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Game Day: Red Wings vs. Preds

by Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(34-15-11) Detroit Red Wings vs. Nashville Predators (41-14-7)
  2 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Nissan Pregame: 1:30 P.M.

The Nashville Predators are set to close out their current three-game home stand with an afternoon matinee today against former Central Division rival, the Detroit Red Wings. It's the final of two meetings between the clubs this season with Detroit claiming a 5-2 win on Jan. 17.

Saturday's afternoon game against the Wings is Nashville's seventh matinee matchup this season and its fifth this month. The Preds have a record of 5-0-1 in afternoon games, including back-to-back afternoon game wins on Feb. 7 and 8.

On the season, the Predators are 16-6-2 against Eastern Conference opponents and 11-1-0 against them on home ice. Saturday's game against Detroit is the Preds last game in February, a month where the team played 10 of 15 games against Eastern Conference opponents. In the first nine February Eastern Conference games, the Preds went 7-1-1, which includes a 4-0-0 mark at home.

All six of the Nashville defensemen that dressed for Thursday's game against Minnesota were drafted and developed by the team. Nashville's defensive corps leads the League in both goals (47) and points (155) this season. Of Nashville's 62 games this season, there have only been six games where a member of the team's blue line has not recorded at least a point.

Overall, the Preds have three defensemen in the NHL's Top 25 in blueliner scoring in Roman Josi, Shea Weber and Cody Franson. Franson's 16 power-play points put him in the Top 10 among NHL defensemen in the category. Defensive partners Josi and Weber have a cumulative 86 points this season, the most by any defensive duo in the League.

Craig Smith's goal in the second period on Thursday in Minnesota was his 20th tally of the season, making him the third Nashville player to notch 20 this season (James Neal, Filip Forsberg), three shy of the franchise record of six, set in 2006-07. Smith reached the 20-goal plateau for the second year in a row with the tally and has eight points in his last seven games.

Pekka Rinne is tied for the NHL lead with 35 wins this season and is second in the NHL in both save percentage (.930) and goals-against average (2.03). Filip Forsberg leads the team in points with 52 and has 13 points in his last 19 games. Mike Ribeiro has 39 assists this season, first on the team and tied for eighth in the League.

Pavel Datsyuk leads the Wings on offense with 50 points this season, including 22 goals. Tomas Tatar is tops on the team in goals with 24 and Henrik Zetterberg has dished out 34 helpers on the campaign. Gustav Nyquist has also hit the 20-goal mark this season for the Wings, potting 21 to go along with 44 points. Jimmy Howard is back in net for the Wings after missing time earlier this season due to injury. Howard is 18-8-9 on the season, owning a 2.23 goals-against average that is eighth in the NHL.

After meeting at least four times in each of the first 14 seasons of the Predators existence, this is just the fourth meeting between the two squads since the NHL's conference realignment prior to the 2013-14 campaign. The Preds have won two of the three matchups between the team as out-of-conference foes.

The Red Wings are 17-10-4 away from home this season and are 3-1-1 in their last five games. Nashville holds the League's best home record at 26-4-1 and is 7-2-1 in their past 10 outings.
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