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Predators win big one in home ice chase against Red Wings

Mar 30, 2012, 10:25 PM EDT

If the playoffs began right at this moment, the Nashville Predators would hold a crucial home-ice advantage over the Detroit Red Wings in an intriguing playoff match. Both teams still have four games to go, but Nashville made something of a statement in beating them 4-1 in Detroit.

The biggest span came in the second period when the Predators took a 2-0 lead despite an 18-7 shot disadvantage. Pekka Rinne (31 out of 32 saves) was the biggest star of that period and the game, yet one could say that Alexander Radulov‘s goal ranks as the most ominous sign for a Red Wings team that isn’t very happy to see him back in the NHL.

Naturally, a one-point lead isn’t perfectly safe for the Predators, even if the Red Wings have been struggling lately. Fortunes can turn on a dime during the stretch run, as just about every part of the NHL’s playoff race has shown us.

Let’s take a look at the two teams’ final four games, then:

Predators’ remaining schedule

Saturday: vs. Chicago
April 3: vs. Minnesota
April 5: vs. Dallas
April 7: at Colorado

Red Wings’ remaining schedule

Sunday: vs. Florida
April 4: at St. Louis
April 5: vs. New Jersey
April 7: vs. Chicago

The Florida Panthers already revealed that a team’s “on paper” schedule only matters so much, but it would appear that Nashville faces a slightly easier road to the fourth seed. All four of Detroit’s opponents are likely to be in the playoffs and while the Devils might not have much to play for, the Panthers will be desperate and the two Central opponents would likely love to hand it to the team that has beguiled the entire division for its entire existence. Back-to-back games can’t help an older Red Wings team’s cause, either.

That’s not to say that it’s a cakewalk for the Predators, though. Both teams enjoy three of their last four contests at home, which likely is a bigger factor for the more home-dependent Red Wings. As much as those Central teams would like to “stick it” to Detroit, the Stars and Avalanche are likely to be desperate at the end of this season (unless Colorado ends up getting booted altogether).

A banner night for Predators franchise

It’s quite the way for Nashville head coach Barry Trotz to get his 500th career win – all with the Predators. The Associated Press frames what this win means for Trotz and Nashville’s distinguished GM David Poile.

Trotz is the fifth coach to win 500 games with one franchise, joining the New York Islanders’ Al Arbour, Buffalo’s Lindy Ruff, Chicago’s Billy Reay and Montreal’s Toe Blake.

Predators general manager David Poile, whose savvy drafting has helped the smaller-market franchise consistently win, is the first NHL general manager to win 500 games with two teams. He helped the Washington Capitals win 594 games from 1982-97 before getting the Predators ready for the 1998-99 season, their debut in the league.

It’s the kind of franchise-building that should create a blueprint for future(?) expansion teams and makes for a worrisome opponent for the mighty Red Wings.

  1. terriers4 - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    Think you need to change the heading, it’s the preds not the panthers.

  2. terriers4 - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    Haha Never mind u caught before I could even say it.

    • James O'Brien - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:39 PM

      Yeah, noticed it pretty quickly – but I appreciate that. Two posts with P-name teams got me for a second there.

      Plus, let’s face it, they’re both beasts that could eat you. :-)

  3. kiopta1 - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    Getting really sick of my wings sucking.

  4. saintez - Mar 30, 2012 at 11:38 PM

    Clearly the shift of power has begun and the RW fans better get use to it. Old and not as fast or physical as the preds.

    • polegojim - Mar 30, 2012 at 11:54 PM

      Wishful thinking!

      Yes, we’re weaker, but just reloading.

      GO RED WINGS!

  5. iamanidiotfan - Mar 31, 2012 at 12:41 AM

    The Preds are officially a team you don’t want to play in the first round.

    • polegojim - Mar 31, 2012 at 8:45 PM

      Officially by means of what basis of measurement?

      One win in Detroit?

      • iamanidiotfan - Mar 31, 2012 at 8:56 PM

        Three areas. Goaltending…Rinne looks like he’s capable of stealing a game at any time. Defence…that’s quite a shutdown pair they’ve got there. And it looks like they may actually have the scoring. I saw numerous reports the Red Wings weren’t happy that Radulov was allowed to come back without clearing waivers. I wouldn’t want to play them the first round, because even if you win, you’re going to go through a war which makes it hard to advance.

      • polegojim - Mar 31, 2012 at 11:42 PM

        It really is a double standard… but you’re right, he adds a lot to the team.

        We’ll see. The game last night isn’t a good indicator of the Wings at their strength. MANY major Wing players out and/or just returning. It will change come playoff time.

        Wings in 6.

  6. hines86for6 - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    The Preds are just a better younger hockey team than the Wings.

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