Morning Skate: Is This The End?

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 28: Nicklas Lidstrom #5 of the Detroit Red Wings waves to the fans after being acknowledged for playing his 1,500th NHL game while playing the San Jose Sharks at Joe Louis Arena on October 28, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Whatever you do tonight try to enjoy this game.

Who knows what will happen? Who knows which Red Wings team will show up? Who knows if the greatest organ-i-zation in sports has another great comeback story in them?

What we do know is that tonight could be the final game of the Red Wings' season. It could be the last time we have meaningful hockey until October. It's very possible Detroit wins tonight and sends this series to a sixth game. There's even a chance this thing can still go seven and the Wings pull it out. Anything can happen and last year is proof of that. The Predators are a good team and Detroit is doing it's best to make Pekka Rinne look pretty, pretty good. But it just takes the smallest thing to change momentum and change the story of a series. One save here or one goal there and this Wings team could all of the sudden believe in themselves and find that swagger they've been missing. Is it likely to happen? Probably not. Does that mean I'm going to give up believing this team can still win this series? Hell no.

Win or lose tonight I'm going to enjoy the hell out of this game. This could be Nick Lidstrom's last game ever. The greatest defenseman in the last 30 years might take the ice for the final time. It could be the last time we see Tomas Holmstrom parked in front of the net taking a beating and making the opposing goalie's life a nightmare. Whatever happens happens. I'm just going to sit back and appreciate those two players.

It's either the season finale or the beginning of a historic comeback tonight. Either way, ladies and gentlemen, it's a must win situation and it's going to be one hell of a game. Get your popcorn ready.

*

Puck drop is just after 8p ET on Fox Sports Detroit for the locals and CNBC for the rest of us.

The Expected Lineup

*

Valtteri Filppula -- Henrik Zetterberg -- Jiri Hudler

Johan Franzen -- Pavel Datsyuk -- Danny Cleary

Drew Miller -- Justin Abdelkader -- Todd Bertuzzi

Gustav Nyquist -- Cory Emmerton -- Tomas Holmstrom

*

Nicklas Lidstrom -- Ian White

Niklas Kronwall -- Brad Stuart

Kyle Quincey -- Jonathan Ericsson

*

Jimmy Howard (starting)

Ty Conklin

Scratches: Jan Mursak and Jakub Kindl

Injuries: Patrick Eaves (concussion), Joey MacDonald (back) and Darren Helm (sliced up arm)

Black Aces: Joakim Andersson, Louis-Marc Aubry, Fabian Brunnstrom, Francis Pare, Tomas Tatar, Travis Ehrhardt, Garnet Exelby, Doug Janik, Brian Lashoff, Brendan Smith and Thomas McCollum

RED WINGS 1st ROUND MATCHUP PREDATORS
1 Wins 3
2.00 Goals Per Game 2.75
4-21 (19.0%) Power Play 2-19 (10.5%)
17-19 (89.3%) Penalty Kill 17-21 (81.0%)
Henrik Zetterberg (2 goals) Goal Leader Gabriel Bourque (3 goals)
Pavel Datsyuk (3 points) Points Leader 3 tied with 3 points

  • The Red Wings are 9-7 all-time against the Nashville Predators in the playoffs.
  • Tonight could mark fewest games a Detroit team has played since the 2002-03 season when the Wings were swept by Mike Babcock's Mighty Duck of Anaheim in the first round. It would also be the fewest games the team has played since the lockout. In 2005-06, the Wings lost in the first round but it was in six games to the Edmonton Oilers. I try not to remember that one.
  • Detroit is 38-37 all-time in Game 5 of a playoff series.
  • According to Brian Hedger, "Rinne went 14-0-2 in the regular season when stopping 35 or more shots. His regular-season numbers were even better when facing 40 or more, going 5-0-2 with a 1.66 goals-against average and .958 save percentage, including a 4-3 victory against Detroit Dec. 15 in Nashville. He is also 3-0 in this series when facing 35 or more shots after stopping 40 in Nashville's 3-1 win in Game 4."
Prediction: Just win, baby! Wings live to see another day. They take this game 2-0 and Nicklas Lidstrom is your player of the game.

LET'S GO RED WINGS.




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