The Nashville Predators (12-8-1) conclude their homestand tonight with a 6 p.m. match-up with the Detroit Red Wings (11-6-4) as the Predators make their only scheduled national television appearance of the year on the Versus Network.
The Predators are the hottest team in the league having gone 8-2 in the last ten games. Detroit is a half of a game cooler at 7-2-1. The Preds have won five in a row, while the Wings are 1-1-1 in their last three games.
While the Red Wings appear to be having an off year based on their recent standards, they are still a dangerous team with many weapons. Henrik Zetterberg (9 G, 15 A) and Pavel Datsyuk 96G, 12A) are off to good starts.
Injuries have decimated the Wings line-up this season. Niklas Kronwall was off to his career best start until a injury on Saturday on a knee to knee hit by Georges Laraque sidelined him for an extended period. Johan Franzen has missed 18 games and is expected to be gone for most of the season. They are also missing Valtteri Filppula (knee), Jason Williams (leg) and Andreas Lilja (concussion) who has not played since he was injured in a fight with Shea Weber last season.
This should be an interesting match-up for the new "shoot from anywhere" Predators playing against a team that has a history of piling up huge shot totals against opponents. The Preds have exceeded 35 shots in a game seven times including 48 against Columbus on Saturday while the Wings have had more than 35 on nine occasions.
The Preds have reached 40 shots in four games this season and only did so four times for the entire 82 game season last year.
John Glennon confirms from the morning skate that Pekka Rinne will start in goal tonight for the Preds. Rinne is 8-1 in his last nine games. In the past, Barry Trotz has given preference to Dan Ellis who has had success with the Wings in the past, but not this time.
Detroit has had trouble in goal this season with Jimmy Howard (5-3-1, 2.75 gaa, .898 save %) getting the bulk of the starts recently since Chris Osgood (6-3-3, 2.70 gaa, .902 save %) has been off to a slow start. Freep.com reports Osgood will be the starter tonight.
Don't expect many penalties as the Preds and Wings are first and second respectively in the league in fewest penalties. Wade Belak may never see the light of day again after his "hooking to the groin" stunt on Saturday.
When infractions are whistled, Detroit has the advantage on the power play 23.9% (7th) to 15.7% (25th) over the Preds. The Preds have had more success on the penalty kill, 79.7% (16th) to 75.7 (25th).
The last time that the Red Wings played in Nashville was on February 28, 2009 in the memorable 8-0 blowout levied by the Predators. I would not expect an outcome like that now or at any time in the future. That game was a complete anomaly that even the Predator players were a bit sheepish about at the conclusion.
After tonight's game, the Predators will practice at Centennial on Tuesday morning then fly to Colorado for a rematch with the Avalanche. They will then return to the Sommet for three games in four days starting Friday night against the Blues.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass