Nashville-Detroit is another matchup that will be a great series but for different reasons than the four/five matchup in the East. It’s also another case of how unfortunate it is to lose one of these teams in the first round.
Detroit got off to a great start this season and set the record for consecutive home wins, but their play outside of Joe Louis Arena is simply atrocious. They are 31-7-3 at home and 17-21-3 on the road. Those numbers aren’t sustainable and they’re at risk of their first opening round defeat since 2005-06.
Keys for Nashville’s Success
The key to Nashville’s success this season has been defense.
The Predators have the best defensive pairing in Shea Weber and Ryan Suter and also have some of the best two way centers in the game in Mike Fisher, David Legwand, and Paul Gaustad. Their stellar defense, combined with Vezina candidate Pekka Rinne, should give the Red Wings headaches all series.
Winning their games on home ice is also very key for the club considering how lethal Detroit is on their home rink.
Keys for Detroit’s Success
The Wings’ biggest strength is their top two lines, or line 1a and 1b as I like to call them. No team in the league can match these two lines’ overall talent. For the Wings to be successful these lines will have to be super productive, which hasn’t been a problem all season. They also need to stay out of the penalty box as much as possible since the Preds have the most efficient PP in the league.
Who Will Win…And Why
This will be the first year I’ve taken the Preds to advance to round 2 in a playoff series. The basis for this prediction is home ice advantage. If it were the other way around I would take Detroit.
The Wings have limped into the playoffs and look like their age is catching up with them. Nashville has a narrow window to make a run at a cup and this is their year. They have solid defense, outstanding goaltending, and an opportunistic offense that can make you pay for your mistakes.
This series will be one of the better ones all playoffs.
Predators-Red Wings Prediction: Nashville in 7.