Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rivalry renewed as Red Wings visit Smashville

The sizzling Detroit Red Wings head into Bridgestone Arena on Thursday night to take on a Nashville Predators team that has won three games in a row. Both teams have been playing pretty well as of late, and tonight figures to be another classic game between these two teams.

In the first meeting between these two teams this year on November 26 in Detroit, the Red Wings dominated every facet of the game and won 4-1 over Nashville. This time around, the Predators will hope to go 180 degrees in the other direction.

Nashville is coming off of a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night in a game that saw the Predators put 45 shots on Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. The Predators will need to pepper the Detroit net tonight if they want to have offensive success.

Detroit is one of the hottest teams in the NHL, and have gone 8-2-0 in their last ten games. The Red Wings are led by superstar forward Pavel Datsyuk. He has arguably the best hands, and overall skill set, in the entire NHL. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter will likely see a lot of Datsyuk tonight, and they will have to really be on their toes.

The key to this game is going to be special teams. Will the Predators power play continue to perform at the high level that they have been for the past six games? Can Nashville's penalty kill hang with the high-powered Detroit power play? Nashville's power play is ranked 4th in the league, while the Red Wings' power play is ranked 6th in the league. The team that is able to stop the opposition's power play will come out on top in this game.

My player to watch for the Detroit Red Wings is Johan Franzen. Franzen is second on the team (behind Datsyuk) in points, and is a strong forward. The Red Wings have a lot of weapons on both sides of the ice, but Franzen is a key part of this Detroit lineup. Nashville will have to neutralize his game by controlling the puck for the majority of the night.

For the Predators, my player to watch is Patric Hornqvist. He will need to plant himself in front of the Detroit net and do a good job of screening the goalie tonight.

(Photo credit: Leanne Charles)

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