POSTED ON Friday, 04.20.2012 / 8:42 PM
In what has become the norm for the series, we have another tight game heading into the third period, with Nashville tallying one in the first period tonight and Detroit answering with one in the second period. So, down to the third period we go....

THREE MUSINGS:
A Tale Of Two Periods -- Nashville was dominant in the first half of the period, especially the first six minutes or so, generating four A+ scoring chances ... and that was with opening the frame shorthanded for the first 26 seconds. Detroit held the upper-hand in the back half of the period, getting the lone goal of the period (the game's equalizer) and re-establishing their puck possession game in the Nashville end of the ice.

Original Pred Shining -- David Legwand has been extremely strong in tonight's game. The subject of the coaching staff's ire for five of the six periods in Detroit, Legwand created Nashville's first period goal with a strong steal on the forecheck. He nearly added a second assist in similar fashion, winning a one-on-one battle three minutes in the Period 2 along the boards deep in the offensive end to create a great a dangerous sequence for the Preds.

Mental Mistakes -- Nashville had two minor mental breakdowns that resulted in Detroit's goal. The sequence started a few shifts earlier with an unforced icing call on the Preds which flipped the territorial edge in the Wings favor; off the icing Detroit strung together strong shifts. On the goal itself, Hudler was able to get inside positioning on his defensive mark and won the race to the loose puck because of it for the poke-in goal.
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POSTED ON Friday, 04.20.2012 / 7:54 PM
The Preds lines at the start of the game (in order of first five-on-five shift)
    Fisher centering Erat and S. Kostitsyn
    Gaustad centering Smith and Yip
    Spaling centering Hornqvist and A. Kostitsyn
    Legwand centering Bourque and Radulov

Defense pairings:
    Suter and Weber
    Josi and Klein
    Bouillon and Ellis


THREE MUSINGS:
What a Shot -- Heck of a play by Legwand on the forecheck to create the game's opening goal, but wow, what a shot by Radulov. The puck was off Radulov's stick seemingly before it even got to his blade ... and was perfectly placed into the upper corner. That play was textbook example why the Preds were so excited to get Radulov back in the fold this season.

Zone Time -- Nashville dominated offensive zone possession time in the first period. Detroit's strength is puck possession and offensive zone time, but the Preds reversed the script on the Wings in the first frame, a big reason why Nashville enjoyed a 10-8 lead in shots on goal --- and 23-13 in shots attempted --- in the first. 

Clearing Plays -- The Preds were near-perfect on defensive zone clears in the first period, misfiring on only one attempt in the frame. And even on that play, Nashville quickly regained possession of the puck and successfully skated the play out of the zone. By contrast, in Game 4, Nashville had seven failed clearing attempts in the first period, including five in the game's first three minutes of play. Puck decisions around the two bluelines has been a point of emphasis for Coach Trotz and staff during practices --- being smart with the puck around the offensive blueline to prevent quick counter attacks and being strong on plays around the defensive blueline to prevent extended opponent pressure.


Added note: Martina McBride performing on the band stage in the Arena during the first intermission. Pretty cool side concert with your playoff ticket!
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POSTED ON Friday, 04.20.2012 / 2:10 PM
Friday morning, the Nashville Predators seemed well aware of the task at hand, facing the Detroit Red Wings Friday night in Game 5 with a chance to clinch the best-of-seven series on home ice. Around the locker room players told members of the media variations on the same mantra: The fourth win in a series is the hardest.

“If we’re going to beat them we have to match the intensity,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “They’re going to be playing desperate. Obviously it’s a win or die situation for them and we know that. We have to come out and match it.”

Defenseman Hal Gill, who’s recovering from a lower body injury, skated longer than most of the Preds who hit the ice Friday and was not in attendance for the team’s penalty kill meeting. Those indications that he would not be returning to the lineup for Game 5 were confirmed when head coach Barry Trotz said Gill was out during his morning press conference.

In a funny exchange with reporters who were trying to glean any info they could before hearing from Trotz, Gill was asked if he would be able to play if the game were to start in 10 minutes. “I’m starving, so probably not,” Gill replied.

The Predators are confident that a sold-out and raucous Bridgestone Arena crowd can give them an opportunity to get an early jump on the visiting Red Wings. And they don’t want to give the Red Wings—who came back from a 3-0 deficit against San Jose last year to force a Game 7—any life in this series if they can help it.

“We’ve never had a 3-1 lead [in a playoff series],” defenseman Kevin Klein said after Thursday’s practice. “We need to capitalize on it [Friday] and take advantage of our home ice. Really come out in the first 10 and show them that we mean business.

“Detroit’s going to be good. We need to be better.”
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POSTED ON Friday, 04.20.2012 / 1:47 PM
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POSTED ON Friday, 04.20.2012 / 12:57 PM
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POSTED ON Thursday, 04.19.2012 / 8:20 PM
Preds broadcasters Tom Callahan and Stu Grimson broke down the first four games of the Western Conference Quarterfinals Series between the Preds and Red Wings.

The Offenses:


The Defenses:


The Goaltenders:

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 8:28 PM
Game remained scoreless through two periods and while Detroit had a 17-3 shots advantage in the period, the scoring chances were still fairly even. Nashville may well have had more scoring chances than shots on goal in the period, including a partial breakaway by Shea Weber with 7:15 left in the frame that was poked checked off his stick and a great pass from Radulov to Fisher 4:10 into the frame that Fisher was unable to handle resulting in a shot wide.

THREE MUSINGS FROM THE PERIOD:
New Line Combinations -- The Preds shuffled lines in the second period with:
    Fisher centering Erat and Radulov
    Spaling centering the Kostitsyn Brothers
    Legwand centering Bourque and Hornqvist
    (Gaustad remained centering Halischuk and Yip)


Starting To Click -- The Erat-Fisher-Radulov trio started to generate some offensive looks later in the period. Erat and Radulov are both dangerous, creative offensive players and Fisher is a solid "North/South" player to complement the creative wingers. Keep an eye on them in the third period. Those three accounted for six of Nashville's 20 shot attempts through the first two periods.


Slow Start To The Period -- It took Nashville nine minutes before the Preds first shot on goal, but it resulted in a quality scoring chance --- with Gaustad (in for the faceoff) winning a draw to spring the outlet with Fisher and Erat and then finding Fisher high in the center slot for a tricky snapshot with traffic in front of the net. To be fair, Detroit only had one real good scoring chance in the opening half of the period itself, the result of a Nashville turnover on a clearing attempt which led to a scrum in the goal crease.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 7:29 PM
The Preds lines at the start of the game (in order of first shift)
    Legwand centering A. Kostitsyn and Radulov
    Fisher centering Erat and S. Kostitsyn
    Gaustad centering Halischuk and Yip
    Spaling centering Bourque and Hornqvist

Defense pairings:
    Suter and Weber
    Josi and Klein
    Bouillon and Ellis


THREE MUSINGS:
Spaling -- Nick Spaling had a very good first period. His line was responsible for three of Nashville's four/five best five-on-five chances in the period. Spaling also drew both Nashville power-plays, taking the elbow from Bertuzzi and being tripped on the PK by Datsyuk (great one-on-one battle win by Shea Weber just seconds before Datsyuk's penatly to win puck possession for the Preds).

Special Teams -- Nashville's penalty kill went a perfect three-for-three in the first period. The Preds also were able to keep up with the Wings during a pair of four-on-four situations. Nashville's power-play was unable to convert on two abbreviated chances, but the first PP opp generated a pair of quality sequences.

Clearing the Zone -- By my unofficial count, the Preds had 7 unforced failed clears in the first period (discounting the attempts under duress or rushed passes by a forecheck), however five of those seven occurred in the first three minutes of the game, the sixth failed clear resulted in a great scoring chance for Filppula and then the first Nashville penalty on the same sequence. The second half of the period, though, Nashville was nearly perfect on its clearing attempts.
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 6:07 PM
Preds have 20 skaters out for pregame warmups (in numerical order)
  Forwards (13): Erat, Legwand, Fisher, Spaling, Smith, Yip, Halischuk, Hornqvist, Gaustad, Anderi Kostitsyn, Radulov, Bourque, Sergei Kostitsyn
  Defensemen (7): Weber, Klein, Suter, Hillen, Ellis, Bouillon, Josi


Three quick takeaways from morning skate conversations...
Weather the early storm --- Joe Louis Arena is likely going to be loud at the outset and the Red Wings will look to feed off that emotion for a fast start. Nashville needs to stay disciplined, stay to the game plan, and survive the surge through the first television timeout; after then the game should settle in. At the same time, there's a nervous pall in the air at The Joe tonight; an early lead by the Preds and things will get very tight for the hometown crowd; fans here aren't used to seeing the hometeam lose, especially during the playoffs, but Nashville has won in four of its last seven trips to The Joe since the start of the 2010-11 season (including the Game 3 playoff win) and seven of its last 13 going back to '08-09.

Clear the zone ---
Nashville struggled getting the puck out of the zone at times in Game 3. The Preds need to improve tonight; it will help limit Detroit's shots and scoring chances. Additionally, it will help the Preds maintain regular line changes and allow the coaches to more easily roll all four lines on a consistent basis, which should pay dividends later in the game.

Special teams --- The Preds have held the upper hand in five-on-five situations through the first three games of the series, but the Red Wings have held the edge in specialty situations. Nashville is 1-of-16 on the power-play, while Detroit is 3-of-14. The Wings have also scored one four-on-four goal. In contrast, the Preds have out-scored the Wings 7-to-3 during five-on-five play. Nashville's power-play has had several great chances, but -- outside of Weber's goal to open the scoring in Game 3 -- has been unable to find the back of the net; still the Preds players and coaches say they feel like the power-play is close to exploding ... a multi-goal performance from the power-play tonight would put the PP percentage closer to its success rate from the regular season when Nashville lead the league at 21.6%.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 1:08 PM
Tom Callahan and Stu Grimson update the action after morning skates today --- from the shadows of the Gordie Howe statue inside Joe Louis Arena...

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HOME
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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43

 
 

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