Matchup: Detroit Red Wings vs. Nashville Predators
Venue: Bridgestone Arena; Nashville, TN
Time: 7:30 PM EST
Television: Detroit- FS-D; National- NBC Sports Network
If the NHL playoffs started today, the Detroit Red Wings (19-15-7, 45 points, 9th place Western Conference) would find themselves in a position they have not seen in over two decades. As they currently stand, the Red Wings are on the outside looking in at the playoff picture aided by a three game losing streak combined with the Dallas Stars five game winning streak. Every game is more critical now than ever and the Red Wings will try to halt their losing streak when they head to Nashville tonight to take on the Nashville Predators (15-19-8, 38 points, 13th place Western Conference).
Though the Red Wings have earned a point in the last two games, it has not been enough to keep their heads above water and they now find themselves in a three-way tie for eighth place, which they lose out on to Dallas with seven games remaining. They are currently mired in a three game losing streak and have lost six of their past eight overall (2-4-2). The biggest concern for the Red Wings over this stretch has been the offense. The Red Wings have scored only 13 goals in this current eight game stretch and have not scored more than three goals in a game since scoring five in a 5-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on March 22nd.
The Red Wings come into tonight's game off of another disappointing 3-2 shootout loss, this time to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks victory completed the season sweep over the Red Wings for the first time in 37 years. The Red Wings continue to be effective on the powerplay on the road, connecting on a powerplay in the second period. They are having trouble adding to those goals when they are playing at even strength. They fired 28 shots on Crawford, who earned the victory over the Red Wings for the fourth time this season. If the Red Wings can't break out of their scoring slump within the next couple games, it will be more than likely that they will be watching the playoffs from home for the first time in 21 years. The task of scoring goals does not get any easier with the goaltender they will be facing tonight.
A year after knocking the Red Wings out of the playoffs, the Nashville Predators are looking like they will be sitting at home this year when the playoffs roll around. They currently sit in 13th place in the Western Conference with 38 points and only six games remaining. The Predators are currently trying to endure their worst stretch of the season. They come into tonight's game as losers of five in a row and losers in eight of their past nine games overall (1-6-2). Like the Red Wings, the Predators have been having a great amount of trouble scoring goals on a consistent basis. They have only scored six goals total in their five game losing streak, and in their past 10 games have only scored 18 total goals. The Predators may no longer be playing for a playoff spot, but a rivalry has formed between the Red Wings and Predators and the Preds would love to help end the Red Wings record playoff streak.
The last time these two clubs met, the Red Wings shutout the Predators thanks to the strong goaltending of Jimmy Howard. In that game, Howard stopped 33 shots for his first shutout of the season and the Red Wings got goals from four different players en route to the 4-0 win. This game tonight will be the third meeting of the season between the two teams and the Red Wings will be aiming for the second win of the season series with one game left to play after tonight. The Predators won the first contest of the season 4-3 in overtime back on February 19th.
The Red Wings will turn once again to Jimmy Howard in net. It will be Howard's ninth consecutive start and with the Red Wings in a race for the last playoff spot, do not be surprised if he gets the rest of the starts down the stretch. The Predators are expected to counter with Pekka Rinne in net. Rinne is currently on a four game losing streak, and has won one game and lost one game against the Red Wings this season.
Players To Watch:
- Jimmy Howard earned the shutout the last time these two teams met and will be looking to extend his shutout streak against the Predators. The last game was Howard's only game against the Predators this season and in his career he owns a 6-5-1 record with a .916 save percentage and a 2.42 GAA in 13 games.
- Niklas Kronwall had three assists the last time the two teams met in the Red Wings 4-0 victory. In his career, Kronwall has accumulated 14 points (3 goals, 11 assists) in 41 games against the Predators.
- Pekka Rinne is usually one of the steadiest goalies in all of hockey. Though he has lost four games in a row, in those games he has given up a total of nine goals, good for a 2.25 GAA. Rinne gives his team a chance to win on a nightly basis and is usually very solid against the Red Wings. In his career, Rinne is 11-5-3 with a .932 save percentage, and a 2.26 GAA in 19 games against the Wings.
- Shea Weber continues to be one of the premier defensemen in the NHL. The thought was that he would struggle with the loss of his blue line partner Ryan Suter, but Weber currently leads the Predators in points (23) and assists (15). He is not far behind on the team lead in goals either. He currently has eight on the season and the team lead is eleven.
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