These two teams fall all over each other just about every time they meet. (PHOTO: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

Nashville Predators-Detroit Red Wings: Evolution Of A Rivalry

Former Nashville Predators forward Jordin Tootoo

Jordin Tootoo left the Nashville Predators for the frozen wastes of Detroit. (PHOTO: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

The Nashville Predators faced the Detroit Red Wings for the first time this season in their 4-3 overtime win on Tuesday, and I guess it was kind of cool to see Jordin Tootoo again (even if he is a splitter). While the rivalry between these two teams might have cooled a bit over the past couple of seasons as Detroit has slipped from its former powerhouse status, I think the Red Wings’ acquisition of Tootoo may have helped throw some more fuel on that fire. One thing is for certain, though: when the Preds and the Wings go toe-to-toe, there’s still a palpable magic in the air.

NHL rivalries are special. The tension they create is an important part of hockey culture as much for the fans as the players. When two teams develop a strong adversarial dislike for one another the energy level goes through the roof every time they meet. Players skate harder. They give the extra effort to finish their checks and battle for the puck.

That energy spills over into the crowd. It gives fans that much more to cheer or boo and makes trash-talking a premium in conversation. I personally have almost as much fun bad-mouthing Detroit to my friends (especially those who are Wings fans) as I do watching the games. I probably know what you’re thinking: friends… Detroit fans… hey, nobody’s perfect, right?

The rivalry may not have been as important to Detroit and their fans as it has been to Nashville, especially in the early days of the Predators franchise when the Bridgestone ran red with Motor City transplants every time the Wings were in town. The Red Wings were the class of the Central Division and as a young team the Preds had difficulty contending with them, losing to them 83.3 percent of the time in the both the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 seasons.

But since then, the Predators have come into their own and worked hard to beat Detroit. Nashville has seen a pretty steady decline in losses against Detroit over the years culminating in a 66.7 percent win rate in 2010-11 and 63.6 percent rate in 2011-12, including offseason bragging rights in last year’s first round elimination of the Red Wings. Here’s a look at how they’ve done at home against Detroit over the years, including playoff games:

Nashville Predators Record vs. Detroit (Home, incl. Playoffs)

Season

W-L-T

Win %

GFPG

GAPG

1998-99

1-2-0

33.3

2.7

4.0

1999-00

1-2-0

33.3

2.7

3.3

2000-01

1-0-1

75.0

3.0

2.5

2001-02

1-1-1

50.0

2.0

2.0

2002-03

1-1-0

50.0

2.5

2.5

2003-04

4-2-0

66.7

2.2

1.7

2005-06

1-3-0

25.0

2.8

3.3

2006-07

2-2-0

50.0

3.3

3.0

2007-08

4-3-0

57.1

2.7

2.9

2008-09

2-1-0

66.7

4.7

2.3

2009-10

1-2-0

33.3

1.7

1.7

2010-11

2-1-0

66.7

3.0

1.7

2011-12

4-2-0

66.7

2.5

2.5

2012-13

1-0-0

100.0

4

3

Judging by the numbers, we’ve seen the Predators improve at home against the Red Wings over the years. Tonight the Preds face Detroit again, this time on their home turf at Joe Louis Arena where they’ve also made a good deal of progress. Here’s how they’ve fared on the road against the Wings:

Nashville Predators Record vs. Detroit (Away, incl. Playoffs)

Season

W-L-T

Win %

GFPG

GAPG

1998-99

0-3-0

0.0

1.7

3.7

1999-00

0-3-0

0.0

2.3

4.7

2000-01

1-2-0

33.3

2.7

3.7

2001-02

0-1-1

0.0

3.0

4.5

2002-03

0-2-1

0.0

2.0

4.0

2003-04

1-5-0

16.7

1.5

3.5

2005-06

3-1-0

75.0

2.0

2.8

2006-07

0-4-0

0.0

2.0

4.0

2007-08

1-6-0

14.3

1.7

2.6

2008-09

2-1-0

66.7

3.3

4.0

2009-10

1-2-0

33.3

2.7

4.0

2010-11

2-1-0

66.7

3.0

2.7

2011-12

3-2-0

60.0

2.4

2.0

Nashville Predators versus Detroit Red Wings

This was the sight last time Detroit saw Nashville. (PHOTO: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports)

The Nashville Predators have had some pretty good performances in Detroit in the past few seasons, especially when compared to some of the team’s earlier showings. Hopefully, that will continue. This season the Wings seem to be plagued with injuries and perhaps less-than-stellar goaltending. (Ed.: the lack of Nicklas Lidstrom might have something to do with that.) I guess it’s a good thing they still have Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to stir things up at the other end of the ice; as the last meeting between these two teams proved, they are never to be underestimated.

Detroit had yesterday off and should be well-rested for tonight’s matchup. The Predators will be contending with fatigue after last night’s 1-0 loss at home against the Vancouver Canucks. It should be interesting to see how this game shapes up in Motown.

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Tags: Detroit Red Wings Nashville Predators

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