Originally written April 08, 2012 on Fang Faction:
First Round: #5 Detroit Red Wings (48-28-6) vs. #4 Nashville Predators (48-26-8)

The Nashville Predators will be playing the Detroit Red Wings in the First Round of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Predators and Red Wings will be playing each other in the First Round for the third time all-time. Nashville has finished the season off ahead of Detroit for the first time ever. 

Read your First Round Preview, after the jump.

Here is your Schedule. Game Date Away Home Time (CT) TV Network Game 1 Wed. April 11 Red Wings Predators 7:00 PM CNBC, CBC Game 2 Fri. April 13 Red Wings Predators 6:30 PM CNBC, CBC Game 3 Sun. April 15 Predators Red Wings 11:00 AM NBC, CBC Game 4 Tue. April 17 Predators Red Wings 6:30 PM NBC Sports Network, CBC *Game 5 Fri. April 20 Red Wings Predators 7:00 PM CNBC, CBC *Game 6 TBD Predators Red Wings TBD TBD *Game 7 TBD Red Wings Predators TBD TBD * - If Necessary TBD - To Be Determined

Before we get into the First Round Preview, let's take a look at the six meetings during the regular season. Highlights occur in order as season series.

Season Series
Date Away Home Result November 26 Predators Red Wings 1-4 Detroit December 15 Red Wings Predators 3-4 Nashville December 26 Red Wings Predators 4-1 Detroit February 17 Predators Red Wings 1-2 Detroit March 10 Red Wings Predators 2-3 Nashville March 30 Predators Red Wings 4-1 Nashville







Top 3 Predators Forwards vs Red Wings in Points Name GP G A +/- #11 David Legwand 6 1 4 1 #22 Jordin Tootoo 6 1 4 1 #6 Shea Weber 5 3 0 -4 Top 3 Red Wings Forwards vs Predators in Points Name GP G A +/- #40 Henrik Zetterberg 6 2 4 3 #51 Valtteri Filppula 6 4 1 3 #13 Pavel Datsyuk 5 2 3 4 Predators Goalies Stats vs Red Wings Name GP W L OT GAA SV % #35 Pekka Rinne 6 3 3 0 2.67 .920 Red Wings Goalies Stats vs Predators Name GP W L OT GAA SV % #35 Jimmy Howard 4 2 2 0 2.26 .908 #31 Joey MacDonald 2 1 1 0 2.02 .902   Who is better offensively? Even

The Nashville Predators have a lot of depth and all four lines can score. Alexander Radulov, Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn, Martin Erat and Mike Fisher are going to have to score. Although, the Detroit Red Wings have star forwards like Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler that will be big threats.

Who is better defensively? Nashville Predators

The Predators have the edge in the defensive department because of their depth as well. With the acquisition of Hal Gill and the return of Roman Josi, the Predators have never looked better at defense this season. 

The Detroit Red Wings have "playoff-style" Nicklas Lidstrom at defense. Yes this could be his final season, so that means he will play the remaining games with tons of heart. Niklas Kronwall is the biggest worry right now. I really hope he doesn't hit someone in open ice. Kronwall's perfect hits have been named "Kronwalled." Look at this collaboration of videos of Niklas Kronwall, "Kronwalling" players.



Who is better in net? Nashville Predators

No doubt it is the Predators who are better between the pipes. Pekka Rinne is the man. With Anders Lindback playing well as of late, the Predators are now solid at goaltending.

Jimmy Howard and Joey MacDonald are the goalies for Detroit. The Predators can beat MacDonald. Jimmy Howard has been solid all season, even though he had an injury a month ago. 

Who is better on Special Teams? Nashville Predators

The Predators are better than the Red Wings on special teams, stat wise. On the power play, Nashville is ranked 1st with a 21.6% conversion, while Detroit is ranked 22nd with a 16.1% conversion.

The Red Wings have a really good power play though. They just couldn't succeed on their chances. When Coach Babcock puts his stars on the power play, it usually works. I'm talking about Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg. That is one hell of a power play unit.

Nashville is better than Detroit in penalty killing. Mainly because their key penalty killer, Darren Helm, is out for at least the first two games of the series. The Predators are ranked 10th with a 83.6% PK. The Red Wings are ranked 18th with a 81.8% PK.

The Key Players

Nashville Predators

The key players in victory for Nashville is Pekka Rinne, Patric Hornqvist and Alexander Radulov. Pekka Rinne has to have a great series like last year against the Vancouver Canucks. In some instances, Rinne will have to stand on his head. 

Patric Hornqvist is a key player because he is the toughest guy on the team. Hornqvist needs to have a better playoff performance than his past seasons. If he plays the same way as the regular season, he will be fine. Hornqvist just needs to be consistent this series.

Alexander Radulov is here for a reason. To win the Cup. If he is here to win the Stanley Cup, watch for him to be the most dangerous player in the series. More dangerous than Datsyuk or Zetterberg. Radulov has won championships in the KHL, so now he plans on winning championships in the NHL. 

Detroit Red Wings

The key players in victory for the Red Wings is Jimmy Howard, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall.

As everyone knows, goaltending is the most important position during the playoffs. Jimmy Howard is going to have to play better if he wants the series. Howard has a 2-2-0 record against the Predators, this season. Time to come up big after the injury Howard!

Pavel Datsyuk is a complete monster offensively. Datsyuk has stick skills that no other player has. He is going to have to try to break down Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, if he wants to succeed. That is a pretty tough task to mount.

Niklas Kronwall has the power to transform games with his huge hits. If Kronwall was to hit a Predators while they were down, the momentum would go to Detroit and spark a comeback. Kronwall, in a way, has the keys to every game. The Predators will have to keep their heads up and not look down.
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