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tRuSt ThE pRoCeSs

NHL: Nashville Predators at Detroit Red Wings Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Wings welcome Nashville to their new digs just a few days after heading to the familiar arena where Detroit has found so much success and are getting a Predators team coming straight out of their barn after facing Ottawa last night. The Wings took the last meeting in a solidly-played game and will be looking to rebound from a late loss to the Leafs on Sunday.

Link to’s box score

First Period

Not a terribly fast start to the period, but about three minutes in we got our first good chances of the game. Unfortunately they were from the Preds establishing forecheck and creating a Nick Jensen turnover. Howard was able to make that stop and then two more off Preds faceoff wins leading to shots on net. Things got worse soon after, as the Preds continued to put on pressure and end up with the first goal of the game at 4:18 off a Roman Josi point shot through heavy traffic that just barely deflects off Scott Hartnell’s skate on its way in. Blashill challenged for goaltender interference, but it’s not a good idea and the goal stands. 1-0 Nashville.

Detroit’s next shot on goal comes more than two minutes later on an Ericsson wrister from distance following a faceoff. Their next chance comes a bit after that as Mantha finds DeKeyser cutting in front of the net for a good backhand shot that Saros knocks down.

Nashville’s next chance also becomes their next goal. Roman Josi leads a rush, gets the puck back and takes advantage of being gifted a lot of space to move into a dangerous shooting location by Kronwall. Kyle Turris is waiting in front for the rebound that comes off the Josi shot and makes it 2-0 Nashville.

Things didn’t really improve from here, as Nashville continued to push the pace and tilt the ice and other ways of saying “play better than Detroit.”

The Wings did put some pressure on late, but also took a penalty with 30 seconds left in the period at the tail end of that pressure with Nyquist getting a sit in the sin bin for tripping.

The Period Summed Up: It was bad, Jim.

Score: 2-0 Predators

Shots: 15-8 Predators

Standout Players: Mantha, Ericsson

Sitdown Players: Jensen, Kronwall, Nyquist

Second Period

Detroit starts the period successfully killing the Nyquist penalty and gets to work trying to climb out of the hole they dug in the first. They do manage to put pretty good pressure on to start the period, but it doesn’t lead to much in the way of quality chances, as Nashville’s defense does well to maintain its structure.

And then the middle of the period devolved into kind of a boring slog with the Wings trying to press and Nashville icing it. Fortunately, a bit of excitement was just on the horizon as Arvidsson gets a breakaway chance that Howard sweeps away from him just before Dylan Larkin finds Athanasiou streaking behind the defense for a breakaway. A backhand-forehand deke moves Saros and he can’t get back to the post on time as AA makes it 2-1.

The Wings take momentum out of the goal and even tie up the shot counter before going on their first power play granted thanks to Emelin closing his hand on the puck in the Preds’ zone against a strong forecheck. The most-dangerous chance on this advantage comes just at the end as Frk feeds Nyquist in front for a shot at the crest of Saros.

Nashville’s next chance comes as Johansen knocks Jensen over to create a 2-on-1 chance that he also puts into the crest, followed briefly by AA almost tying it off a tough-angle rebound chance he bounces off the outside of the net. This seems to wake the Preds up a bit, as they carry play through the end of the period.

The Period Summed Up: Lots of Red Wings puck possession to the outside of the rink.

Score: 2-1 Nashville

Shots: 14-6 Wings (22-21 Detroit Overall)

Standout Players: Athanasiou, Larkin

Sitdown Players: Mantha?

Third Period

Mantha starts us off in the third with two very good scoring chances and three shots on his very first shift of the period only to see two kick-out saves by Saros and another simpler block for the netminder.

Mantha’s second shift started right where his first one left off as well, as yet another scoring chance had to be stopped by the shorter netminder on the Preds’ roster.

Just after, Viktor Arvidsson makes it 3-1 as the puck bounces over Jonathan Ericsson’s stick at center and springs him for a break that he finishes high glove on Howard.

Detroit gets a power play on the next shift as Austin Watson gets a timeout for running into Jimmy Howard (partially assisted by Ericsson being a bit late to deny him the lane to the net). At one point, the Wings’ PP setup has Frk in the slot, Nyquist at the net-front, and Mantha on the point. The 2nd unit comes out to finish things off and earns a greasy goal on a net-front scramble that Saros can’t control. Tatar hops in and sweeps a loose puck into the net. Laviolette challenges this one, but it stands on review (it’s a better challenge than Blashill’s). 3-2 Preds at this point.

Nyquist almost ties it up trying to bull his way through the defense on a delay move, but Saros finds the puck at the last minute and sweeps it aside. The Wings continue to push pace from here trying to take advantage of the crowd getting a bit livelier and perhaps the Preds’ energy waning on the back-to-back.

Two commercial breaks later and the pace kind of comes down a little, but AA-Larkin-Tatar continue to mix it up and create space. They’re just starting to make Saros look like the kind of guy you’d trade two conditional picks for if you were Philadelphia.

Detroit aggressively pulls Howard with two minutes left. With 30 seconds left, Abdelkader knocks Subban down and gets punched in the back of the head for his trouble. Subban goes for interference and he is very Subbangry about getting this penalty. Detroit can’t get a shot on net during the 6-on-4 advantage and the game ends before I have to fret about cheering over my team tying a hockey game.

The Period Summed Up: Fun period; fun process.

Score: 3-2 Predators Final

Shots: 14-8 Wings (36-29 Detroit Overall)

Standout Players: Mantha, Athanasiou, Nyquist

Sitdown Players: Ericsson

Closing Thoughts

The Kenny Cam that Fox Sports Detroit was running with Ken Daniels between the benches was a pretty fun gimmick. Oddly, I think that having Darren and Mickey sitting together works for the color commentary too, as they seemed to play off each other better and I thought their observations were pretty quality in this game.

I’m hoping we learn why Mantha lost shifts in the second period on the Zetterberg line because it didn’t look like he was dogging it when he was playing, so if Blashill was trying to teach him something, it wasn’t obvious to this observer why. Usually you can see reasons for it when it happens, so it was unusual. However, based on how he played the third, it’s kind of hard to argue with the results.

The goalie interference challenge by Blashill in the first period is one I’d be much more-forgiving about in the first portion of the season before the NHL specifically said they were essentially cracking down on goalie interference overturns for anything other than blatantly obvious misses by the refs. Even under the softer standard, that one should not have been challenged.

The ice at the LCA continues to be untrustworthy compared to what we got used to at the Joe. The Wings are learning to adjust to it, but bouncing/fluttering pucks in the third period are irritating.

Up next, Detroit will stay home to see the Sabres on Thursday night.