If the Nashville Predators can play tonight like they did for 59 minutes and 50 seconds in Detroit on February 17, it’s safe to say head coach Barry Trotz will be satisfied.
Nashville outperformed the Red Wings for significant stretches of that game but lost 2-1 on Pavel Datsyuk’s goal with 5.8 seconds left in regulation.
“We learned a tough lesson in Detroit,” Trotz said after his team’s practice Friday. “We should have at least come out with a point. We ended up with zero.”
Given that Red Wings and Predators are now ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Western Conference standings, Trotz sees tonight’s game as an opportunity his team must seize to close the current six-point gap between the clubs and secure as high a playoff seed as possible.
Detroit, which won 4-3 over the L.A. Kings Friday night at Joe Louis Arena, has been dealing with a lot of injuries. Key names like Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard have missed time and are expected to be out of the lineup again tonight in Nashville. But no one in the Predators’ locker room is expecting an easier match-up as a result.
“I think that’s one of their keys to their success, being able to step up when they have injuries,” said Nashville left wing Nick Spaling
, who scored the lone Nashville goal in the Feb. 17 game. “It’s still going to be a tough game and they’re not a team you can take for granted at all.”
To Spaling’s point, Trotz said he was going to use Saturday’s late-morning meetings to make sure his club approaches the game with the right mindset.
“One thing we’ll talk about this morning is that they do have a tradition of winning and they are going to work,” he said. “They have workers in right now. If you think it’s going to be easy playing against Darren Helm or Justin Abdelkader—it’s hard to play against Datsyuk but he’s a little bit different animal. What’s happening is they are rallying as a group and they’re going to come with an all-in effort.”