Found April 18, 2012 on
Fox Sports Tennessee:
Detroit Red Wings
Having taken a commanding 3-1 series lead against the Detroit Red Wings, its not surprising that the Nashville Predators have gotten scoring from their defense, as All-Stars Ryan Suter and Shea Weber both ranked in the top five on the team in points during the regular season.
Whats been surprising is the name of one of those defensemen who has come up with two huge goals, including the game-winner in Game 4 on Tuesday in a 3-1 win over the Red Wings.
Hes Mohawk-coiffed Kevin Klein the Predator who has 12 career goals in the regular season spread out over seven NHL seasons and 309 games. He entered the playoffs with one goal in 18 career playoff games.
Hes also the same one who, as a junior player, was once named the top defensive defenseman in his conference. But now hes charging down the ice, scoring highlight-reel goals.
On Tuesday, Preds right wing Martin Erat skated up ice on the rush and drew three Red Wings to him, including goalie Jimmy Howard. Erat fed the puck through that mass of humanity to Klein, who, using his wits after being abandoned in the neutral zone by Red Wing forward Valtteri Filppula, found himself all alone in front of a literally wide open goal and slammed the puck home.
Kleins goal in Game 3 was even more spectacular, as he stickhandled through the defense and roofed a shot over Howards glove after breaking in alone on the goal. It gave the Preds a 2-1 lead and would have stood up as the game-winner if the Detroits Henrik Zetterberg had not drawn to within 3-2 with 54 seconds left in regulation.
Klein said he doesnt think goal-scoring surge is a result of his jumping into the play any more than usual. He said hes just having more luck when he does. His shooting percentage 40 percent, which ties him with Sidney Crosby for sixth-best in the playoffs would seem to bear that out.
"I may have jumped into the play once or twice last game,'' Klein said. "Marty just happened to make an unbelievable play to get me the puck in front of the open net. Its just one of those things about being in the right place at the right time and its worked out the last couple games that Ive managed to go to the net.''
While Weber and Suter get so much of the press on the Nashville defense corps and deservedly so Klein shares a connection with them that goes to the essence of how the organization has built the team into a serious contender. All three players were selected during the 2003 NHL Draft, which, incidentally, was held in Nashville.
The Preds took Suter seventh overall, Klein 30 picks later and Weber 49th. For the last two seasons, those three players have represented the Preds top three in time on ice per game on the defense corps. While Suter worked his way into the lineup as a regular by 2005-06 and Weber did so one season later, it took Klein a little bit longer.
With those two being ahead of him on the depth chart and others like Kimmo Timonen and Dan Hamhuis being older and more established, Klein did not become a regular until 2008-09, when he played 63 games.
But now, not only is he a regular, hes a trend-setter. He was the first to go to the Mohawk haircut and he inspired fellow backliners Roman Josi and Francis Bouillon to do the same.
Much attention in this series has focused in an off-ice way on another defensemen Hal Gill and whether he will be healthy enough to play. The Predators traded for him in February for his penalty-killing and shot-blocking abilities but so far a lower-body injury has sidelined him. Little did the Preds know that they would be able to overcome that absence, in part, because of Kleins offense.
Nonetheless, Klein is eager to get the 6-foot-7 Gill, still listed as day-to-day but improving, back in the lineup.
"He's obviously a veteran force back there, great on the penalty kill,'' Klein said of Gill. "Wed love to have him back as soon as possible. He's working towards that goal and well definitely welcome him back with open arms when he comes back in the lineup.''
For now, the Preds are holding down the fort without Gill. Klein has a plus-2 rating after going minus-8 during the regular season. Backed by the incredible postseason play of goalie Pekka Rinne, the Preds have allowed only eight goals in the four games.
Thats a huge improvement over the last few weeks of the regular season during which the Preds added four new players to the lineup as a result of trades and Alex Radulov returning from Russia.
"We had to figure that out then we had to get used to each other,'' Klein said. "We've been working on the (defensive) zone all the time, just communication with the (defense) and the forwards. Peks has been unbelievable, obviously, so that always helps, and I think that the main thing was getting used to each other, gearing up the intensity towards the playoffs.''
The man with the Mohawk seems to have geared up his intensity as much as anyone.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
According to the the Saginaw Spirit team web site, Josh Shalla has signed a three year entry level contract with the Nashville Predators.Shalla recently completed his final season with the Spirit and is their all time leading goal scorer. He is st to join the Milwaukee Admirals as they open their first round playoff series with the Abbotsford Heat this Friday.Shalla was the Predators...
Brace yourself, Preds fans. Your Nashville Predators are headed home with a 3-1 series lead.
In front of 20,066 inside Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday night, the Preds did the unthinkable: completed the sweep in Detroit. Goals from Gabriel Bourque, Kevin Klein and David Legwand provided the offense while Pekka Rinne’s 40 saves provided the defense in the 3-1 win.
Legwand thought he...
Nashville Predators defenseman Hal Gill won't play Tuesday in Game 4 of the team's best-of-seven series with the Detroit Red Wings, Predators coach Barry Trotz announced.Gill hasn't played in the first three games of the series due to a lower-body injury.He remains listed as day-to-day.Gill had five assists in 23 games for the Predators during the regular season.
While the Nashville Predators had an off day after Tuesday's 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings, Head Coach Barry Trotz and three players, David Legwand, Kevin Klein, and Gabriel Bourque held a conference call with the media. Here is the complete audio of the call. David Legwand, Kevin Klein, and Gabriel Bourque Head Coach Barry Trotz More Later... Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass
NASHVILLE -- When the Predators host the Detroit Red Wings in Game 5 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series on Friday, they have a chance to achieve a huge milestone for their franchise.
With a 3-1 series lead, a win lets them advance, but more than that, it will allow the Preds -- for this season, at least -- to know that they have surpassed the organization against which...
Gabriel Bourque and defenseman Kevin Klein scored early third-period goals and Pekka Rinne once again came up big as the Nashville Predators skated to a 3-1 triumph over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.
The Predators own a 3-1 edge in the Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Rinne turned aside 40 shots and David Legwand scored the clinching tally with 39 seconds to play as...
Alexander Radulov’s return to the Nashville Predators in March after a nearly four-year absence generated considerable commentary over whether or not his presence would bolster the Predators offense, as well as questions about his off-season intentions.
In the summer of 2008, Radulov bolted for the riches of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League while still owing the Predators...
With all the stress and disappointment that has been the 2012 playoffs, where the much more talented and experience Detroit Red Wings should be beating the tar out of the Nashville Predators. Happy Hudler decided that what he needed the most was to spend his off day in Nashville having some fun with the Locals.Click the jump to see what crazy adventures await
First stop was to...
Maybe this summarizes the series as good as anything else: the Detroit Red Wings and the Nashville Predators chose to take advantage of the two-day break between Game 4 and Game 5 to rest and prepare for an all-important and possible elimination game on Friday, but while the Predators chose to speak to the media and announced that Thursday’s practice in Nashville will be open to...
All 20,066 people in Joe Louis arena were stunned. The Nashville Predators took a commanding 3-1 lead in their first round series against the Detroit Red Wings by sweeping both games in Detroit.
The Predators had to overcome poor play early, several terrific runs from Detroit (where it appeared that they would storm back) and also some mediocre work from the referees.
The Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators will face off tonight for an all-important Game 4 (7:30 PM EDT, FSD/FS Tennessee/CNBC/CBC/97.1 FM), MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that the Wings’ players received a little break in terms of managing their energy levels, despite the fact that ESPN’s Criag Custance reports that ping-pong gate was in fact an exaggeration(!), and that...
The Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators held dueling practices at their respective rinks (albeit with the Predators using their practice facility and the Wings, who face an incredibly steep uphill climb in attempting to force Game 6 and a delay in the commencement of our annuall Nicklas Lidstrom watch), at the same time, on Thursday, and MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that the...
DETROIT (AP) -- Kevin Klein scored a go-ahead goal 6:25 into the third period and Pekka Rinne made 40 saves, lifting the Nashville Predators to a 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night and a 3-1 lead in the first-round Western Conference playoff series.
The Predators can eliminate Detroit in Game 5 on Friday night in Nashville.
Predators rookie Gabriel Bourque broke...
It is a pivotal game four tonight at the Joe in this war of attrition called the Western Conference Quarter-Finals. The Predators lead the series 2-1. A win tonight give Nashville a chance to clinch the series on home ice Friday night and make the next step in their path to the championship. The opportunity is there, now what does Nashville need to do in order to grab it?