On a Nashville Power Play
One of the scarier weapons in the league is Shea’s shot. And while teams have found ways to get in front of it, Weber has found passing lanes for his compatriots who are moving more than in recent years, and the puck has found the net. After adding Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov, the power play now has a couple extra triggermen. Detroit has a very pedestrian penalty kill, only turning away 81.8% of penalties, and tied for the lowest amount of short handed goals. Their penalty kill is smart, but not overly aggressive. Nashville doesn’t draw penalties as much as other teams, consistently in the lower part of the NHL standings in total power play opportunities.
In the end, it will come down to solving Jimmy Howard. He will need to be put into motion, and be caught over-committing due to some smooth passing. Patric Hornqvist will need to be at his best, and with him being slotted down to the third line while even strength, he should have plenty of juice to be a pest on the power play.
Verdict- Nashville. It’s not a question of if it will or won’t work, it’s a question of how many times we see it
Without a doubt, Detroit has the better top end forwards (Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen). Beyond that, Nashville has just about every advantage. Is Niklas Lidstrom better than Shea Weber or Ryan Suter? Is Ian White better than either of Suter or Weber? No. Jimmy Howard is a very good goaltender, but can he steal a series like Rinne could? Rinne’s style gets in team’s heads, and his last two performances against Detroit further bolster that factor. He’s a battler, and that save on Zetterberg will be remembered for a while. The special teams are in Nashville’s favor, and if you haven’t had someone tell you that Nashville has home-ice advantage, they do. And the Wings were not even “good” on the road this year. They were average.
One thing Nashville must do is score first. When they do, the Preds are the second best in the league at holding that advantage.
The rumor of referees “swallowing their whistles” isn’t exactly true. In the last 5 minutes of a close game? Yes, you have to commit murder to visit the box. But on average, more penalties are called in the playoffs. The question that will determine the series will be : Can Nashville’s power play still get the job done against Detroit? If Nashville gets on the board first, they’ve proven to be the best in the West at cashing that in for a victory. There are more ways for Nashville to score.
If this series happened before the deadline, Detroit would take this in 6. But after 20 games, Nashville looks to be the better team. Datsyuk and Zetterberg will cause some problems, but not enough to overturn the balance in the series.
NASHVILLE IN FIVE.
And boycott Little Caesar’s until the series ends.