Originally written April 11, 2012 on Red Light District Hockey:

Detroit Red Wings fans are concerned for these playoffs. The majority didn't want to be facing the Nashville Predators, even if the Red Wings had home-ice advantage. The Predators have their number this season (and have for the past few seasons as well), and Pekka Rinne always tends to play like Dominik Hasek mixed with Terry Sawchuk mixed with Martin Brodeur in his prime whenever he plays the Wings.

Hockey media is jumping on the idea of the Predators ousting the Red Wings in the first round, and they may not be wrong.

However, it's the playoffs and anything can happen.

Regardless of this fact, the situation is not in the Red Wings' favor. Starting away from Joe Louis Arena when their road record from the regular season is sub-par (at best) is not the ideal beginning for a successful playoff run.

But with the odds not in their favor, when has that ever seriously affected their play? Take last year for instance: Sitting in a 0-3 hole against the San Jose Sharks in the second round, they managed to force a Game Seven against the odds.

So perhaps facing a more competitive team in the first round will be better for them in the long run. They can't always be playing the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round. After all, the last time the Red Wings were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs was 2006 against the Edmonton Oilers.

The Red Wings need to find their groove -- and fast -- if they want to last in these playoffs. This is the team that has found that magical switch most people do not believe exists -- the switch that turns them from a mediocre-looking team in the regular season to a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs.

With all the positivity surrounding the Predators in this matchup, what exactly is in the Red Wings' favor?

- Players back from injuries
Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Ericsson, and Jimmy Howard (to name only a few) have all come back in the past dozen games or so. While they started slow, all of them seem to have come back to form. Besides, Lidstrom on the Red Wings' blue line at eighty percent is better than no Lidstrom at all.

Likewise, Darren Helm plans on making his return in Game 1 of this series. This will easily bolster the penalty kill, and special teams play a critical part in the playoffs.

- Their play in the past 15 games
Many see this as a negative. It has certainly contributed to fans' pessimism and uneasiness. But would fans rather see that kind of play by the Red Wings in the playoffs? The Wings may have just been getting it out of their system. Perhaps they want everyone to underestimate them.

- Johan Franzen
He may be streaky. He may have been virtually invisible for twenty games at the end of the season. But the man known as The Mule thrives in the playoffs. He had three goals in the final three games of the season, more than the dozen games before that, and while that's still pretty bad for Franzen, it shows that maybe he's coming back to form.

The postseason is his time to shine. If Franzen starts up rearing to go and on his game, his line will be dangerous. After all, Franzen has 33 playoff goals in the past four seasons. That's just one behind Henrik Zetterberg and that's among all NHL players. Franzen is one of the main keys to some successful offense on this Red Wings team.

- The travel
The past two seasons have had the Red Wings playing out in Phoenix, followed by playing out in San Jose. They are the easternmost Western Conference team and they are constantly darting out to the West coast to play games. They have traveled the most out of any other NHL team in the postseason since 2006-2007.

Starting in Nashville, which is about ten hours south of Detroit and only an hour behind, seems like a cakewalk. Besides, when the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2008, they played Nashville in the first round. While the situation may not be the same at all, fans can try to take a little comfort in the idea that the lessened travel will work in the Red Wings' favor.

Of course, it's the playoffs. We have to remember this. Anything can happen. It's best not to count any team out just yet. After all, the games haven't even started.

Photo credit: Getty Images
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