Time: 7:00 PM EST
Place: Little Caesars Arena
TV: ESPN+, HULU
Radio: WXYT-97.1 FM
Predators Blog: On The Forecheck
The Red Wings square off tonight with their old Central Division rival the Nashville Predators. This marks the first matchup between the clubs this season. Nashville is in a fight for a wildcard spot with a 13-10-1 record. They have alternated between wins and losses lately without stringing any strong or poor stretches together, they are 5-5-0 in their last 10 including an OT win over Montreal on Saturday. Detroit on the other hand is riding a 5 game winning streak following Seider’s heroics against the Islanders on Saturday. Detroit has used their recent hot streak to tighten their grasp on a wildcard spot at the moment.
Detroit continues to punch above their weight at the 25 GP mark, even without one Tyler Bertuzzi who remains out the next couple of games on COVID protocol. It’s hard to believe that despite missing Vrana all season and Bertuzzi for a significant chunk of games the Red Wings have remained in contention this far into the season.
A significant driver of that has obviously been the play of their rookies Seider, Raymond, and Nedeljkovic. Raymond continues to lead the team in points with 22 while Seider leads the back end with 17 points and only trails Filip Hronek in ice time with the rookie averaging 22:32 per game and is already the team’s best defenseman. Nedeljkovic has shown he can be a reliably consistent goaltender. So far this season in 14 starts he has had a SV% below .900 only 3 times. His overall SV% is .920 which is good for 8th among goalies who have more than 10 starts this season.
Detroit will have to manage with a battered blue line again as despite Danny DeKeyser supposedly returning to the lineup, they will lose Marc Staal (COVID protocol) and Gustav Lindstrom (lower body) from their roster tonight. In practice yesterday DeKeyser was skating with Seider, with the Hronek-Leddy pairing remaining intact, and the unit was rounded out by Oesterle with the recalled Renouf.
The forward lines in practice remained unchanged from the game against the Islanders with Fabbri taking Bertuzzi’s spot on the top line, and Veleno riding with the second line.
Detroit’s opponent tonight, Nashville, is backed by the steady play of Juuse Saros whose numbers have been right on part with Nedeljkovic’s through the quarter pole. Saros has been consistent for the Predators for the last 3 seasons as he took over for Pekka Rinne. Beating the Preds starts with finding ways to get the puck past Saros.
Up front the Predators are led by a resurgent Matt Duchene returning to form that he hasn’t shown in years. He is averaging a point per game with 24 points, nearly doubling his total points last year when he played 34 games. At 30 years old he could be on pace for a career year. The playmaking center helping Duchene has been Mikael Granlund who actually has outpaced Duchene with 26 points, but only 5 goals. Rounding out the top line is Filip Forsberg who is also over a point per game with 16 points in 15 games. Carrying the second line and most of the Predators secondary scoring is Ryan Johansen with 19 points who has had a comeback year similar to Duchene after a couple of tough seasons. There’s a big drop off after that front the ret of the forward group for Nashville.
The Nashville blue line is carried by the still Norris-calibre defenseman Roman Josi. He has 21 points in 24 games. The Preds also lean on Dante Fabbro who is paired with Josi, and veteran Mattias Ekholm who have been steady for them. Nashville’s defense isn’t as deep and threatening as it was just a few years ago but it remains a steady unit at least.
Detroit looks to remain hot against the Predators and extend their best winning streak in a very long time.