If the Red Wings “flip the switch” in this series, it could be over in 4. If they don’t “flip the switch” in this series, it could be over in 4. I’m going to avoid the urge to predict which team will show up because there’s just no way for me to tell. Instead, I’ll look at stats and head-to-head match ups to see if we can figure out how this series will go.
Make the jump to read my preview:
Nashville has come a long way since previous match ups between them and Detroit. I was never afraid of Nashville as a team, yet I don’t recall any games where Detroit blew them away. They’ve always found a way to keep the game close enough so that a fortunate bounce or a PP could make the difference. In that sense, they’re still that team, but now they have serious talent throughout their lineup. They also have a really good coach. We make fun of him for having no neck (Rightfully so. The man has no neck!) but at the end of the day, he’s a great coach.
Nov 26, 2011: NSH 1 vs DET 4
Dec 15, 2011: DET 3 vs NSH 4
Dec 26, 2011: DET 4 vs NSH 1
Feb 17, 2012: NSH 1 vs DET 2
Mar 10, 2012: DET 2 vs NSH 3
Mar 30, 2012: NSH 4 vs DET 1
Advantage: Even, though Nashville is 2-0 since the trade deadline.
The experts say that Nashville has the edge in goal in this series and they could be right. When Rinne and Howard are both in “God Mode” Rinne is better. But when both are just being themselves on a night in night out basis, Howard has nearly identical or better stats. Howard’s GAA is 2.13 compared to Rinne’s 2.39. Howard’s sv% is .920 and Rinne’s is .923. Howard has one more shutout than Rinne, but played nearly 20 fewer games due to his injury.
Advantage: Depends. If Rinne is in the zone, he’s better than Howard in the zone. If not, Howard is better. Also, remember that last year at this time, everyone was saying that Bryzgolov was better than Howard and anything said to the contrary was foolish.
Weber is going to be a pain to play against. He’s one of the best defensemen in the league, plays physical, he’s strong and of course has that cannon of a shot. Then there’s Suter who is a great shutdown guy. But we have Lidstrom and whoever is playing with him. I’d also take Stuart and Kronwall over Nashville’s second pairing of Josi and Gill. Of course, there will be at least one instance in this series where Gill will tackle Datsyuk and not get called while Kronwall will place his hand on Radulov’s back and sit for 2 minutes. As for our third pairing, that depends on how smart Quincy plays with White.
I like our depth and experience when healthy. Cleary is going to play hurt, so we’re already at a disadvantage there. Helm won’t be in game 1 so that sucks. Nyquist will probably be on the 4th line and won’t see any PP minutes. Nashville now has Radulov, the ultimate rental player. They have the Kostitsyn brothers and Paul Gaustad now. Then again, Martin Erat leads the team in points. On paper, Detroit is better at forward.
I want to like Mike Babcock again, but I feel that he has lost this team. On the other hand, Trotz has Nashville believing, correctly, that they are contenders. Babcock will have to step his game up in order to close the gap, but for right now…
Detroit has been here before. They’ve been the road team in game 1. They’ve played tough opponents they were not supposed to beat. But Nashville has never been here before. As it stands right now, they should win this series and they know it.
WTF? Who are you?:
For Nashville, it’s Radulov. We didn’t have to play against him all year until that last game and he was good. Very good. And we have Nyquist who gives Detroit yet another offensive weapon that teams will forget about from time to time. Whether he is used properly remains to be seen, but even if Babcock puts him on the top two lines and gives him PP minutes…
On paper, it’s Nashville. But come playoff time, the Wings start hitting. It’s part of the switch we’re all hoping they flip. Datsyuk will start finishing all checks, Abby will destroy guys and Kronwall… I’ve got money on Erat spending time in the quiet room.
Advantage: We’ll see
The first game is Wednesday night in Nashville. The puck drops at 8:00 EST. Detroit is not supposed to win this series. Nashville is too big, too strong, too determined. They’ve got so much to play for. Impress Suter and Weber. Win for their long-time coach. Win for themselves. Earn respect. Detroit has no chance. Not a single effing chance.
Oh yeah, forgot about that guy.
Wings in 6.