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."