Saturday, April 3, 2010

Preview: Wings VS Predators

"Obviously we play Nashville our next game and that's a big game for us. We'd like to be in a position to go past them if we could." - Coach Mike Babcock

Detroit (42-23-13) VS Nashville (45-28-6)

Tonight the Red Wings look to trip up the Nashville Predators and leapfrog Nashville for sole possession of 5th seed in the Western Conference. With two games in hand, a win tonight for Detroit means more than an 8-game winning streak, it means the Wings will have a good grip on the last good position in the conference, dodging the top 3 seeds in the West and, most likely, play Phoenix in the first round of the post-season.

Let's take a look at 'The Geek's Winning Formula'!!

1.) Continue to Handle Hornqvist - Patric Hornqvist has been a black ace for the Preds all season long. With 51 points on the season so far, he's been good for production in the Music City. But Detroit has done with him as they do with top forwards: keep him quiet. Hornqvist has not registered a point against the Red Wings this season, and if the Wings keep it that way, it's going to keep the Nashville offense much more subdued. Not to say the Predators don't have other offensive talent, but when you shut down a team's leader in goals, points and +/-, it hurts.

2.) Eyes on the Prize - This is another one of those games where Detroit should not have to look far for motivation to crush their opponents tonight. 5th spot is staring the Wings in the face, and if they want it bad enough tonight, they will take it. We need another full 60-minute game from the Red Wings tonight, and if they're willing to commit to that plan, we should see Detroit move up a seed at the end of the evening. Bring guys to the net, make life miserable for Rinne/Ellis, and tire out Nashville. Considering the last meeting between these two, it's likely we'll see Rinne again for the Preds. Hopefully Detroit can muster some better pressure against the kid tonight and get an early lead to play with.

3.) Watch the Penalties!! - If the game tonight turns into a low-scoring affair, which is possible considering the last meeting, powerplays will be crucial. The Wings nearly dropped the ball on Thursday when Patrick Eaves took a late penalty and gave the Bluejackets a 6 on 4 man-advantage, leading to Columbus cutting the lead to 3-2. Luckily for the Red Wings, the Jackets did not get another goal to tie, but with the time remaining, they certainly had a chance. Detroit needs to be much more mindful of taking penalties and be a little more disciplined so as not to take a bad call late in a period to allow Nashville a boost of momentum. There's too much riding on this game to get lazy and grab/hook/trip someone up when a few extra strides would work better and not cause a penalty.

With five games left, this is undoubtedly one of Detroit's biggest games as far as positioning goes. I'm of the belief that Detroit, playing as they are, could top any team right now, but obviously a favorable matchup in the first round is best: let the top three teams deal with the most hungry bottom-feeders first, then swoop in for the kill in the later rounds. It's gonna be an interesting post-season, Wingnuts, but we still have some regular season hockey left to play!! I'm working today, so I won't be able to catch much of the game since it's a matinee, but I'm hoping to see good results anyway!! Let's Go Red Wings!!!