TCL Round 1 Staff Predictions: Nashville Predators vs Detroit Red Wings

( 4 ) NASHVILLE PREDATORS vs. ( 5 ) DETROIT RED WINGS

The pundits are out and predicting doomsday for the Detroit Red Wings and a much better fortune for the up and coming Nashville Predators. Detroit has knocked off the Preds in the only two meetings in the playoffs between the two clubs, both in six games in 2004 and 2008. The Central Division foes split the season series at three games a piece. That sets the tone for what can most likely be the most exciting series of the first round.

There should be plenty of saves and a ton of skill when the Wings and Preds meet tonight in Game 1 at Bridgestone Arena. The Wings have the experience, the Preds have the youth. Which will prevail?

Consensus: Predators in 6

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Schedule:
Game 1: Wed. April 11 at 8PM in Nashville
Game 2: Fri. April 13 at 7:30PM in Nashville
Game 3: Sun. April 15 at NOON in Detroit
Game 4: Tue. April 17 at 7:30PM in Detroit
Game 5: Fri. April 20 at 8PM in Nashville (if necessary)
Game 6: Sun. April 22 at TBD in Detroit (if necessary)
Game 7: Tue. April 24 at TBD in Nashville (if necessary)
*All Puckdrops are inEastern Standard Time*
 
Genius or Madness: Mark Trible - Wings in 7

What a terrific series this will be for any hockey fan to watch. Nashville's defensive depth and the Rinne's spectacular play have fueled them all season. It seems as if the stars are aligning for the Preds, but picking against Detroit in the first round seems stupid.

Previous Series: Two - 2004 and 2008. Both times the Red Wings won in six games.

Blogger Showdown: Kyle Busch and the rest of The Checking Line - Red Wings Edition team vs. Greg Duley

Related Posts:
-Underdogs? Not Really by Kyle Busch
-First Round Preview by TCL Red Wings staff

-Game One Preview by Kyle Busch

Key Players:
Nashville: 
-F Martin Erat 71GP 19G 39A 59PTS +12 107 shots;
-F Mike Fisher 72GP 24G 27A 51PTS +11 157 shots;
-D Shea Weber 78GP 19G 30A 49PTS +11 230 shots;
-D Ryan Suter 79GP 7G 39A 46PTS +15 134 shots;

-G Pekka Rinne 73GP 2.39GAA .923SVP 5SO 43-18-13

Detroit:
-F Pavel Datsyuk 70GP 19G 48A 67PTS +21 164 shots;
-F Henrik Zetterberg 82GP 22G 47A 69PTS +14 267 shots;
-F Valtteri Filppula 81GP 23G 43A 66PTS +18 144 shots;
-D Nicklas Lidstrom 70GP 11G 23A 34PTS +21 148 shots; 

-G Jimmy Howard 57GP 2.13GAA .920SVP 6SO 35-17-10

Key Injuries:
Nashville: Anders Lindbach (upper body, DTD), Hal Gill (foot, questionable), Brandon Yip (upper body, DTD)

Detroit: Darren Helm (Knee, DTD), Todd Bertuzzi (groin, DTD), Dan Cleary (knee, DTD), Patrick Eaves (concussion, done), Joey MacDonald (back, doubtful)

Prax's Take:
The stars seemed to have been aligning for the Nashville Predators this season. They were having a spectacular year, their players were playing above expectations and they even acquired a few players with something to prove (mostly from the Montreal Canadiens). Then, they drew the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs. But I'm not entirely sure what to make of this match-up. On paper, the Wings should have a definite advantage, but in reality, and if you've followed our coverage here at TCL, they've been painstakingly bad in a lot of games, especially by their standards, and especially after setting that homestand wins record.. So it's very hard to predict which Red Wings team shows up to Gaylord Entertainment Center or whatever they call it now on Wednesday night. I thought this was "the year" for both these teams, so if I have to choose one this early, I'm going to go with the Preds. They've earned it.
Prediction: Preds in 6
 
 
Kyle Busch:
Call me a Debbie Downer, but the Red Wings don't have it this year. I'll give them a clean slate because it's the playoffs, but any indication of how they've been playing recently is not a good sign. Both teams are well matched, but Nashville is a grind it out team that can score, and if they keep Detroit to the outside, the series will be done quick. Detroit needs to get one or both games in Nashville to start the series to have a chance.
Prediction: Preds in 6
 
Rachel Bellono:
I do not see the Wings winning more than one or two games, tops. They have been inconsistent since before the injury plague hit. Worse, the Predators are starting at home. Detroit has ben rocky on the road all season. Pekka Rinne is always rock solid, but it seems like he has more drive to play better against the Wings. He pulls off some epic saves, almost like the ones Howard used to make before his finger injury. Unfortunately, the Wings are not the same team they were when going through their home winning streak and that will hurt them in the playoffs
Prediction: Preds in 6
 
Eric Huffman:
The statistics over the season show that this won't be an easy series by any means, but another stat to look at is the fact that these teams split in the regular season. The Red Wings road performance was definitely their big weakness this season, but I expect the Wings to steal one in early in Nashville and then follow up by going back and forth with the Preds until game 7. Does this series see some breakout performances from younger guys like Nyquist, Sheahan or Smith? I doubt it. Will the series see clutch performances from guys who normally deliver when they need to? Absolutely! Going back to the plague of injuries that really took the Wings' season in a less than favorable direction, it was mentioned how important those players were going to be in the postseason. It came at a cost of a mediocre display to end the regular season, but for the guys on this team who have that experience, I believe this will be their moment to shine. People love to talk about the weapons that Nashville has in Rinne, Suter, Weber and Hornqvist, but it's also important to look at the weapons Detroit has in Datsyuk, Franzen, Zetterberg and Lidstrom. This isn't a great team going against an average team. These are two great teams that thrive under competitive spirit, and who are sure to deliver a great playoff series.
Prediction: Wings in 7
 
A.K Bennett:
Detroit hasn't won on the road in regulation against a team with a winning record since defeating Nashville on Dec. 26th. Nashville has won the three most recent meetings between them and Detroit and is much stronger with the late additions of Gaustad, Gill, Radulov and Kostitsyn. Detroit is struggling to put forth a consistently strong offensive effort, particularly on the power play and this will probably continue against a deep Nashville blue line and Pekka Rinne. The Red Wings should be able to win two home games or one at home and one on the road but given their play of late I don't see them flipping a switch and being able to dominate Nashville as they have in past playoff series. The Red Wings' significant edge in experience and ability to mount comebacks will make this a difficult series for the Predators but Nashville is hungrier, grittier and more balanced than the Red Wings. 
Prediction: Preds in 6
 
Robert D'Aurelio:
The Detroit Red Wings didn't do themselves many favours over the past three weeks of the regular reason. They failed to win very winnable games. They've now finished in 5th place in the Western Conference two of the past three post seasons. They've made it even harder on themselves starting their playoff run against the Nashville Predators on the road. Had they won their last game against Chicago, they would have had a chance to start this series at The Joe. This very small difference could have a very large impact on the outcome of this series. I'm going with go with the theme of the Red Wings not making things easy on themselves. In the end, veteran presence will prevail. It'll come at a price however, which will be a grueling seven game series ending in a Detroit victory.
Prediction: Wings in 7
 
Paul Kendall:
Even though they haven't played well lately, the Wings will turn up the heat and start playing like the team they were before all of the injuries.
Prediction: Wings in 7
 
Around The Checking Line:
 
Derrick Newman:
The Preds are the team to beat in the west this year. With Rinne in net, Weber and Suter on the blue line and a group of forwards that arent flashy but as an group, very good, I think the Preds could go all the way this year. David Poile has assembled a great team in music city and with the addition of Radulov it might just put them over the top.
Prediction: Preds in 6
 
Nick Symon:
Heading down the stretch, it was all about who secured home-ice in this series. The Preds did that and I think that will give them the upper hand in this ultra-competitive four-five match-up. Alexander Radulov will have to prove he was worth bringing back from Russia but with Pekka Rinne in net and Weber and Suter on the back-end the Predators could be a dark-horse in the West. Never look past the Red Wings, as this series is a tough one to predict.
Prediction: Preds in 7
 
Evan Pivnick:
The Preds are going to be unstoppable in the playoffs this year. Goaltending is outstanding, offense is outstanding, and so is their defense. The Red Wings this year just aren't the team of the past, too many flaws.
Prediction: Preds in 5
 
John Link:
The Red Wings and Stanley Cup Playoffs are always together so it is no surprise to see them in the tournament again. The Predators however have gone all in as a team in order to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup this season. Nashville is strong at almost all positions on the ice and seems unstoppable heading into the Playoffs. Detroit puts up a good fight in this one but Nashville is just too strong to be stopped at this point in the playoffs.
Prediction: Preds in 6
 
Conor Hassard:
David Poile’s moves just prior to the deadline showed the Predators were going all-in for this season, and they have a great chance at doing that. With Weber and Suter playing in front of Pekka Rinne, the Preds’ play in their own zone is exceptionally great. With Alexander Radulov back from Russia, their offense has improved and looks very good. The Red Wings always show up in the playoffs though and will give the Predators a test.
Prediction: Preds in 6
 
Bryan Wright:
It's the 4-5 series, and is nearly impossible to predict; the two teams are usually so even. However, I'll give the edge to Detroit because the have Nick Lidstrom. He's good.
Prediction: Wings in 6
 
Matt Cefalu: 
This will finally be the year Nashville moves on to round two. The Red Wings will put up a fight and force game seven, but their age will catch up with them and injuries will inevitably be their down fall this post-season. If Nicklas Lidstrom were just a year or two younger, he would be the game-breaker that would push them into round two, but his tank is quickly running dry. Nashville is still the solid defensive, good fore-checking team they were last year, but they have added size and scoring punch to their lineup at just the right time. Alex Radulov won’t be the league MVP, but he will be a difference maker in round one. Weber, Suter and Gaustad will effectively contain Zetterberg and Datsyuk.
Prediction: Preds in 6
 
Adam Pardes:
The Predators are good. Like really, really good. And after last season, most of their roster now can boast some serious playoff experience coming into this series. That said, I refuse to look down on a struggling Red Wings club. Their play hasn't been pretty of late, but I'll be damned if there's not a single team more capable of pulling of the upset. Difference makers? Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber.
Prediction: Preds in 7
 
Chuck Gaston:
Detroit just cannot break that defense or netminding here in Nashville and without a productive Holmstrom, I don't see them winning a single game outside of the Joe. Look for Shea Weber to establish his presence early in this series.
Prediction: Preds in 6
 
George Royle:
I am really looking forward to this series. A stuttered end to the season for the Wings meant they had to take on Nashville rather than a weaker Pacific Division team. Pekka Rinne is the key man in this series; if he performs, the Preds advance. I am going brave and going with Nashville.
Prediction: Preds in 7
 
Ty Fisher:
Take a minute and just think about the fact that the Detroit Red Wings, who are entering the postseason for the 21st time in a row, are underdogs in the quarterfinals. It's absurd on the surface and yet, Nashville is just better. Credit Nashville's front office for quietly building a contender the last few years before going all in the season with some nice trade deadline acquisitions. Expect a defensive coming out party from Shea Weber and Ryan Sutter before they embark on free agency, as well as a dominant performance from Pekka Rinne. These two teams know each other so well, it's harder to imagine this thing being wrapped up in anything less than seven--although it's not a stretch to declare that Detroit will give Nashville fits along the way.
Prediction: Preds in 7
 
Andy Veilleux:
Wings are deep and laden with veterans. That is a blessing and a curse. They have an aged roster, and players like Franzen can conquer a game at will when he is on, but they don't skate as briskly and smooth as they used to. Their goaltending is still just decent, while the Preds have one of the top five goalies in the world. The Preds added just the right amount of pieces they needed to keep the locker room together, but fill their gaps.
Prediction: Preds in 6

5 Comments

George Prax's picture

Again, I picked the consensus team, but it's a little shocking almost no one picked the Wings, despite their late-season troubles. Still one hell of a team.

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

I wouldn't count them out. They're depth looks better than Nashville's. Just because Nashville splurged at the deadline doesn't mean they have a better chance at winning. I think some people think because of those moves it puts them over the top; but Paul Gaustad is a fourth line center, Hal Gill is a bit overrated in my opinion and the Kostitsyn's can be easily contained.

George Prax's picture

Gaustad is an excellent 4th line center. He played like 60% of his minutes on the PK and scored a goal, 60% on faceoffs.

Hal Gill is anything BUT overrated, especially in the playoffs. Obviously he missed game 1 but you'll see his impact when he plays.

Kostitsyn is a role player and a big body. When he's on his game it's actually pretty difficult to contain him.

The reason people praise their moves is because they didn't hurt their core. All the players you mentioned are depth players who are excellent at what they do. And I definitely think you're underrating them now, as much as I think the Wings somehow because the underdogs in this series it's still Nashville's series to lose. But they have to win at Joe Louis, which is something I completely forgot to factor in to my prediction.

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

I think I'm a little biased towards Gill because my dad really doesn't like him lol. Gaustad is good at draws, I would have loved him on Detroit, but what I meant is that those little moves shouldn't be over analyzed to the point where they make people think Nashville will win for sure

George Prax's picture

I actually think it's the little moves that makes a champion. But like I said I think the reason everyone is picking Nashville is more because they need it, and Detroit doesn't.