Nov 26, 2011; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk (13) takes the puck up the boards against Nashville Predators right wing Martin Erat (10) during the second period at the Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE

Thin "Red" Line Between Winning and Losing

What have the Nashville Predators ever done to Pavel Datsyuk? I mean seriously his trademark deke (or better yet one of his many) forever known as the “Datsyuk” was on former Preds net minder Tomas Vokoun back in the 2005-2006 season. Last night he put a dagger through the Preds hearts scoring with under six seconds left in a tie game to increase the Red Wings NHL record home winning streak to 22 in addition to picking up a beautiful assist on Johan Franzen’s first period goal. Maybe it’s his jersey number, unlucky #13 (in a related story Nick Spaling also #13 scored the Preds lone goal), maybe he has a disdain for country music (I’m assuming Keith Urban and Taylor Swift don’t do too many shows in his native Russia), either way in playing his whole career in the Central Division Datsyuk has made the Predators his prey on countless occasions. It goes without saying that Datsyuk (along with many of his Detroit teammates) is one of the most skilled players in the league and keeping him under wraps should be the Predators top priority if these two teams run into each other in the postseason.

The acquisition of Hal Gill (who did not play against the Wings as he was acquired about 4 hours before puck drop) should help in that regard. While not having the best mobility Gill’s reach and fine defensive play should limit Datsyuk’s space and therefor his offensive creativity if the two teams faceoff in the postseason. Moving on, Pekka Rinne was clearly the better goalie as the Wings journeyman Joey MacDonald did not face the quality chances that Rinne was forced to stop shift after shift. While the Gill acquisition makes Rinne’s life a little easier he isn’t going to help the team offensively, if the team wants to make a playoff run the scoring has to be more consistent. Whether or not Poille is done dealing remains to be seen (Before anyone suggests Rick Nash or Zach Parise, it’s not happening) quality top 6 forwards are few and far between on this market (Possibly the best fit for the Preds Tuomo Ruutu is injured and therefore will not be moved by the Hurricanes) and will come at a premium. After giving up a first round pick last year for Mike Fisher and a second (along with midlevel prospect Blake Geoffrion) for Gill the Predators need to avoid giving up more high picks to avoid draining the organization long term. While it is apparent this is the team’s “all in” year long-term focus cannot be lost especially with the uncertainty surrounding Ryan Suter and Shea Weber’s future in the Music City.

The Predators have nothing to be upset about they were a bounce or two away from being in the NHL history books as the team that ended the juggernaut Red Wings’ home winning streak and still hold the #5 seed in the ever competitive Western Conference. That being said the team needs to be ready for a bounce back performance against Dallas tomorrow, the Stars much like the Preds are tough to play against and their skilled forwards (All Star Jamie Benn and seemingly Sports Center Top 10 regular puck magician Mike Ribeiro come to mind) can really make a team pay. Sunday will be Gill’s debut with the team and I’d look for him to play alongside Ryan Ellis as his size and veteran savvy complement Ellis’ puck moving skills and young legs.

For the video segment I’m including this piece on Detroit’s home winning streak, while it may be hard to stomach after such a tough loss the streak itself is remarkable. Granted with the modern system overtime and shootouts there is somewhat of an asterisk there but the streak is impressive nonetheless and warrants all the attention it has gotten.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Jq8eq_GAeg

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Tags: Detroit Red Wings Hal Gill Nashville Predators NHL Pavel Datsyuk

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