Waiting for the start of the playoffs is always near-impossible to do. You read every morsel of news you can get your hands on in preparation for your team's quest to claim the greatest trophy in sports. Reading reports from the diggers and seeing bloggers boast about your team's strengths and explaining away their weaknesses gives you a sense of confidence that no one is going to beat your team and why don't they just start engraving the Cup now dammit?
That's when you think "do our opponents realize the doom their team is facing?" and you head on over to their site and read their news, and you see that they are filled with the same confidence because they think their team is pretty good (those idiots), and they actually believe that they have a chance at winning the series (fools).
Once you've taken in all the information you can, you start to break it down in your mind, and that's when the nerves start. For us Wing fans, that means facing the facts that this team is one of the most flawed Red Wing team to begin the playoffs in some time while taking on a very difficult opponent that is looking to take a very large step forward in their development as a franchise.
Me, I've got butterflies in my stomach just reading the news, and tomorrow when the puck drops all those butterflies will vomit up nervous juice and make me a wreck as I hope that just once I can get through a playoff run without losing what little hair I have left.
This is going to be a very fun series, and we've already previewed a lot of what is going to happen. But on a Tuesday afternoon I've got some random thoughts going through my head that I need to share.
- I firmly believe the Red Wings are the underdogs in this series. We're keeping close tabs on what the "experts" are saying, but my gut tells me that when all is said and done, most people are going to be picking the Predators to win this series. Nashville is a team built to win right now, and they're built to beat the Red Wings. Not accomplishing either of those things is going to set this franchise back a peg as they try and show their 2 big defensemen that the Predators are a team on the rise.
- This is not going to be a typical Wings-Preds series. In their previous 2 meetings, the Wings were the high seed while the Preds were the plucky group of guys who worked hard to get their spot and overcame a relative lack of talent. This is not the same thing. The Predators are skilled, talented, fast and big. This may be the best first round opponent the Wings have faced in the last 15 years.
- I plan on experiencing a lot of emotions this spring. Anxiety, nervousness, elation, depression, hunger. One thing I won't be is surprised. Detroit could get swept in the first round and not score a goal, win the Cup, or anything in between, and nothing will shock me. In a way, the lowered expectations may make this more fun than other playoff runs.
- I believe that a strong playoff showing by Jiri Hudler guarantees he gets a new contract. This will not be defined by points, but just by how he looks out there.
- If the Red Wings continue the trend of falling behind early only to try and attempt a comeback in the third period in this series, they're going to be golfing very quickly.
- I think if Barry Trotz is smart, he employs Shea Weber and Ryan Suter against Henrik Zetterberg, not Pavel Datsyuk. I don't say that because I think that frees up Dats to do his thing; I firmly believe that Datsyuk against Weber/Suter will not work as well for Nashville as they think.
- If the Red Wings do end up losing this series, I don't think it will be because of Jimmy Howard. I think he takes a gigantic step forward in his development and puts up fantastic numbers in this series.
- Regardless of what you think of Nashville as a rival of the Wings prior to this series beginning, you're likely going to think something very different once the series is over, regardless of the result.