Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images
The last time the Red Wings and Nashville matched up, the Predators were not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. It was the unveiling of Filip Forsberg and the Predators would fall 3-0 in front of a sold-out crowd at 501 Broadway.
The Red Wings win over the Kings puts them in the final spot for playoff consideration, but Columbus is still only one point behind them. The Red Wings will give everything they have to get every possible point, the Predators can only play spoiler to their hated rival before sending them off to another conference.
Former Predator Jordin Tootoo scored one of the three goals in the 3-1 win over the Kings that pushed Detroit into the eighth and final spot with two games remaining on their schedule. The game Thursday night against the Predators comes on the back end of a back-to-back and the last of a three game home stretch where Detroit has won two. In fact, Detroit has only three regulation losses in the month of April with a record of 5-3-3.
Jimmy Howard has been impregnable in his last five outings allowing only 5 goals (3 against Calgary and two shutouts). The offense is clicking like a good post-season team should with the usual suspects falling into their typical end-of-year rhythm. Johan Franzen has bounced back this season and has posted five points in his last five games. Maybe even more impressive is that Franzen has been held off the scoreboard only seven times since March 10th with 19 points in 21 games.
The Predators showed their fans some end-of-season love and heart by beating the Calgary Flames 4-3 in the home finale Tuesday night. With goals from Halischuk and Spaling alongside Legwand’s 200th goal and Austin Watson’s first NHL goal (Forsberg also recorded his first NHL point on Legwand’s goal), the Predators were able to send the Gold-and-Blue clad home with sore throats and a primer of what may be in store for next season. Although there were a couple defensive breakdowns that led to Calgary goals, overall the Predators game plan worked and the outside shooting when lanes opened up allowed for rebounds and tip-ins galore as Kiprusoff is known to give those up from time to time.
The Predators are 4th worst in the league as of this writing and while the Predators fans would love to see a regulation win against the Red Wings, furthering the torment of the heated Michigan rival, some might feel that staying in the bottom four or worse could net Nashville the game-changing draftee that a franchise and offense could be built around. Names like Mackinnon, Drouin and Barkov have the potential to jump straight into a prominent role in Nashville’s offense much like Landeskog, Nugent-Hopkins and Tavares did for their respective teams. At the professional level, teams compete, and it would be hard to find any club mailing it in even if the games don’t matter in the broad sense. Look for the Predators to give Detroit one final nail in the proverbial coffin and attempt to stifle the Red Wings playoff hopes.
On a side note…this fan got to experience something Tuesday night that he’s been waiting for since his first season finale in 2005. I can now add “winner of the jersey off the player’s back” to my resume of accomplishments and memorabilia accolades. I received Kevin Henderson’s jersey and the experience was one I will never forget. He was amazingly nice and the jersey was amazingly drenched. It is airing out now and will be fitted into a frame and hung proudly in the Predators room at my house very soon after a thorough dry cleaning.
Game time is at 6:30 P.M. Central and can be heard on 102.5 the Game and viewed locally on Fox Sports Tennessee. If you like what you’re reading or have questions/comments feel free to write us below or follow us on Twitter @Preducated and @ThePredatorial.