The Nashville Predators face a huge hurdle this weekend beginning with a game tonight against the Detroit Red Wings at the Bridgestone Arena at 7 p.m. and ending with a game in Buffalo that starts 21 hours later.
The Predators are 5-3-2 in their last ten games and are one point out of a playoff spot as they enter tonight's action. The Preds' come from behind 4-3 overtime win over Boston on Thursday was a big boost to the team's confidence.
The Wings have all but clinched the Central Division as they have a ten point lead over Chicago and have gone 6-2-2 in their last ten games. The Wings are riding a four game win streak including a 2-0 victory in Columbus on Thursday in their last outing.
This is the fifth meeting between the two teams this season. The Preds have won three out of four so far. The Preds fell to the Wings 5-2 on October 30th at Joe Louis Arena in a game that had the Preds basically playing with 17 skaters. On December 8, the Preds beat the Wings 3-2 in Detroit in a game featuring strong defense and goaltending.
In Nashville, on February 5, the Predators had a 3-0 win over the Wings in a solid performance at both ends of the ice. Four days later, the Preds won their final game of the year in Detroit 4-1. The two teams will meet for the final time of the regular season in Nashville in two weeks.
Both teams are struggling with injuries. Joel Ward is expected to return tonight after missing the last two games. The Wings will be without Pavel Datsyuk and Jiri Hudler and Chris Osgood are definitely out according to MLive. Johan Franzen will be a game time decision.
The probable goaltenders are Pekka Rinne (26-20-8, 2.11, .929) for the Predators and Jimmy Howard (34-13-5, 2.75, .909) for the Wings.
The team will leave immediately after the game and travel to Buffalo for tomorrow's 4 p.m. match with the Sabres.
Other Predator previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, The Tennessean, Josh Cooper, Chris Burton, HNIN, and Predatorial.
For previews from the Motor City, check out MLive, the Detroit Free Press, Winging It in Motown, and the Detroit News.
In Pred Nation...
Jay Levin of the Predators has a look at the how the weekend's games affect the Western Conference playoff race.
The inevitable news from RT @JoshuaCooper: Trotz said Lombardi is done for the year.
Patten Fuqua at Section 303 has an expose on why the Red Wings suck.
Here is a short excerpt from Barry Trotz's post game on Thursday where he singles out the great crowd support.
This week's My View from Mark Willoughby is brought to you by the letters "W", "T", and "F".
David Singleton questions whether Barry Trotz and David Poile are really as good as everyone says.
Milwaukee beat San Antonio 4-1 last night in a huge road win. Jeremy Smith got the win as Mark Dekanich is banged up at this time.
Michael Cass at the Tennessean has a post about the ongoing success of Bridgestone Arena.
Around the NHL...
RLD Hockey has the Saturday Face Off and debates the league's most underpaid player. One of them is a Predator.
NHL.com has a good roundup of today's games and the playoff implications if each.
The NHL is on pace for a 22% reductions in games decided by a shootout this season.
Chris Botta looks a a possible return for the playoffs by Sidney Crosby.
Chris Tremulis takes a deep view of the Western Conference at the RLD.
#PuckChat returned this week at View From My Seats.
USA Hockey announced that Dean Blais will be its coach for the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Adrian Dater carves up the Avalanche. Dater is the Hunter Thompson of hockey writers.
Ryan Kennedy looks at the Psychology of sports with the New Jersey Devils as an example.
Craig Custance looks at what an NFL strike would do to hockey.
Vintage Leaf Memories looks at the decision to sit James Reimer in favor of J. S. Giguere which eventually led to a 4-0 Panthers whitewash on Thursday.
What would a day be without discussion of another sale of a team. This time it is the Thrashers.
Steve Lapore rants about another Ranger-Flyers game on the NHL on NBC. I agree, there are other teams outside the Boston to Washington corridor.
Intent to Blow confirms that most things are P.K. Subban's fault.
Odds and Ends...
A new preview for next week's episode of The Office is setting up the final show for Michael as it appears that he will ride off into wedding bliss with his true soul-mate, Holly.
Dee Karl and I Tweeted about how restrained the folks in Japan have been and how that was not the case in the US after the Katrina disaster. Slate has a piece about how "normal" the folks in Japan have been after the quake.
Here is another stupid human trick. A man dives into a foot of water from 36 feet.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass