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Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 5:55 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Stuart says experience key to overcoming mistakes

DETROIT -- Brad Stuart isn't getting off the kind of start to these Stanley Cup Playoffs that he'd hoped to, but he's not going to dwell on the negatives that have happened to him or the Detroit Red Wings thus far.

Detroit trails its Western Conference Quarterfinal series 2-1 to the Nashville Predators, and every game has finished with a 3-2 score -- including Sunday's Game 3, in which Stuart was on the ice for two of the goals allowed. In all, he's also been on the ice for six of the eight goals Nashville has scored so far and is tied with Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin with a League-worst minus-4 rating.

"This time of year, any type of mistake can be the one that costs you the game," Stuart said on Monday. "The players that dwell on that are the ones that kind of tighten up and don't play their game. The other ones, who just go out and play, are the ones who have success this time of year. Mistakes are going to be made. There's no question. It's how you respond and how you deal with it that's important."

Stuart said he and his teammates who've been part of some mistakes in the first three games should be able to brush them off -- especially with Detroit's lineup featuring a lot of playoff-savvy veterans.

"This time of year the little things get talked about -- every little play, every little mistake could be the difference," Stuart said. "So, if you've had experience in dealing with that and know how to put it behind you, it's a lot more effective than dwelling on something and letting it affect the rest of your game."

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Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 4:55 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Lidstrom paired with White once more for Red Wings

DETROIT -- It happened during Game 3 Sunday of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series between the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock put 41-year-old star captain Nicklas Lidstrom back together with Ian White as the Wings' top defense pair, which had been the case for most of the season. After Lidstrom was injured blocking a shot and missed 11 games in March, White was forced to work with others on the blue line and wasn't a shoe-in to work with Lidstrom after he returned.

In fact, Babcock had been using the bigger Jonathan Ericsson with Lidstrom as the top pair after he also returned from a lengthy injury. That changed mid-game Sunday, though, with White taking the right point beside Lidstrom on the left once again -- which also was how they lined up during Monday's practice at Joe Louis Arena.

Babcock, however, cautioned against trying to predict how his lineup will look before or during the game.

"We like Ericsson and Lidstrom together on match-ups, too," Babcock said. "When we need the puck moved a little crisper … we thought [White] was having a good game."

Prior to Lidstrom's injury, he and White had plus/minus ratings in the upper 20s and were sitting near the top of the League in that stat.

In other apparent lineup switches Monday, veteran Danny Cleary worked as a top-six forward with star center Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen on the second line. That moved Todd Bertuzzi to the third line at right wing to work with center Justin Abdelkader and rookie Gustav Nyquist.

"All these questions you're asking about -- who's playing with who -- I'm going to go to the game and I'm going to watch, and whoever plays the best is going to play the most," Babcock said. "It doesn't matter to me what their name is.''
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Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 4:51 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Red Wings hope alarm clock rings for Game 4

DETROIT -- Red Wings coach Mike Babcock's most common terminology for getting off to a good start in games is "starting on time," but lately his team seems to be starting games by repeatedly hitting the snooze button.

Detroit has fallen behind in eight of its last night games, including the regular season and two of the first three games in its Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Nashville Predators. As a result, the Wings find themselves down 2-1 in the series heading into Game 4 Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC), a building where they lost 3-2 in Game 3 on Sunday after falling behind 2-0 before making a furious effort to come back.

"I thought someone told me it was like 80 percent of the time during the regular season when you score first you win, so I don't think that's any different now," Babcock said after Monday's practice. "It's a priority for everyone. You want to get started on time. We lost the first four faceoffs last night. That led to forechecks … any way you look at it, that leads to momentum. That probably leads to you taking a penalty and more momentum, so you got to start on time for sure and it's a priority each and every night.''

The Predators owned the faceoff battle early in Game 3, winning 75 percent of the draws through the first 15 minutes of the game and taking a 1-0 lead on Shea Weber's power-play goal just 2:48 into the game.

The Red Wings again struggled with committing early penalties in that game and it wound up costing them with not only Weber's goal, but lost puck possession and offensive flow. Johan Franzen was called for two slashing penalties in the second period, with the second one leading to a five-on-three Nashville power play.

The Red Wings killed it and actually gained some momentum from it, but that's not the ideal way Babcock wants his team to get its offense going -- especially playing without injured penalty-killing forwards Patrick Eaves and Darren Helm.

"When I look at the tape those are both penalties," Babcock said of the infractions by Franzen and Kyle Quincey to create Nashville's 23-second two-man advantage. "Stay out of the box. Real simple. It takes a ton of energy to play four against five. Normally we could have [Eaves and Helm]. They eat up a ton of those minutes, so now [Pavel Datsyuk] and [Henrik Zetterberg] are doing it. I'd rather have them shooting it in the net than keeping it out of the net, so it's a waste of energy just because I was careless with my stick. But the great thing about this stuff is we control all of it and we're going to fix it.''

If they don't, it could be more of the same as the two losses to the Predators -- both of which saw Detroit fall behind early while trying to find its footing following multiple penalties. That's why with a pivotal Game 4 on tap Tuesday, the Red Wings really are focusing on hearing the alarm this time.

"Both teams right now have teams that can really frustrate the opposing team [with a lead]," Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said. "It seems like right now, whoever scores first has the momentum throughout the game."
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Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 4:32 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Predators playing with lineup decisions

DETROIT -- Despite winning the third game of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday and taking a 2-1 series lead, Nashville coach Barry Trotz appeared to send a message in Monday's practice.

David Legwand, who had been centering the Predators' second line, was dropped to the fourth unit, with Matt Halischuk and Brandon Yip, with Nick Spaling moving to center of the second line, with Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov.

Forward Jordin Tootoo, who played his first game of the series Sunday, also appears to be out of the mix for Game 4 Tuesday in Detroit (7:30 p.m., NBCSN, CBC).

"We might just look to change things a little bit, a little different plan," Trotz said.
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Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 4:30 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Preds getting good production from their blue line

DETROIT -- Coming into this Western Conference Quarterfinal series, one of the key areas between the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators was on the back end.

Both teams tout active, productive two-way defense corps led by stars in the top pairing. So far, though, it's been the Predators receiving the bigger edge from their blue line. Nashville has gotten three goals and two assists from its defense, led by captain Shea Weber's two goals, while Detroit has gotten just one goal, by Ian White, and three assists.

It hasn't just been offensively, however. Weber and Ryan Suter are logging a lot of minutes without injured veteran Hal Gill playing, and the second two pairings also have contributed big plays and points.

"We try and chip in whenever we can," said Kevin Klein, who had a goal and an assist in Game 3, and also saved a sure game-tying goal by deflecting a shot with the shaft of his stick. "Obviously [Suter and Weber] carry most of the load offensively. They create so many opportunities while playing solid defense. They're two of the best defensemen in the world and we're lucky to have them."

Not just for the obvious reasons, either.

"It's nice for the next four or five guys to just fly under the radar and do our thing and let them get all the praise," Klein said. "It's good. It keeps the pressure off the young guys, too."

Star goalie Pekka Rinne helps the Predators' defense as well, but said Monday that it's a two-way street -- especially in Nashville's defense-oriented system.

"They've been our backbone for a long, long time and they're always there for us," Rinne said of his defensemen. "They're creating offense as well as making a lot of great defensive plays and blocking shots and giving our forwards pucks at full speed for good breakouts and all that stuff. It's a really big part of our team."
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Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 4:26 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Gill skates with Preds, still day-to-day

DETROIT -- Hal Gill skated in a full team practice Monday, the first time the Nashville Predators defenseman has done that since sustaining a lower-body injury blocking a shot in the second-to-last game of the regular season.

The 6-foot-7, 241-pound Gill -- who was acquired in February for his postseason experience and penalty-killing ability -- skated for about 30 minutes before leaving the ice at Joe Louis Arena prior to drills that involved more contact.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz said Gill is feeling better, but didn't shed much light on whether Gill will play in Game 4 of the Predators' Western Conference Quarterfinals series with the Detroit red Wings on Tuesday (7:30 p.m., NBCSN, CBC).

"He'll be just day-to-day and we'll see where he is [Tuesday]," Trotz said. "He said he felt a lot better. I said, 'Don't push it too hard.' He was fine. He actually stayed out there for quite a while."

Gill has missed the first three playoff games, plus the last game of the regular season, with the injury. Gill didn't speak with reporters following practice, but his teammates said they were hoping to get him back in the lineup for a pivotal game in the series, which Nashville leads 2-1.

"Hopefully he's feeling pretty good and he can get back in there and play for us soon," Predators center Mike Fisher said. "We're hoping."

When Gill was on the ice he was paired with Jack Hillen, while Francis Bouillon was teamed with rookie Ryan Ellis, who filled in for Gill in Game 3 Sunday. Kevin Klein and rookie Roman Josi worked Monday as Nashville's second pairing, behind the top duo of Ryan Suter and Shea Weber.
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 7:22 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Tough-luck day for rookie Emmerton

DETROIT -- Just one game after scoring his first career goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to help his team get a win, Detroit Red Wings rookie Cory Emmerton sat at his locker stall on Sunday afternoon soaking in a very different feeling.

The Red Wings lost Game 3 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals series against the Nashville Predators 3-2 at Joe Louis Arena and Emmerton wound up being the only guy on his team not to record a shot on goal.

Detroit launched a whopping 45 shots on goal, had 19 others blocked and missed the net 15 times, but it was a play by Nashville's Kevin Klein in the third that had Emmerton shaking his head a little bit.

Emmerton was about to cap a rush early in the third by putting home a rebound of Drew Miller's shot into a wide open net when Klein somehow blocked the shot from the low slot with just the shaft of his stick at the last second.

"We had a good breakout there, I tried to beat my guy up the ice and [Miller] did a good job," Emmerton said. "It was a tight spot to make a pass, so he passed up the pass and the puck went off the pads and I just tried to wire it. But the D-man just kind of did like a spin or something with his stick and I don't know how, but I hit him right in the middle of the shaft. It's unbelievable, but it's a tough break."
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 7:20 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Wings again unable to stay out of the box

DETROIT -- It's become a constant mantra now for the Detroit Red Wings, who've suddenly become prone to taking penalties in their first three games of a Stanley Cup Playoffs Quarterfinal series against Nashville.

Detroit has committed 20 penalties, served 43 minutes in the penalty box and given the Predators a whopping 16 power plays already -- including a costly one by Drew Miller just 1:35 into Sunday's 3-2 Game 3 loss at Joe Louis Arena.

Miller was called for goaltender interference on a one-man rush after it appeared he tried to stop and was nudged into Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.

"I for sure bumped into him, but it's not on purpose," said Miller, who went to the box and watched Shea Weber put the Preds up 1-0 at 2:48 of the first on Nashville's first power-play goal of the series. "It's skating as fast as I can down the ice to try to get to the puck and then shoot it at the net. So, I don't know if I was pushed from behind a little bit or what, or hit him hard. I couldn't even tell you."

Regardless of intent, it was just the start of another penalty-filled game for the Red Wings -- who wound up getting whistled for six infractions overall. Detroit finished the regular season behind only Nashville as the second least penalized team in the NHL, but suddenly has an issue with parading to the box.

It's starting to eat at the Red Wings, too -- whether they're taking their frustrations out on the calls or themselves.

"You've got to be more aware, but you can't use your stick, you can't tug someone [and] you can't, you know, interfere with someone," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "You've got to be a lot smarter and you've got to think about it, too. Sometimes you've got to take a penalty to stop the scoring chance, but just be more aware of what they're calling out there."

What the officials have called, however, is starting to be a touchy subject in the Detroit locker room. Several Red Wings players were asked leading questions about the officiating in the series overall, but none really took the bait a day after Johan Franzen had some harsh comments about it.

Franzen was also the recipient of two slashing calls on Sunday, with the first one leading to a Nashville 5-on-3 situation for almost half a minute in the second period.

"The regular season, we're not really that kind of team," Henrik Zetterberg said. "All of a sudden in the playoffs we get a lot of penalties. [The] PK's been good, but we knew it [wouldn't] last forever. They've got a good power play. If you keep giving them chances, they will eventually score."
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 7:17 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Wings continue to fall behind

DETROIT -- It's a disturbing trend that can't be ignored when talking about the Detroit Red Wings.

Including the final six games of the regular season plus their first three Stanley Cup Playoffs Quarterfinal series contests, the Red Wings have fallen behind eight times and had to fight their way back.

It happened again on Sunday against the Nashville Predators in Game 3 of Detroit's opening-round series and led to a 3-2 loss -- the same score as the first two games. The Wings also fell behind in Game 1 at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena and were scrambling late trying to tie it.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock said a big issue related to the trend is happening in the faceoff circle, where the Red Wings were beaten soundly in the first period on Sunday.

"I thought we had to win faceoffs off the start, we were 0-for-4 in our first faceoffs, so they got on top of us," Babcock said. "We'd like to do a better job in the faceoff circle. The team that wins the draw, ends with the forecheck and gets on top of the other team, so that's something we'd like to do better."

Plus, there's the whole matter of actually playing against somebody. The Predators are also adept at sitting on leads, which is what happened Sunday after Shea Weber potted a power-play goal 2:48 into the game and Kevin Klein scored early in the second for a 2-0 lead.

"The thing I find is the other team is trying, too," Babcock said. "You're trying to get off to a good start, they're trying to get off to a good start. They got the power play early and made us pay."

Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom agreed with his coach and said that continually chasing the lead is no way to win in the postseason.

"It's so much harder to score those goals [to tie it] and get those chances in the playoffs," he said. "They make it harder to get in front of the net. It just shows how playoff hockey is so different than the regular season."
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 6:36 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Ellis latest to fill in for injured Gill

DETROIT -- The Nashville Predators won a hard-fought 3-2 game at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday afternoon and did it with a pair of rookie defensemen on the back end.

Ryan Ellis joined fellow rookie Roman Josi in the starting lineup for Game 3 of a Stanley Cup Playoffs Quarterfinals series between the Predators and Detroit Red Wings -- which was his NHL playoffs debut.

Josi played in the first two games, while Ellis replaced Jack Hillen on Sunday in a continuing effort to replace veteran defenseman Hal Gill -- who missed his third playoff game and fourth game overall with a lower-body injury that happened blocking a shot in the second to last game of the regular season.

Ellis played just 7:50, but delivered three hits and had one of 19 blocked shots for the Preds.

"I was a little nervous," Ellis said. "It's quick out there, a faster pace than a regular game. It's nice to win. Whether it be big or small, it's better to win."

Like Josi, Ellis also made his NHL debut this season facing the Red Wings.

"It’s definitely nice to make the debut here," said Ellis, who played junior hockey just across the Detroit River for the OHL's Windsor Spitfires. "It would have been nice to play the first two, but whatever the team has to do to win. I’m just here to be a part of that."

Nashville coach Barry Trotz was just glad the talented rookie blueliner got his playoff debut out of the way.

"I thought he played pretty well," Trotz said. "He’s a young guy playing in 'The Joe.' I know he's from across the river, so I know he's very familiar with 'The Joe' and the atmosphere. I thought he played pretty well. He's one of the most intelligent players you'll come across. More than anything, he's a winner. He's been a winner at every level. I was real happy for his first game. I know he was excited, but I don't think he gets too rattled. He was very composed."
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Quote of the Day

It's pretty crazy, but believe me when I say we didn't draft these players with the mindset we had to because they had good hockey-playing dads. It just turned out that way. But we're certainly glad they're a part of our organization.

— Arizona Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt regarding the coincidence that six of the organization's top prospects are sons of former NHL players