We are just minutes away from the most important game of the Red Wings’ season, Game 2 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series with Nashville.
The Red Wings, 3-2 losers Wednesday night, will look to even the series at one game apiece shortly after 7:30 p.m. tonight at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The game can be seen locally on FSN Detroit and CBC and nationally on CNBC.
Going back to Detroit in an 0-2 hole isn’t exactly a recipe for success in the playoffs, which makes coming away with a win tonight so critical.
Now the bad news: As everyone knows, Shea Weber was not suspended for his WWE-style head slam on Henrik Zetterberg. Then Darren Helm was lost for the playoffs after undergoing surgery for a wrist injury sustained during Wednesday’s game. He’ll be replaced by Gustav Nyquist.
But the big talk tonight will be whether or not someone from Detroit will be looking for retribution on Weber. The Red Wings aren’t exactly the most physical team in the world, nor is there even a goon on the roster. If someone is planning on some sort of retribution, it has to be early. Just get it over and done with. There’s no point in dragging it out all game and getting out of position trying to put a body on him. The Wings are smart enough not to do that. It’s safe to say the majority of Wings fans want some form of justice since the NHL passed on the opportunity. Who will it be?
The big key for Detroit tonight is getting Pavel Datsyuk going. He and linemates Valtteri Filippula and Todd Bertuzzi were almost invisible during Game 1. On defense, Brad Stuart had a less-than-stellar performance Wednesday. He’ll need to rebound, as well. All four need to produce if the Red Wings want to get back home tied 1-1.
Jimmy Howard will start in goal for the Wings. He was stellar Wednesday, making several key saves to keep the team in it. Pekka Rinne showed that quick glove hand on multiple occasions Wednesday and will get to do it again tonight as he will get the nod for Nashville.
Detroit keys to victory:
- Get Datsyuk going: If Datsyuk starts rolling, Nashville is going to have a hard time containing him. We’ve seen what he’s done to Weber and Ryan Suter this season. He is the biggest key offensively for the Wings tonight.
- Avoid unnecessary penalties: Say what you want about the officials Wednesday, but Detroit took far too many penalties and played with fire (Nashville’s No. 1-ranked power play) way too much. The Predators will start cashing in if the Wings keep giving them chances.
- Win the battles behind the net: Twice we saw Nashville score Wednesday after the Red Wings failed to control a puck behind their own net. That cannot happen tonight. Strong play in their own end will lead Detroit to victory.
Stay with us all night for the latest updates on tonight’s game.