What: Detroit Red Wings at Nashville Predators
When: 8 p.m tonight
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
TV: Fox Sports Detroit
Records: The Red Wings are 7-6-2; the Predators are 7-4-5.
Coaches: Mike Babcock is 428-222-19-84 in his tenth season as a head coach, and 359-160-69 in his eighth season with the Red Wings. Barry Trotz is 510-428-60-84 in his 14th season as a head coach, all with Nashville.
Season Series: 3-3 split last season. Both teams met in the first round of the playoffs, with the Predators winning the series in five games.
Red Wings Update: The Red Wings are coming off of a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Sunday to continue a three game losing skid. Damien Brunner and Pavel Datsyuk each scored their team leading seventh goals. Henrik Zetterberg leads the wings in scoring with 20 points (5 goals, 15 assists). Babcock has done some line juggling, moving Valtteri Filppula onto the top line with Zetterberg and Brunner. Tomas Tatar will join Datsyuk and Mikael Samuelsson on the second line, while Danny Cleary will play on the third line with Joakim Andersson and Justin Abdelkader. The Wings will be without Johan Franzen (hip), Todd Bertuzzi (back), Darren Helm (back), Brendan Smith (shoulder), and Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder).
Predators Update: The Predators are coming off of a wild 6-5 loss to the Colorado Avalanche that was decided by a controversial goal scored on what should have been an offsides call. Despite the five-goal outburst, the Preds are not an offensive team, as they rank dead last in goals scored. Colin Wilson leads the team with 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists). Martin Erat is the only other player on the roster with double-digit points (10 points–3 goals, 7 assists), but he has been a thorn in the Red Wings' side with 33 career points against them. The Predators will be without rugged center Paul Gaustad (upper body) tonight.
PLAYER POSITION MATCHUPS
Centers: With no Gaustad in the lineup, this is where the Predators are hurting. Mike Fisher (aka Mr. Carrie Underwood) and David Legwand are the top two centers for the Preds. Datsyuk and Zetterberg will be a tough match for Legwand and Fisher. Andersson has been solid since his call up.
Edge: Red Wings
Wingers: Wilson and Erat have been the Predators' top two wingers, but with Patric Hornqvist back in the lineup, they should be better. Filppula scored four goals in six meetings last season, and Brunner and Tatar will pose a challenge with their speed. It will be interesting to see if Jordin Tootoo attempts to fight anyone from his old team. Richard Clune leads the Preds in penalty minutes with 16.
Defensemen: Shea Weber is all that needs to be mentioned when talking about the Predators' blue line. The Norris candidate has a lethal slapshot in addition to his physical style of play. Roman Josi has stepped up nicely in replacing Ryan Suter, who is now in Minnesota. The Preds also have another mountain of a defenseman in Hal Gill. Niklas Kronwall has continued to struggle with a minus 9 rating. Brian Lashoff will remain paired with Kronwall.
Goaltending: Pekka Rinne (6-3-4, 1.58 GAA, .938 save percentage) is as good as they come in terms of goalies. He is one of the biggest and most agile goaltenders in the league. Jimmy Howard (6-5-2, 2.97 GAA, .900 save percentage) gets the start for the Wings. Howard is still trying to find his success from last season.
Prediction: There are those who argue that the Predators are the biggest rival for the Wings, but only because of Weber slamming Zetterberg's head into the glass in last season's playoffs (and maybe because Nick Lidstrom played his last game on Nashville's ice). Even with all the motives for revenge, Nashville will still take this one.
Make It: Predators 2, Red Wings 1.
Season Prediction Record: 7-7-1.
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