We’re less than a week away from the trade deadline, and the Nashville Predators keep pushing towards claiming a playoff spot.
The Predators have enjoyed the rare two days off to prepare for another matchup with the last-place Detroit Red Wings. A team that’s clearly still rebuilding, but one that can help spoil the postseason plans for the Predators.
The season series sits at 4-2 in favor of the Predators, with the Predators giving up just one goal to Detroit over the last two meetings.
On Sunday night the Red Wings shockingly beat the Tampa Bay Lightning to the tune of a 5-1 final score, so the Predators obviously can’t ride into this game tonight on cruise control.
Nashville Predators continue to battle injuries
Like many other NHL teams at this point in the regular season, the Predators continue to deal with a rash of key injuries. Matt Duchene hasn’t played since March 4, Filip Forsberg hasn’t played since March 25, and of course Ryan Ellis has missed the majority of the season.
Viktor Arvidsson was the latest injury to be dealt to the Predators as he exited the game in the win over the Chicago Blackhawks over the weekend. He is traveling with the team to Detroit and is considered day-to-day:
What’s been so impressive about the run the Predators have made is they keep finding ways to win despite the key players missing and the offense being stuck in neutral.
The injuries don’t stop there for the Predators. They’re also missing defenseman Mark Borowiecki and Alexandre Carrier, leaving the door open for Jeremy Davies and possibly David Farrance to get into the starting lineup.
The youth movement keeps on rolling for the Nashville Predators.
Who’s standing out for the Predators
The Predators managed just 21 shots on goal in the win over Chicago, but still got three goals to go in thanks to an opportunistic power play and a penalty shot goal from Colton Sissons.
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Those good fortunes won’t last through these last 17 games if the Predators can’t figure out a way to muster up more shots on goal.
Eeli Tolvanen keeps producing, especially on the power play. He’s now up to six power play goals and ten total goals on the season after finding the back of the net on Saturday against the Blackhawks.
The Captain Roman Josi reached a new milestone by becoming the all-time leading point scorer in the NHL for his home country of Switzerland. An awesome achievement for him as he’s quietly having another impressive season with 18 assists and 22 points in 32 games.
The Predators are going up against a Red Wings team tonight that gives up over three goals per game, which is ninth-worst in the NHL.
On the other hand, the Predators have gotten stingier in the goals their surrendering thanks mostly to the stellar play of Juuse Saros in net. They’re giving up 2.90 goals per game, good for 17th in the NHL.
The last time these two teams met on March 25, the Predators stomped the Red Wings to the tune of seven goals, including a hat trick from Rocco Grimaldi in the span of 2:34 on the game clock in the first period.
Grimaldi would finish the game with four goals total, while the Predators would need Saros to just make 20 saves on 21 shots faced. I expect the Red Wings to bring a much more intensified effort tonight.
The Red Wings are led by their defense and playing a conservative style. They don’t take a lot of risks and make you take all of the risks to score goals.
The gameplan should be pretty simple to beat this Red Wings team. Don’t beat yourselves by going to the penalty box and playing their style of game. Be aggressive going in on the forecheck and force Detroit into giveaways in their neutral zone.
The Red Wings have been struggling in the goaltending department ever since they lost Johnathan Bernier to injury in mid-March. He was playing very well for them, but since then they’ve been relying on Thomas Griess (.895 save percentage) and Calvin Pickard (.879 save percentage).
You have to be careful and take teams seriously that are already out of the race and have nothing to play for. These teams can play more loose and not be pressured as much into making mistakes.
As long as the Predators avoid any lapses to open this game, they should be able to hopefully get another relatively comfortable win. However, it will all come down to not turning this into a battle of special teams.