. Perhaps it’s the return of Filip Forsberg, but Johansen has been shooting the puck more and continuing his incredible passing since the Preds returned home.
It goes without saying that points are crucial at this point in the season. There’s very little room to give when it comes to maintaining the lead on the division. The Vegas Golden Knights have already passed the 80-point mark, and Nashville could be close behind.
Tuesady and Thursday attendees were witness to the “7th Man.” Even down late in the third (in both games), the fans gave the Predators a huge boost with their loud cheering and Smashville Standing O’s. That’s got to be encouraging for the guys down on the ice.
The Predators did not practice Friday. They likely reviewed tape and had a possible “coming to Jesus” meeting with Coach Laviolette. The Predators are not playing to their potential right now, and that’s frustrating for the coaches, the players, and the fans.
Also, congratulations to Scott Hartnell. He picked up his 700th career point against Calgary.
The Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are still in a rebuilding phase. They have a ridiculous number of players on huge contracts and very little cap room to sign/add new players to help the team.
Youngster Dylan Larkin leads the Wings in points with 43 points, followed by Henrik Zetterberg with 39 and Anthony Mantha with 34. Mike Green leads Detroit defensemen with 29 points (6 goals and 23 assists). He’s been noted as a potential trading piece for a team seeking a reliable defenseman for their playoff bid.
Actually, many Detroit players have been thrown around in trade talks recently. Aside from Green, Tomas Tatar and and Gustav Nyquist have also appeared in trade rumors. The Wings have incredible depth at the AHL level in the Grand Rapids Griffins, but their current team locks up nearly all their available funding.
Goaltenders Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard haven’t necessarily established themselves as “the guy” in net, but Howard has played 42 games to Mrazek’s 20. Howard has a .910 SVC and 2.83 GAA, and Mrazek has a .906 SVC and 2.99 GAA.
The Red Wings lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. They are 23-24-9 on the season.
Memories and Feelings
- Last year’s visit by the Red Wings was anything but fun. A powerful Predators team was stymied by Petr Mrazek and Detroit shut out the Predators.
- We may not see Detroit as often, but losses to this team are on the same level as losses to Chicago or Anaheim.
Reasons to Watch
- Saturday night hockey in Smashville: nothing better.
- The Predators need a big statement game tonight against the struggling Wings. A little confidence boost, eh?
Tonight’s Theme Song
“Wake Up Call” by Maroon Five.
How to Watch
Puck drop is at 7 pm tonight. Catch the broadcast on Fox Sports-TN or listen to the radio call on 102.5 The Game.