After an up and down season, the Detroit Red Wings finally know who they will be facing in the first round of the NHL Playoffs. The Nashville Predators welcome the Red Wings to the Music City, and believe me, both teams are built for long runs. After an entire 82 game season, the Wings take a modest 4-4-2 record into the playoffs over their last ten games, while the Predators take a 6-4-0 record into the postseason over the same span. The Preds won their last three, while the Wings lost their last game to the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime. Are the Wings fluttering? Are they just too old? Are the Preds just THAT good? What does it all mean?
Well, I think its somewhere in between. I think the Wings have really been struggling because of injury. Getting Nicklas Lidstrom, Jonathan Ericsson, Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard back really helps the process of becoming a dominant team again, a team that once won 23 straight home games. I also believe that with age comes experience and the Red Wings certainly have lots of that. Having a cast of “old” players and young talent is a recipe for success, again, something the Wings have had a lot of. But still, are the Preds just THAT good?
Simply put, yes, and it starts and ends with Pekka Rinne. He has been absolutely dominant this season. Rinne is first in the league in games played with 73, wins with 43, and saves with 1,987. He is fourth in the league in goals against with 166 and is seventh in the league posting a .923 save percentage. Not to mention the moves they made at the trade deadline acquiring Andrei Kostitsyn, Hal Gill and Paul Gaustad. Oh, also getting Alexander Radulov back from the KHL in Russia was absolutely huge for the Preds.
For the Wings, their best players have to play their best. I know that’s fairly obvious, but it’s true. If Johan Franzen can catch fire and Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterburg play at the level they’re capable of, than I think it really gives them a chance to win the series. Also, Jimmy howard MUST be the netminder he was before he broke his finger and pulled his groin, and not the goalie he’s been post injuries. Since aggravating his groin back on March 4th against the Blackhawks, Howard is 2-4-2. That’s just not going to cut it when your counterpart in this series is basically a lock for the Vezina, and should be in contention for the Hart Trophy.
So, with all of the parity in the NHL, and only two points separating the two teams, I think the Wings-Preds series is going to be a really fun watch. In a previous article, I told you the Wings were going to win it all. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to be a much tougher road than expected. However, the Detroit Red Wings win four very tight games to advance to the next round. Start the nail biting: Wings in 7. Yikes.