We’re far removed from the old rivalry these two had when the Wings were in the Western Conference, but you could make the argument that it’s more exciting to watch this year’s Nashville Predators. Only last season, this team was two games away from a Stanley Cup. This year, they are fighting for the top spot in the Central Division. They are 6-2-2 in their last ten games and are coming off a 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames last night.

Detroit, as we know, has not trended in the same direction as their former rivals, battling for the basement of the league (currently at 5.8% chance of winning the draft lottery). They are 4-4-2 in their last ten and coming off of a painful 4-1 loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Wings’ season has been a portrait of inconsistency. They will lose badly to the Buffalo Sabres, but win big against the Washington Capitals. It makes it hard to predict the outcome of this one. They are playing against a tired Nashville squad, but haven’t had that much rest themselves. At least they are healthy and have everyone available to go.


Red Wings lines via DailyFaceoff

Not much of a change to the Red Wings forward lines today. Tyler Bertuzzi remains in the lineup after being healthy scratched two games ago. He’ll slot onto the fourth line with Luke Glendening and Martin Frk. The newest rendition of a “grind line” remains together as Darren HelmFrans Nielsen, and Justin Abdelkader will likely find themselves matched up against the Preds top line.

The top-6 remains unchanged. Tomas Tatar has three goals in his last three games and Dylan Larkin has five points in his last six games. Hopefully those two can get Andreas Athanasiou going again as he’s been in a slump with one point in his last nine games. The top line is rolling with Anthony Mantha finding the scoring sheet again and Henrik Zetterberg is one point away from 60.

The defense took a hit this morning as it was announced that Mike Green would be missing tonight’s game and probably tomorrow’s with an upper-body injury. That is not good for his trade value as we’re only 11 days from the deadline. Trevor Daley will fill his spot on the powerplay and Luke Witkowski will draw into the lineup to play the bottom pair with Nick JensenNiklas Kronwall will play the second pair with Danny DeKeyser.

I think it speaks volumes that Blashill is playing Witkowski over Xavier Ouellet. It all but confirms that Ouellet won’t be playing for this team any longer. Hopefully Holland can get a late round pick for the young defenseman at the deadline.


Predators lines via DailyFaceoff

DFO has Calle Jarnkrok in here twice, but the one in the second line center position is likely just a placeholder. Kyle Turris skated this morning after missing the game last night due to an illness. He’ll probably play tonight, knocking Jarnkrok down to the third line.

The top line of Filip ForsbergRyan Johanson, and Viktor Arvidsson is easily the Preds most dangerous line, but this team has great depth right through the bottom-9 in guys like Kevin FialaColton Sissons, and Pontus Aberg. Add to that the experience that Nick Bonino and Scott Hartnell bring to the table and you’ve got a winning combination.

And then there’s that defense. I don’t even recognize the bottom-2 names, but does it even matter when you’re icing Roman Josi with Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm with P.K. Subban? That foursome has a combined 111 points so far this season and that’s with Ellis only appearing in 18 games. Subban actually leads the entire team with 44 points (15 goals, 29 assists).

This defense should leave Red Wigs fans dying of envy.


Petr Mrazek vs. Juusi Saros

Mrazek will get his first start since February 9th, where he allowed 7 goals on 29 shots against the New York Islanders. With rumours afloat about the Red Wings goalies at the trade deadline, Mrazek’s value seems to be at an all-time low.

After a rough start to the season, Mrazek is sporting a mediocre .906 save percentage. Outside of a few outliers, he’s been surprisingly solid in 2018. That being said, he hasn’t been good enough to warrant a raise on his $4-million cap hit. Mrazek is 5-0-0 against the Predators since 2015 with a .934 save percentage.

The Wings hit a bit of luck tonight as they will face Saros on the second game of the Nashville back-to-back. Saros has been solid for the Preds this year, putting up a .924 save percentage in the 15 games that he’s played. In any case, the goalie in Nashville doesn’t have to be out-of-his-mind good when he’s got a D-corps like that in front of him.


Don’t forget that Nashville is in a different time zone so the game will be starting later, at 8:00 P.M. ET. Tune in to Fox Sports Detroit for the best crew in hockey’s broadcast, but if you’re in the Nashville area, you can watch on Fox Sports Tennessee.

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