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Detroit coach Babcock on playoff matchup: “It looks to me we’re playing Nashville”

Mar 27, 2012, 1:45 PM EDT

Mike Babcock

Whether he likes it or not, Mike Babcock has accepted what the future has in store.

“It looks to me we’re playing Nashville in the first round,” the Red Wings coach told MLive.com. “Two really good teams, not much to pick between us, so it’s going to be a battle.”

At the time of writing, Detroit was sitting fourth in the Western Conference with 97 points, one point clear of fifth-place Nashville (96). It’s unlikely either will catch Central Division-leading St. Louis (103) or be caught by sixth-place Chicago (92) — according to Sports Club Stats, Detroit has a 65 percent chance of finishing fourth and a 30 percent chance of finishing fifth; Nashville has a 31 percent chance of finishing fourth and a 61 percent chance of finishing fifth.

What it means? With six games left in the regular season, the Preds and Wings can essentially start prepping for their first-round playoff matchup.

But before the two teams start looking ahead to the playoffs, there’s the not-so-tiny issue of home-ice advantage. Detroit, who earlier this season set an NHL record 23-game home winning streak, would obviously love to have an extra game at Joe Louis Arena (the Wings are 2-0 against the Preds at the Joe this year) — and Nashville would obviously love for Detroit to play an extra game on the road (the Wings are 16-20-3 away from the Joe this year.)

On Friday, both teams will decide their fates as the Wings host the Preds in their sixth and final meeting of the season. Detroit leads the season series 3-2, but it’s Nashville who comes in the hotter side having won six of their last 10, including a 3-2 win over Detroit on Mar. 10.

If the two teams do end up meeting in the playoffs, it’ll be for the third time — Detroit eliminated Nashville in six games in both 2003-04 (Nashville’s first-ever postseason appearance) and 2007-08 (which, oddly enough, was Alex Radulov‘s swan song.)

  1. bensawesomeness - Mar 27, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    I got a honest-to-goodness question for everybody, mostly Nashville fans

    If Nashville loses in the first round to Detroit ( not a bad team by any means ) what happens to the team? Is the impression that Suter and Weber would stick around, on the idea that they’re regarded as contenders now? Or will not making it past the first round just be the be-all end-all and they’ll up and leave?

    I’d love to see Nashville stay good for a long time, but as a Wings fan, i’m really hopoing they lose in the first round to Detroit

    • comeonnowguys - Mar 27, 2012 at 3:32 PM

      That particular chicken hasn’t hatched yet.

  2. bluesfan72 - Mar 27, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Tough to say what happens to the Preds after this season, even if they do make it past the first round. Both Weber and Suter are going to command huge money. And now that Radulov is back, he may get a payday if they intend to keep him. Not to mention a few other rather important pieces to their puzzle are due to be FA’s at the end of the season. They do, however, have about $12 million of cap space under the current CBA (which is about to expire) so we’ll just have to wait and see.

  3. hsnepts - Mar 27, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    I’m not sure on the exact numbers, and obviously its different for each team, but each playoff probably round nets the owner upwards of 5mil.

    The number of big-name players the Preds sign in the off-season is probably dependent on how far they go, thus how much money there is. One round each for Weber, Suter and Radulov I suppose.

  4. geo91 - Mar 27, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    I think this is the make or break year for Nashville. Detroit is the measuring stick for them for a long time now, so to get over that hump would vault them into being a big contender. If however they lose I think they’ll take a step back into mediocrity and guys will leave. It’s just a shame they have to meet round 1.

    Go Wings go!!!!

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