Skating in the Music City
Strap yourselves in, the Stanley Cup Playoffs start tonight! The Detroit Red Wings will take on the Predators in Nashville in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. This is the third time the two teams have met, with Detroit winning both series in six games (2004, 2008). We at TCL Red Wings are split down the middle when it comes to predicting a winner, but most experts are predicting a Predators series victory, making the Red Wings an underdog, something that they aren't used to being and something they might not be.
Tonight, two great young goaltenders will start in Jimmy Howard and Pekka Rinne. Rinne led the league in wins but his goals against average was higher than Howard's. Detroit will need a ton of shots and a lot of traffic to score on him. Crashing the net and scoring garbage goals are what the Wings need to do more of.
Darren Helm is still iffy for tonight's game, and most likely won't play. Dan Cleary said he will play even though his knee is only 50%, and Todd Bertuzzi is still day to day with a minor injury. Chris Conner will play if one of them can't. That also means Jan Mursak is a healthy scratch again, and Gustav Nyquist will be in the lineup to provide some spark.
Nashville only has a few ailing players; backup goalie Anders Lindbach, forward Brandon Yip and defenceman Hal Gill. All are expected to dress tonight.
The keys to victory for Detroit are very simple; make life miserable for Rinne, get a lot of shots and limit turnovers and penalties. Nashville's powerpaly is very potent, and Detroit's special team's have been in the bottom half all year. They might need to mix things up on their powerplay entries into the offensive zone to keep the Predator's mobile defence guessing.
The puck drops at 8:00 pm in Nashville. Be sure to tune into our live blog, where you can catch both the Wings-Preds game hosted by TCL Red Wings and also Game 1 of the Penguins and Flyers series, which starts at 7:30 pm. Hope to see you there!