Round One Preview: Wings vs. Predators


OK, so it’s not  the match up I wanted for the Red Wings, but its the one then they earned.

A trip to the friendly confines of Jobing.com Arena in Phoenix was an option, but one Holmstrom to Datsyuk pass and score later, the Wings are off to Nashville for some sweet tea and playoff hockey.

As many of you know, and some of you don’t the Predators are the real deal this year. This isn’t the run of the mill “happy to be here” Nashville Predators. No sir, this is a legitimate,  Stanley Cup Contending hockey team that plays in the state of Tennessee.

Looking at the Nashville roster, you might say the Preds are a poor man’s Dertoit Red Wings.

Actually, the Preds may be the better version of the Detroit Red Wings this season.

Stop me when this sounds familiar:

The Preds are a team that can roll four lines, lacks a mega star but has some top end talent.  The Predators won’t beat you up with their fists, but they will make you pay on the power play. They’re deep on defense and have a goalie with the potential to back stop them all the way through the finals. Not to mention a long tenured top notch coach in the NHL.

If you look at a lot of the boring break down stats in the NHL, these two teams are often right next to each other, or very close (the biggest exception being power play with Nashville at No.1 , Detroit at No.22 in the league)

That being said, I really do think the Predators are the “team of destiny” in this year’s NHL playoffs. The team has depth where you need depth, talent where you need talent, and two of the better defensemen in the NHL.  Combine that with a lethal power play and stellar goaltending and suddenly you have yourself a real contender.

Maybe I have been dipping into the sweet tea (vodka) a little too much, but I can’t find the evidence to pick against the Predators in this series.

They even have the added motivation of “WIN NOW.”

This is the best team the Predators have ever put on the ice, but it seems pretty sure to be broken up in the off-season.

I predict Nashville gets to the Western finals at least. Obviously that means they take out the Wings in the first round, and I’ll guess six games.

I would love to be wrong though.  The Wings have an edge in experience and that can’t really be measured in a preview like this. I’ve overvalued it in the past to be quite honest and I may be under-valuing here. The Wings were also at one point running on max efficiency, but that team hasn’t been on the ice since the home winning streak was broken. Could they put it together and win this series? Absolutely. We’ve all seen them flip that “switch” before, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Wings this out of sync heading into the playoffs.

The Wings clearly have the better talent in this match up, but I am very nervous about its depth beyond two lines. The scoring punch seems to have one arm tied behind its back. If the Wings do pull it off it will be because Datsyuk, Franzen, and Zetterberg carried the scoring burden.

With the Wings getting healthy, there is a pretty good chance of me headlining something in the near future “I was dead wrong.” Darren Helm’s return will mean a lot to a team lacking a “goin’ to work” Detroit hockey kind of attitude, but I don’t get the feeling his return will put the Wings over the top.

Feel free to call me a genius or an idiot below or on facebook.

And that is the end to my objectivity. GO WINGS!

Advertisements

Your Thoughts: Zetterberg Still a Top-10 Forward?

It doesn’t seem like anybody has noticed…but Henrik Zetterberg is having his worst statistical season since his rookie year.  With Eight Goals and 24 assists through 44 games it certainly looks bad on paper.

Then again, the Wings haven’t been struggling and secondary scoring has certainly taken the burden off the superstar, but should Wings fans be worried about Zetterberg’s numbers? Is the 31-year old in what is essentially a lifetime contract still a top-10 forward in the NHL? Do you care if he’s considered a top-10 forward?

By the way Zetterberg hasn’t recorded a single point in the last three games (this was written before the Buffalo game, where he is almost certain to get a hat trick now).

It should also be noted that Valteri Filppula is finally having that break out season everyone has been calling for  his entire career, So could it just be a case of there just isn’t enough puck to go around?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

10 Reasons to watch the World Junior Championships

The IIHF World Junior Championships will begin Dec. 26th. Here in the states the tournament seems to be picking up a little bit of steam since the 2010 gold medal showing. Still, many have never even heard of the tournament, much less watched it. It’s just something you have to know about to watch, because you’ll never stumble across it otherwise.

If you have the NHL network on your cable provided, you can catch most of the preliminary games from group A , plus all of Team USA’s games. If you aren’t  fortunate to have the NHL Network, no worries. NHL.com will stream Team USA’s games so you can watch them on your computer.

10 Reasons to Watch the WJC, and Tean USA:

10. It’s meaningful hockey in the middle of December

9.Canada wears a throwback jersey now too. That means they are following the USA.

8. Miracle on Ice jerseys

7. USA won the Gold in 2010

6.  It sure beats regular season NBA.

5. USA won the bronze last year

4. USA vs. Canada

3.  There are a few Red Wings (or your favorite  NHL team’s) prospects playing in the tournament.

2. It has all the drama of the Olympics, just none of the names.

1. Six kids from Michigan are on team USA, including starting goaltender Jack Campbell. Here is the rest of the roster.

Credit to http://puckthemedia.wordpress.com/ for this handy schedule.

2012 IIHF World Junior Championship – NHL Network-U.S. Broadcast Schedule

Dec. 26 – Jan. 5

Date Game Time (EST)

Mon., Dec. 26 Canada vs. Finland 3:30 p.m.

USA vs. Denmark 8 p.m.

Tues., Dec. 27 Denmark vs. Czech Republic 8 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 28 Finland vs. USA 3:30 p.m.

Czech Republic vs. Canada 8 p.m.

Thurs., Dec. 29 Canada vs. Denmark 8 p.m.

Fri., Dec. 30 Czech Republic vs. USA 3:30 p.m.

Finland vs. Denmark 8 p.m.

Sat., Dec. 31 USA vs. Canada 8 p.m.

Mon., Jan. 2 Quarterfinal #1 5:00 p.m.

Quarterfinal #2 9:00 p.m.

Tue., Jan. 3 Semifinal #1 5:00 p.m.

Semifinal #2* 9:00 p.m.

Thur., Jan. 5 Bronze-Medal Game 3:30 p.m.

Gold-Medal Game 8:00 p.m.