Morning Skate: Red Wings at Predators Preview

Gregory Shamus

Game 41

8:00p ET, Bridgestone Arena

Nashville, TN

TV: Fox Sports Detroit

Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

Predators Blog: On The Forecheck

This is the second and final time this season that the Wings will play the Predators, after playing them at half a dozen times a season as division opponents. Now that we're no longer in the same division, didn't play each other last Spring in the playoffs, and Shea Weber hasn't repeatedly smashed Zetterberg's head into the boards in over 20 month, perhaps some of the excitement and animosity built up between these two teams will have subsided.

I don't know if I've ever been so relieved to have a player come back from injury as I was when Captain Henrik Zetterberg returned to lead his team to a much needed victory against the Panthers on Saturday night. Captain Hank isn't merely content with getting his team back on the right track and winning hockey games, but he's bringing reinforcements with him. In addition to getting Hank and Abby back last game, there's a rumor going around from the diggers that we may get Darren "I may be only 26 years old, but my body was pieced together using spare body parts gathered at the nursing home" Helm back tonight as well. He'll take the morning skate and we'll find out then if he'll return or not. Helene St. James tweeted this quote from Helm yesterday and it's amazing.

Darren Helm on Wings practice: "I made sure Tag didn't touch the puck too much, so it was good. Got my confidence going." #SonofaBertuzzi

In case you didn't already know, Tag is Todd Bertuzzi's son, who is with the team on the Fathers trip. IN anticipation of Helm's probable return, Luke Glendneing was re-assigned to the Griffins, just in time to join them for their big outdoor game this evening against the Toronto Marlies.

Darren Helm isn't the only reinforcement we may be getting back tonight, because Jimmy Howard will either start tonight, or back up Petr Mrazek. Jonas Gustavsson is out with a sore groin (shocker, I know) and Jimmy says he's almost ready to come back.

The Wings have won 3 of their last 5 games, and the team as a whole looked much more competent, confident, and driven against the Panthers, and there was a visible difference in the way the team carried itself. Thank you Zetterberg. I think it's become painfully apparent during Hank's absence, just how much this team needs him, both on and off the ice. Take away their Captain, and the team just looks lost, uncertain, and.....not good. Did I mention I'm happy to have Hank back?

This is the last game of 2013, and we need the points like Ian White needed Nick Lidstrom.


The Expected Lineup

Forwards

Todd Bertuzzi Pavel Datsyuk Tomas Jurco
Justin Abdelkader Henrik Zetterberg Daniel Alfredsson
Tomas Tatar Joakim Andersson Gustav Nyquist
Daniel Cleary Darren Helm Drew Miller

Defensemen

Niklas Kronwall Danny DeKeyser
Brendan Smith Brian Lashoff
Kyle Quincey Jakub Kindl

Goaltenders

Jimmy Howard (Starting)
Petr Mrazek

Scratches: Mikael Samuelsson & Patrick Eaves

Injuries: Jonas Gustavsson (groin), Johan Franzen (concussion) & Stephen Weiss (groin)


PREDATORS THE MATCH-UP RED WINGS
17-18-4 (38 pts; 7th in Central) Record 18-13-9 (45 pts; 4th in Atlantic)
2.28 (26th in NHL) Goals Per Game 2.55 (18th in NHL)
2.87 (22nd) Goals Against Per Game 2.62 (13th)
21.% (7th) Power Play % 18.8% (12th)
81.8% (14th) Penalty Kill % 84.6% (8th)
Craig Smith (10 goals) Goal Leader Pavel Datsyuk (14 goals)
David Legwand (25 points) Points Leader Datsyuk & Zetterberg (31 points)


Opponent Outlook

Player to Fear: Shea Weber has a knack for scoring important goals against the Wings. Plus, his face is kind of caveman looking, and if I met him in a dark alley I might hit him with a pipe. Frking Shea Weber

X-Factor: Craig Smith is on a bit of a hot streak.

Familiar Faces: Nooooope

Thumbs up (One Thing to Like About Nashville): This glorious video

Thumbs down (One Thing to Dislike About Nashville): Their fans eat their boogers. Eeeewwwwww.


Bullets of Knowledge

  • The Red Wings are 49-25-4-8 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Predators.

  • Last 10 games: Nashville 4-5-1. Detroit 3-5-2.

  • The Wings are currently 1-2-1 on Mondays.

  • Howard is 9-6-1 with a 2.18 GAA and .923 SV% with 3 shutouts in his career against Nashville.

Prediction: Captain Zetterballs lights Mups.

Let's Go Red Wings!!!
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