Friday, February 17, 2012
The Nashville Predators will travel into hostile territory to take on the Central Division leading Detroit Red Wings on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit has won 21 consecutive games on home ice, which is an NHL record. The Predators will be looking to snap that streak.
Nashville is coming off of a hard-fought 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night. With the win, the Predators improved to a 13-2-2 record against the Central Division this year. The two regulation losses have come against the Red Wings.
Detroit will be without the services of Henrik Zetterberg on Friday night due to a lower-body injury. Tomas Tatar will make his NHL debut against Nashville due to Zetterberg's injury. The Predators will likely be without the services of Patric Hornqvist.
With a regulation win, the Predators would pull within six points of the Red Wings. Nashville also has one game in hand on Detroit, so this game is huge for both teams. It will be interesting to see how the Red Wings respond after all of the hoopla on Tuesday night when they broke the NHL record for most consecutive home wins.
The Predators have come out on top in three of their last five trips to Joe Louis Arena, but the Red Wings decisively won the first meeting in Detroit this season by a 4-1 score. Detroit has won two of the first three games between these two teams in the 2011-2012 season. Nashville will look to tie the season series, and getting out to a fast start will be pivotal for the Predators. If they are able to take the crowd out of the game early, the Predators will be in good position to win the game.
My player to watch for the Red Wings is Pavel Datsyuk. Datsyuk is a magician with the hockey puck, and is arguably the best all-around player in the game today. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter will have to contain his line for the Predators to win the game.
For Nashville, my player to watch is Pekka Rinne. Rinne has been remarkably good for the Predators as of late, and he gives them a chance to win on a nightly basis. He will have to be his usual self against the Red Wings and weather the storms that Detroit will throw his way.
(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)