The Nashville Predators are taking their season high three-game winning streak up against traditional divisional rival Detroit who is also on a three-game streak and has won all of their games in prior streaks of five, four, and seven wins this season.
For 13 seasons, no team has spelled "rivalry" like the Detroit Red Wings for the Predators and their fans alike. For the team, the measuring stick for Nashville has been the Wings. The fans have negative chants about the Wings whether they are in town or not.
For eleven of twelve prior seasons, Detroit has blocked Nashville's shot at a Central Division title. Twice, the Preds have been stymied in the first round of the playoffs by the Wings.
The Predators hold a 17-15-5 edge on the Wings at the Bridgestone Arena in spite of Detroit having a near home ice advantage in Nashville in the early years when many local NHL fans were actually transplanted "Pred-Wings" fans who pulled for the Preds except for when the opponent showed up wearing the winged wheel.
Over the years, the red sweaters have become more sparse and the Predator colors have taken center stage as Nashville has won the hearts and souls of even lifelong Detroit fans who have learned to enjoy the non-traditional consistency of "Predator Hockey."
The Preds and Wings met in Detroit on November 26 when Detroit prevailed 4-1 in a game where the Wings played near perfect hockey against a slumping Predator team. Frankie Bouillon was injured during the game and Roman Josi made his NHL debut.
Tonight, the NHL's top goalie this season, Jimmy Howard (18-6-1, 1.82, .932), will match up against Vezina runner-up, Pekka Rinne (13-9-4, 2.52, .921) in a battle of top netminders.
Little has changed with the Wings with Nicklas Lidstrom (6g, 14a), Pavel Datsyuk (9g, 21a), Henrik Zetterberg (6g, 14a), Valtteri Filppula (10g, 15a), and Johan Franzen (14g, 15a) providing the offensive attack.
Words cannot do the justice that the following shaky video can do in setting the stage for tonight's "rivalry."
Check out other Predator previews from Amanda DiPaolo, Ryan Porth, and Predators.com.
For previews from the Motor City, check out MLive, the Detroit Free Press, Winging It in Motown, and the Detroit News.
For the game notes from NHL Media Services go here.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass