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Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

WGD #16: Three things to watch for against Nashville

To say the least, the Red Wings didn’t endure much of fun this past weekend. Following their winless weekend, the Red Wings are set to welcome in the 8-4-2 Nashville Predators to Little Caesars Arena tonight. With the Red Wings allowing a combined eleven goals over their previous two games, it’s safe to say defending their own net should be the main priority against the Predators.

This game is also the first night of a back-to-back for the Red Wings. Following this game, the squad will be heading straight for the “Big Apple” to face the Rangers at MSG tomorrow night. So, here’s hoping that the Red Wings are able to fly out on a good note after this game.

Projected Lines

Detroit Red Wings

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Patrik Nemeth
PATRIK NEMETH
Filip Hronek
FILIP HRONEK
Dennis Cholowski
DENNIS CHOLOWSKI
Alex Biega
ALEX BIEGA
Joe Hicketts
JOE HICKETTS
Madison Bowey
MADISON BOWEY

Since experimenting with forward Anthony Mantha on the second line didn’t exactly work out, coach Jeff Blashill has now reunited his three young forwards together on the first line. In correlation with Mantha’s reunion on the top line, forward Adam Erne has been rewarded for his recent hard work by being promoted to the second line.

The 24-year-old has recorded a pair of shots on net along with five hits over the last two games. The Red Wings have tallied just three goals over their last two games. So, hopefully reuniting Mantha with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi will help spark their offense against the Predators.

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Nashville Predators 

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Roman Josi
ROMAN JOSI
Ryan Ellis
RYAN ELLIS
Mattias Ekholm
MATTIAS EKHOLM
Dante Fabbro
DANTE FABBRO
Dan Hamhuis
DAN HAMHUIS
Matt Irwin
MATT IRWIN

Unlike the Red Wings, the Predators have sustained virtually zero issues with lighting the lamp so far this season. Through 14 games this season, the Predators have averaged to score the second-most goals (3.86/game) throughout the entire league. Their team has also recorded three goals or more in five of their last six games as well.

So far this season, the Predators have received consistent offensive production from all four of their lines, which is something the Red Wings remain in desperate need of. Currently, the Predators leading scorer is their third-line center, Nick Bonino with his seven goals. The Red Wings definetly have their work cut out for them tonight, as they’ll need to focus equal attention to all four of the Predators lines.

Three Thoughts

1.) Continuous Shooting Attempt Woes

Coming into this game, the Red Wings have recorded the 12th-fewest number of shots on net per game. While averaging 30.7 shots/game may not seem concerning, the Red Wings will very likely find it tough to create many shots on net against Nashville.

Through the Predators’ 14 games, their team has allowed the third-fewest number of shots per game. The Red Wings are also coming off their game against the Panthers where they produced a miserable 22 shots on net. Goaltender Pekka Rinne will also be starting this game for Nashville, and the two-time All-Star is a perfect 6-0 this season when facing fewer than 30 shots against.

2.) Another Struggling Night in Faceoff Circle

With the Red Wings still without the services of forward Luke Glendening, who owns a team-leading 56.2% FOW percentage, their team has continued to struggle mightily on the faceoff dot. Currently, the Red Wings sit with the fifth-worst FOW% (47.6%) in the entire league.

For Nashville, their 51.1% FOW percentage is currently the ninth-best in the league. Specifically, center Frans Nielsen is poised for a very rough night in the faceoff circle. Nielsen, who owns a team-worst 41% FOW percentage, will very likely be lining up against Bonino through the majority of the game, and the Predators third-line center has produced an impressive 55.1% FOW percentage this season.

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3.) Sloppiness with the Puck 

Through 15 games this season, the Red Wings have been very careless with possession of the puck. Their 185 total giveaways currently rank third-most in the entire league. Understandably, some of the Red Wings youngest players currently lead the team in giveaways this season. Larkin and Mantha have combined to giveaway the puck 33 different times through 15 games.

Unfortunately for the Red Wings, the Predators have forced the fifth-most turnovers (130) in the league this season. So, the Red Wings could very well find themselves behind early in this game if their team continues to be careless with the puck.