Predators try to go up 2-0 on Wings
Thursday, 04.12.2012 / 5:52 PM
RED WINGS at PREDATORS
(Nashville leads best-of-seven series, 1-0)
TV: CNBC, CBC, RDS2, FS-D (HD), SPSO (HD)
Big Story: Rather than talking about the big 3-2 victory for Nashville in Game 1, most of the off-day chatter centered on Predators defenseman Shea Weber ramming Henrik Zetterberg's head into the end boards right after the final horn sounded. Many felt Weber would get a suspension of a game or two, but the League opted to fine him and let that stand as the lone punishment. The hit, however, now provides a bit of a side story for the rest of the series to see if the Red Wings try to exact some revenge physically or merely on the scoreboard. If they choose the latter option, as Game 1 showed, it won't be easy. Pekka Rinne and Nashville's defense were stout and the Preds won the opening game the way most figured they'd triumph this postseason -- outmuscling Detroit and shutting down the Red Wings for most of the game.
Red Wings: As if the Game 1 loss weren't bad enough, Detroit also lost speedy third-line center Darren Helm with severed tendons in his left wrist -- he'll miss the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- in his first game after an MCL sprain that kept him out of the final 10 regular-season games. After delivering a hit to Nashville's Alexander Radulov, Helm's arm came straight down on Radulov's skate blade and he left immediately. Helm needed surgery to repair the tendons on Wednesday night and is expected to be ready for training camp next fall. However, that leaves Detroit with more holes in its lineup, both at center on the third line and on the top penalty-killing unit. The good news is that even without Helm, the Wings killed off 25 of 25 power plays in the last seven games of the season before fending off all six they faced against Nashville in Game 1.
"It's tough for the kid," Babcock said of Helm. "I mean, he's a great kid. He plays hard, he's an important part of our team. It's the same thing as the Weber incident … this incident. What do you do? You move on and you get ready for another game. We've got to win a game here [Friday]."
Predators: Nashville had to be breathing a big sigh of relief when it was announced that Weber wouldn't be suspended for the incident against Zetterberg, for which he was assessed a roughing penalty for despite the game being over. The Preds' top defense tandem of Ryan Suter and Weber was very good in helping Nashville contain Detroit's attack, especially star center Pavel Datsyuk, who didn't record a point and finished with a minus-1 rating. Meanwhile, Gabriel Bourque scored a pair of goals to lead the way offensively - including the eventual game-winner at 11:35 of the third.
"It's always like that," Rinne said of the blue-collar offensive effort by the Preds. "A guy like [Bourque] comes up big - guys who aren't the biggest names yet, but they are a crucial part of your team."
Who's Hot: Rinne stopped 35 of 37 shots to get the victory in Game 1, while Bourque scored a pair of goals and finished with a plus-2 rating to go with four shots on goal for Nashville. Veteran center Paul Gaustad, whom Nashville picked up at the trade deadline, also had a goal and won 12 of 20 faceoffs (60 percent).
Injury Report: Patrick Eaves (concussion/injured reserve), Joey MacDonald (back) and Helm (wrist surgery) are all out for the Red Wings; … Nashville defenseman Hal Gill (lower body) is questionable.
Stat Pack: Detroit and Nashville combined for 17 penalties in Game 1 - seven by the Red Wings and 12 by the Predators - after finishing the season as the League's two least penalized teams.
Suter and Weber have each played in every playoff game that Nashville has played the past three postseasons; Rinne went 14-0-2 in the regular season when making 35 saves or more; Bourque is just the third rookie in the past 14 playoffs to score two goals in his NHL postseason debut, joining teammate Radulov (2007) and Washington's Mike Green (2008); Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom
is two points away from tying Steve Yzerman for the most in Wings' playoff history (185) and is two goals from tying Denis Potvin for most playoff goals in NHL history by a defenseman (56).