Carrie Underwood, who is married to Nashville's Mike Fisher. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Round 1 Preview: (5) Wings vs (4) Predators


Now that the 82 game exhibition schedule is out of the way, it’s time to get ready for some real hockey!  I posted my brief NHL Playoff preview/puns galore on Sunday, and now it’s time for an in-depth preview for the Red Wings and Predators.  Let’s do this!

OVERALL

The Red Wings have two main goals in this series:

  1. To win four games before Nashville
  2. Make Shea Weber and Barry Trotz get into a fight so that the Wings can sign Weber and I can be happy

 

While we will be covering more of the first point, I would like to admit up front that even as a huge Wings fan, I have a hardcore man-crush on Shea Weber.  It’s not an obsession or anything (yet), but it is there and I will do whatever is necessary to get him into a Wings uniform.  WHATEVER IS NECESSARY.

Now that I’ve successfully made things awkward around here, I’ll get to the point.  This should be a fantastic series.  Nashville has an elite coach to go along with an excellent GM and organizational structure.  The Wings?  Same.  Nashville plays a very strict defensive system that minimizes opportunities of their opponents.  The Wings play a puck-possession style that utilizes their skill to create opportunities.  Nashville has a mercenarious (is that even a word?) Russian forward, who doesn’t know what the word “loyalty” means.  The Wings have a triangle-headed Russian forward who is too busy dangling to learn how to pronounce “loyalty” correctly.  I just cannot wait until Wednesday at about 8:07pm.  Playoffs!

GOALTENDING

Fun fact:  When you are talking about Nashville’s goalie, Pekka Rinne, you always say his full name.  You don’t say “Rinne with a great save!”, you say “and Pavel Datsyuk makes Pekka Rinne cry!”.  Pekka Rinne is a top 5 goaltender in the NHL, no question about it.  Jimmy Howard was top 5 to start the year, but struggled with injures in the second half.  He’s played pretty solid through his injuries, so if he can just up his game to early season form, it should be a good battle.  Both goalies have never made it out of the second round, so it’s tough to say who is the “better” playoff performer.  I’m going to give the edge to Pekka Rinne here, but Howard is no chump and could win this series for the Wings.  Advantage: Nashville

DEFENSE

Here’s what I hope to be saying in a season or two: “Lidstrom and Weber on the same team. W-I-N-N-I-N-G”.  They’re both really good at hockey.  One is perfect, the other is a complete and total beast.  The Preds have Ryan Suter, is also really good.  Although, remember that one time where Pavel made him look like a two year old?  Oh, you don’t?  Watch the video below to remind yourself!

Oh man, great times.  Suter would be the second best defenseman on the Wings.  However, after Suter and Weber, Nashville’s defense drops off quite a bit.  I know Hal Gill is really tall, but he and Holmstrom have the same skating technique: go really slow and hope you don’t fall.  The Wings have a solid back end along with Nick.  Kronwall, Stuart, White, and Ericsson are pretty solid.  Looks like Quincey is number 6 over Kindl due to Kindl’s bad turnovers against the Blues on the 4th of this month.  I think the Wings D is just a little deeper and stronger overall.  Thanks, Nick!  Advantage: Wings

REALLY HOT WIFE

Emma Andersson (Zetterberg) vs Carrie Underwood (Mike Fisher).  Emma won the Swedish version of Survivor, apparently released one (failed) CD, and was a TV host before moving to Michigan with Hank (according to her Wikipedia page).  Carrie won American Idol and is really popular and makes a boatload of money by singing really horrible songs.  While both are very attractive, I would pick Emma if it were only based on that and I made NHL money, because that’s one choice I get to make all the time in my everyday life  (sidenote:  ugh).  Advantage: Wings AND Preds.  Disadvantage: Everybody who is not married to Emma or Carrie.

COACHING

The Frog Man vs The Perfect Hair.  I think Trotz is the best coach in the NHL.  The fact that Nashville is a pretty consistent performer while having minimal amounts of top-level NHL talent shows what he can do.  Now that he has some actual NHL players on his team, it could be dangerous.  Babcock also knows what he is doing, and is always good for a nice quote or two.  Tough call here.  Advantage:  Even

FORWARDS

The Wings have a rather deep forward unit.  With the best all around forward in the league (Datsyuk), the player who only gives a crap during playoffs (Franzen) and BEAST MODE HANK (Zetterberg), it’s tough to match up against the Wings up front.  Nashville has improved greatly up front, when they used to only have Legwand and a couple of other dudes with sticks.  They have both the Kostitsyns, Mr Carrie Underwood, and Alex Radulov (who has won the KHL MVP in the past).  I think the Wings have better top end scoring, plus if the third and fourth lines can remember how to play hockey, it will be a great boost.  Advantage: Wings

SPECIAL TEAMS

Nashville has Shea Weber’s shot on the power play.  I just hope he doesn’t use Joe Louis Arena’s bouncy boards that Pierre McGuire will remind us about 57 times each period.  In case you are a Wings fan that lives under a rock, the Wings power play sucks and Nashville’s power play in awesome.  The Wings PK is good (thanks, Big E!) and Helm should be back soon (game one?).  The Preds also have a good PK to match with the Wings horrible power play.  This one is obvious based on the regular season.  Advantage: Nashville

X-Factor

The Wings have Gustav Nyquist.  The Predators do not.  Even though Nyquist might not even play, he still rules.  You already knew this if you’ve read my posts on this blog before or have ever met me in person.  Nyquist rules.  Advantage: Me

PREDICTION

This should be a great series – second best after Pitt/Philly.  As much as I want a Wings sweep, that ain’t going to happen.  I obviously cannot pick against the Wings, so I’m going Wings in 6.

Agree?  Not so much?  You know the drill – yell at me on Twitter.  GO WINGS!!

Tags: Gustav Nyquist Playoffs