The Wings traveled to Nashville on the heels of getting their asses handed to them 3-0 by the Blue Jackets and came to see the same result at the end of this contest. Nasvhille jumped on the Wings early and then took advantage of mistakes, bounces, and a solid performance by their goaltender. This was the closest I've gotten and hope to get to turning off a Red Wings game before it ends all season.
Special teams didn't break any trends as far as being underwhelming in this one, as the recently anemic Wings' power play went on life support here and still couldn't get one past Rinne, even with a two-minute 5-on-3 power play gifted them. Even better, they gave up a shorthanded goal. The penalty kill managed only 3-of-4, but did manage to hit a post on a Darren Helm breakaway, so that's a plus for all of you ping-sound fetishists out there.
Joey MacDonald was the best Wings player on the ice in this game. He gave up three goals, but none of them count as soft and made three big saves himself, one of which was a spectacular recovery on a great Steve Sullivan move. His rating on the night is +3.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 3:18 - Nashville Goal (PP): Shea Weber (slap shot) from Ryan Suter and Colin Wilson
Justin Abdelkader takes a goalie interference penalty early as he drives the net, tries to stop, and knocks over Pekka Rinne, who is bigger than he is. But, goalie protection is important, so the Preds get a power play. Nashville dumps back in after an early clear and get to the puck first on the far side. They clear the puck up to the point to make room as the PP unit shifts to beat the Red Wings' penalty killers to their positions on the other side. Weber gets it from Suter and has enough space to walk to the faceoff dot and unleash his killer slap shot partially over and partially through Joey MacDonald. The space Weber gets is partially because Suter fakes a slap shot from the point that temporarily freezes Eaves in the shooting lane, so he can't get over fast enough. Lidstrom is a little slow to react as well, as he freezes on the Weber windup, but fails to get a stick on the shot. I'm going to give Lidstrom a half-minus for this.
Penalty Adjustment: Late in the first period, Weber carries low around Detroit's end and gets behind Filppula, who gets his stick in to prevent the shot. Filppula does a very technical job of tying up the stick, but he gets his blade up in the hands and the refs call him for hooking. I feel if Flip is moving his feet here, the ref might have a better chance to see the good defensive play. As a result, I'm going to give Filppula a half-minus.
Penalty Adjustment: Not even a minute into the 2nd period, the Wings get a full two-minute 5-on-3 as Kostitsyn and Hornqvist go to the box for tripping and holding. Only the first penalty is a good call here and it's drawn by Zetterberg, so he will get a plus.
Penalty Adjustment: five minutes after the two-man advantage expired, the Predators are putting pressure on deep in the Wings' zone. Salei loses a battle to JP Dumont and paws at him with his stick. Dumont goes down and draws Salei a tripping penalty. It looks like Dumont is falling before the stick hits his skate, but Salei gets the blade parallel and isn't moving his feet. Even if there was an embellishment (which I'm not entirely sold on), there wasn't much to embellish. Salei gets a minus.
2nd Period 14:13 - Nashville Goal (SH): Sergei Kostitsyn (backhand) from Ryan Suter
A Zetterberg shot from the point flutters wide as his stick breaks. Bertuzzi skates behind the net to recover, but overskates it, allowing Suter to pick it up and skate up ice. Kostitsyn gets a half-step behind Kindl, where Suter finds him. He outmuscles the Wings' rookie on the way to the net before ramping a backhander up MacDonald's stick as he reaches in for a poke check. That's a hell of a shot by Kostitsyn and at the exact right moment too. There's a bit of unfortunate timing here, as the entire Wings' forward line was changing in anticipation of the end of the power play. Suter found the seam between that change before Kindl got all the way back. Kindl will keep his minus, as will Rafalski, for not blocking the pass. However, Helm, Draper, and Eaves will not get minuses on the play. Instead, Bertuzzi will get two minuses. He deserved one because he should have been on the ice when the goal was scored and he deserved the other for his combination of lazily letting Suter have the puck that cleanly and lazily skating off on his change to get his replacement on a half-second too slow.
Penalty Adjustment: Late in the third, Ericsson takes a penalty for an egregious hook. This was perhaps the easiest call to make all game. Ericsson gets a minus.
3rd Period 17:39 - Nashville Goal: Sergei Kostitsyn (wrist shot) from Marcel Goc and Martin Erat.
On a near-turnover with the Wings pressing in the Nashville zone, Klein pokes the puck around Zetterberg up to Erat at the Wings' blue line, who comes in on a mini-2-on-1 against Ericsson. While Kostitsyn goes to the net, Erat makes a move to the middle and finds Goc on the far side. Ericsson initially covers Erat and only realizes too late that Kostitsyn has gotten behind him. Before he can react, Goc gets the pass in and Kostitsyn puts it in off MacDonald. Ericsson will get an extra minus here. No other adjustments.
-1.5 to Jonathan Ericsson: He had two egregious giveaways up the middle in the first period alone. Not one of his finer nights in a Red Wings uniform.
-1 to Brian Rafalski: Not only did he have a bad early turnover, but he also got walked by Steve Sullivan, forcing Joey MacDonald to make his best save of the night.
-0.5 to Darren Helm: Helm had trouble clearing the zone as well a few times. I'll be honest, if he scores on the breakaway instead of hitting the post, I maybe don't give him this half-minus.
-1 to Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler: On the 5-on-3, the Wings didn't get anything resembling a setup for almost the full first minute and these two between losing the faceoff and passes to nowhere are the culprits. Aside from that, Hudler if Hudler hadn't registered minutes on the box score, I wouldn't have been convinced that he played. Filppula was slightly more noticeable, but also lost almost twice as many faceoffs as he won.
Honorable mentions: There were no pluses or minuses on the Abdelkader goalie interference or the O'Brien cross-check in the first, as well as the Smithson roughing in the second and the Franson cross-check in the third. The first one was incidental, the second and fourth were unforced stupidity plays, and the roughing was an instance of Franzen starting it and getting the benefit of the call when the ref saw the retaliation.
I'm starting to wonder if Babcock keeps the defensive pairings like they are to make it harder for opponents to game plan against in the postseason when he goes back to the pairings that worked.