Morning Skate: Is This The End?

Which Red Wings team is going to show up tonight?

I feel silly starting off with that questions, but I accepted Graham's challenge, so it is what it is. Truthfully though, regardless of which team shows up, the Wings are going to have their hands full with the Predators. There isn't much star power on the Nashville squad outside of Shea Weber, future Red Wing Ryan Suter, and Pekka Rinne, but the Preds have a system in place and work their asses off. Their 33-18-6 record is no accident.

The Preds are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, but you know they're going to come into the Joe hungry and wanting to end the streak. We have to hope that this isn't a let down game for the Wings. They're going to be missing Henrik Zetterberg in addition to already missing Cleary and Howard. They already have the home win streak record. Let's hope they don't sit back because of what they've accomplished and use not having Hank as an excuse for playing poorly if things get rough early.

The bottom line is that there should be plenty of motivation for this game regardless of the streak. The Canucks and Blues are still right behind the Wings in the standings just waiting for their chance to knock the king off their throne. The Preds aren't too far behind either. If we're talking home ice advantage, why stop in the West? The Rangers are one point back with two games in hand. The reality is that the race for the playoffs is so close. The Wings need home ice advantage and the top seed. There is 24 games left in this season and each and every game is important. Every two points are huge. Don't fall asleep, Detroit. The playoffs will be here sooner than we think and you don't want to look back and think "what if" at lost opportunities.

Get the job done.

*

On the Forecheck is your SBNation Predators' blog.

Puck drop is just after 7:30p ET on Fox Sport Detroit Plus for the locals and NHL Network for the rest of us (which means no Center Ice or Game Center Live coverage).

The Expected Lineup

*

Johan Franzen -- Pavel Datsyuk -- Todd Bertuzzi

Valtteri Filppula -- Justin Abdelkader -- Jiri Hudler

Jan Mursak -- Darren Helm -- Drew Miller

Tomas Tatar -- Cory Emmerton -- Tomas Holmstrom

*

Nicklas Lidstrom -- Ian White

Niklas Kronwall -- Brad Stuart

Jonathan Ericsson -- Jakub Kindl

*

Joey MacDonald (starting)

Ty Conklin

Scratches: Mike Commodore

Injuries: Patrick Eaves (concussion), Jimmy Howard (finger), Danny Cleary (knee) and Henrik Zetterberg (lower body...I blame Emma)

PREDATORS HOW THEY MATCH UP RED WINGS
33-18-6 (72 pts; 5th in West) Record 39-17-2 (80 pts; 1st in NHL)
2.77 (11th in NHL) Goals Per Game 3.07 (4th in NHL)
2.58 (11th) Goals Against Per Game 2.33 (5th)
21.5% (2nd) Power Play % 17.8% (14th)
81.7% (16th) Penalty Kill % 81.3% (20th)
Two tied with 17 goals Goal Leader Johan Franzen (22 goals)
Martin Erat (42 points) Points Leader Pavel Datsyuk (57 points)

  • The Red Wings are 45-22-4-7 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Nashville Predators franchise.
  • Nashville is a ridiculous 13-2-2 against teams from the Central Division.
  • Detroit is a perfect 11-for-11 on the penalty kill in their last three games. The Preds come to town with the 2nd best power play in the league. Tonight is a real challenge for Detroit's specialty teams. If the Wings can keep Nashville off the score sheet on the power play it could be a huge confidence booster for the PK moving forward.
  • Interesting stat from NHL.com's Brian Hedger, "Nashville is 21-10 when playing with one day's rest between games and just 5-10 when getting two days off between games, while the Red Wings are 13-17 with one day off and 6-4 when after a couple days of to recover."
  • Pekka Rinne is 9-4-3 with a 2.41 GAA, .929 SV% and 3 shutouts in his career against the Wings. Joey MacDonald is 0-3-0 with a 2.89 GAA and .898 SV% in 4 games against the Preds.

PLAYER STATISTICS DURING 21-GAME HOME WIN STREAK

GOALS ASSISTS POINTS
Datsyuk 6 20 26
Filppula 7 15 22
Franzen 11
10 21
Zetterberg 8 11 19
Lidstrom 6 11 17
Hudler 5 11 16
White 2 14 16
Kronwall 8 7 15
Bertuzzi 5 9 14
Cleary 2 8 10
Miller 5 5 10
Helm 4 5 9
Holmstrom 5 3 8
Stuart
2 5
7
Abdelkader 2
4 6
Kindl 1 4 5
Emmerton 3 1 4
Ericsson 1 3 4
Conner 1 1 2
Brunnstrom 0 1 1
Eaves 0 1 1

Prediction: I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about this game. Nashville is good and they always play the Wings tough. It doesn't help that the Wings are down some key players. Not having Hank would hurt a lot more if the Wings were up against a more powerful offensive club. If the Wings can be strong on the PP and PK, they'll win this game. I'm going with a 3-2 Detroit win. Pavel Datsyuk is your player of the game.

Let's Go Red Wings.

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