The Predators are in the Motor City to visit an old rival, the Detroit Red Wings. Long time Pred fans can remember when Detroit was the games to circle on the schedule… a team to be feared, to be hated, to be loathed… The hatred has faded since the Preds finally slayed the dragon in only their second playoff series win. April 20, 2012 is a date that will live on in Nashville fans hearts forever as Nashville sent Niklas Lidstrom into retirement on a series winning goal from Michigan native David Legwand and a celebration on Bridgestone Arena ice.
But… the Wings are now in the East and we only see them twice a year. Chicago has taken their place as most hated… but… sometime the embers of the old rivalry spark up.
The Predators begin their longest road trip of the season at Little Caesers Arena tonight, it’s the front end of a back-to-back that takes the team to Montreal tomorrow night and the beginning of a five game in seven night stretch. Before leaving, the Preds held a spirited practice that featured Colton Sissons in a regular jersey, Filip Forsberg and Yannick Weber were also on the ice, but in non-contact jerseys. Expectations are high that all three should be activated off IR during this trip.
Detroit started 2019 with a loss to Calgary and are 1-6-3 in their last ten games. There are only two points out of the basement in the Eastern Conference and talk of being a big seller at the trade deadline is swirling. The Red Wings have certainly tried to reload over the past few seasons… it hasn’t worked. A rebuild may be in the offing.
The Red Wings do have some talent, Dylan Larkin leads the team in points (39) and goals (17 while Gustav Nyquist and Andreas Athanasiou have 34 and 24 points each. Jimmy Howard has been solid if not spectacular with a 10-10-5 record, posting a 2.77 GAA and a .918 save percentage. These Red Wings, while down, are no walkover. They are getting healthier as Anothony Mantha is expected to be activated from IR fairly soon, maybe even tonight. Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser and Trevor Daily remain on IR as of this morning.
For Nashville, you know that either Pekka Rinne or Juuse Saros will go tonight. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Saros in net after his dominating performance against Philly on New Year’s Night… but if Rinne goes tonight, Saros will get the start tomorrow.
Keep an eye on social media today, hints on who (if anyone) is activated will start to break at day of game skate. Game time is 6pm central. Pregame starts at 5pm on 102.5 the Game, 5:30 on Fox Sports Tennessee. Puck drop is at 6:08pm.
It’s a new year and it’s time to bring out….
The Where We Stand
As play begins today, Nashville stands second in the Central Division, two points behind the Winnipeg Jets, Winnipeg holds two games in hand over Nashville. The Preds lead Dallas and Colorado by four points and Minnesota by five points.
Nashville currently holds the 4 seed in the Western Conference playoff race and has a 97% chance of making the playoffs according to SportsClubStats.com
- Milwaukee Update –The Admirals got 2019 off to a nice start with a win over Rockford. They are at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tomorrow night and at Hershey.
- Congratulations to Roman Josi and Pekka Rinne on being selected to represent the Predators in the upcoming All-Star Weekend.
- Start voting for the “Last Man In” for the Central as the Preds have nominated Filip Forsberg for that role.
- Tonight is game 42, the official start of the second half of the season for Nashville.
- Some earthquakes in the World Juniors as Canada gets knocked out before the medal round… yikes! Congrats to Eeli Tolvanen and Finland for achieving that. Their reward? A 7pm central showdown against Switzerland in the semi’s.
- After a slow start, Tolvanen has caught fire, scoring his second of the tournament in the Finn win over the Czech Republic.
- Team USA is still going strong after a solid 3-1 win over the Czech Republic in the quarters… they have a semi-final matchup at 3pm today against the Russians. Coverage is on the NHL Network… a nice lead in to tonight’s Preds game.
- Alex Ovechkin scored his 30th goal of the season last night… that marks his 14th straight season scoring 30 goals or more. Wow.
SlapShot Radio’s 11th season is on! As the longest running hockey show in the region, SSR feeds hockey fans what they crave… intelligent, fun, entertaining talk about their favorite sport and we do it from the opening of training camp all the way through UFA day. We are on every Wednesday at 7pm… except this week where we move to Tuesday as the Preds are playing Wednesday. Please join Brent Peterson, Zack McCann and me on 102.5 the Game.
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