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Detroit Red Wings vs. Nashville Predators Preview: Long Way to Go

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The struggling Predators look to get back on track against a weak Detroit team.

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Nashville Predators Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Nashville Predators (33-20-5) play host to the struggling Detroit Red Wings (21-28-7). Coming off the back of two consecutive losses against the St. Louis Blues, the Predators should be thankful for the opportunity to reset against a weaker opponent at home.

Detroit continues to pay for the sins of making the playoffs for over 25 years in a row, sitting at 7th in the Atlantic Division and 15th in the Eastern Conference. If there was ever a team for the Predators to rebound against, this would be the opponent.

The Detroit Red Wings

At their last game against the Chicago Blackhawks, scouts from numerous teams were in attendance, including a whopping three from the Predators. By all means, that is a large, excessive number unless the Predators are potentially targeting a Red Wing or Blackhawk this trade deadline.

Who could the Predators be targeting on the Red Wings? Well, Gustav Nyquist jumps right to mind. The Swedish winger has 47 points in 56 games for the struggling Red Wings and has proven playmaking ability. Another player who teams likely are targeting is Thomas Vanek to add scoring punch to their bottom-two forward lines. After the acquisitions of Brian Boyle and Cody McLeod, it seems unlikely that general manager David Poile would add further to the bottom of his roster.

Therefore, keep an eye out on Gustav Nyquist tonight. Considering the price tags of Mark Stone and Artemi Panarin, Nyquist’s cost may be easier for Poile to swallow.

The Nashville Predators

Yes, the Predators do need more help before the trade deadline. Outside of the top line of Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, and Viktor Arvidsson, the Predators’ offense has been relatively non-existent. The second line of Kyle Turris, Kevin Fiala, and Craig Smith was finally reunited on Saturday after Turris played his first game back from injury on the third line. However, in their two games back with each other again, they have yet to find their rhythm.

Moreover, although Brian Boyle has been utilized on the power play as a net-front presence, the Predators are still last in the NHL with a 13.0 power play percent. In fact, the Predators went 0 for 5 on Sunday. While it’s nice to see the Predators not relying on a gimmicky, perfectly timed jump by Viktor Arvidsson to set a screen, the fact is that the Predators still rely on too many poor shots from outside prime scoring areas. They still need to find ways to penetrate the slot, but the Predators still seem content just shuffling the puck around the blue line.

One potential solution to their woes could be bringing in an outside source from their organization to adjust the power play, as the Columbus Blue Jackets recently did with Martin St. Louis. Behind the Predators’ power play at the start of January, the Blue Jackets’ power play has been revived and now is 21st overall and scoring consistently. The Predators certainly need fresh ideas, so following Columbus’ lead and looking outside could provide needed aid on the power play.

Reasons to Watch

  1. Watch Gustav Nyquist closely. He could wear gold before you know it.
  2. Ryan Johansen is on a tear right now, and watching an emotional, amped up Johansen is always a treat.
  3. Viktor Arvidsson is scoring at will these days, scoring 16 goals in his last 19 games played. If you enjoy Arvidsson—and honestly who doesn’t—you’ll probably enjoy watching this game.

Pregame Meal

I’ll be cooking some quick pesto pasta before ducking out of the law library and downtown for the Washington-Columbus game.

Sights and Sounds

The game is at 7:00 CT at Bridgestone Arena. Fox Sports South will televise the game while 102.5 The Game will carry it on radio.