DETROIT RED WINGS
at NASHVILLE PREDATORS
April 14th, 2013
6:30 p.m. CDT
TV: NBC Sports Network
Season series tied 1-1
The Nashville Predators’ playoff hopes have already been extinguished, but the Detroit Red Wings are sitting in ninth place with seven games remaining. The Preds will be looking to play spoiler against the team they hate more than any other, not only for the sake of beating a rival but also to get the Filip Forsberg era off to a good start. The young Swedish forward was added to Nashville’s active roster yesterday in time for today’s game.
(15-19-8, 5th in Central)
The Preds have lost five games in a row and have gone just 2-6-2 in their last 10 games, worse than any other team in the league save the Carolina Hurricanes over that stretch. The departure of Martin Erat and injuries of Colin Wilson, Gabriel Bourque, Paul Gaustad, and Mike Fisher have proven to be difficult for Nashville to overcome.
If Nashville wants to play spoiler to the Red Wings, it’s going to have to come on the back of Pekka Rinne (14-14-7, 2.29 GAA, .916 SV%). He might have posted worse numbers this season than we’re used to seeing from him, but there are plenty of winning teams whose starters have similar numbers. The biggest difference between Pekka and those goalies is that they get goal support. Perhaps he can find his “flawless” gear after a rare day off following Chris Mason‘s start on Friday.
At the tail end of a lost season, Filip Forsberg becomes a key player despite his lack of NHL experience. Nashville coach Barry Trotz said yesterday that he wants to put Forsberg in spots where he can show off what he’s capable of. Power play time is in this young man’s future. So what can you expect from him style-wise? He’s previously drawn some comparisons to Corey Perry, and Nashville’s chief amateur scout Jeff Kealty told the Tennessean that he’s in the same mold as Bill Guerin.
Others to watch
Roman Josi (5G-12A) picked up an assist in the game against Dallas the other night, giving him one more point in 42 games than he had in all 52 games in his NHL debut season.
Taylor Beck (3G-4A) scored an effort goal in that game, breaking a streak of four games without a point after posting six in his first eight NHL games.
DETROIT RED WINGS
(19-15-7, 3rd in Central)
The Red Wings are one of three teams in the Western Conference with 45 points right now, but they’ve won fewer games in regulation and overtime than the Dallas Stars and that leaves them in ninth place. Detroit needs every point it can get right now, especially after having lost two consecutive games in shootouts, if it wants to make the playoffs for the 22nd straight season.
Pavel Datsyuk (13G-26A) is Detroit’s leading scorer this season. He abuses essentially every team he plays against, but he seems to save his best moves for Nashville.
The Red Wings ride Jimmy Howard (16-12-6, 2.37, .918) just as hard as Nashville does Rinne. He’s been playing well of late but has lost two straight shootouts despite stopping 58 of 62 shots faced in those games. Beating him is going to be a tough task as he tries to drag his team into the playoffs.
Others to watch
Blueliner Niklas Kronwall (5G-21A, 40 PIM) gets it done on the offensive end and hits harder than just about anybody in the NHL. Hopefully he won’t find an opportunity to staple Filip Forsberg to the wall.
Johan Franzen (8G-16A) has six points in the last five games. (Also, TSN analyst Craig Button compared Filip Forsberg’s game to him.)
Filip Forsberg’s North American debut will come on the NBC Sports Network and against the Detroit Red Wings. That’s a big deal for the Nashville Predators and the team will be hoping to pull off a big win against Detroit. But the Wings are fighting to stay alive, just like Dallas was a few nights back, and they have a lot more talent on the ice than the depleted Preds. Short of some debut magic from young Mr. Forsberg, I expect Detroit will take this one.