Red Wings – Predators Postgame Notes

I’ve ripped into him in every shootout he’s been in this year so now I have to give him his due: Jimmy Howard played out of his mind in the shootout tonight. Whoever picked the three stars of the game got it wrong. You play 65 minutes of shutout hockey and then stop a ridiculous 91% of shooters in the shootout, you’re the first star.

On the offensive side, it took some amazing attempts to beat both Howard and Pekka Rinne.

Bertuzzi’s attempt… Does anyone have more confidence in the shootout than him? One second he’s damn near stopped at the blue line, the next he’s made 37 quick moves and is lifting a shot over Rinne, who’s sprawling out thinking “WTF? That puck was just here.”

Sullivan was fated to score. He’s been a Wing killer for long enough that it should just be expected. That said, his deke on Howard was so nice that I won’t blame Howard for falling for it, no matter how much I feel like I should.

Eleven rounds in – the longest the Wings have ever gone into the shootout – and Niklas Kronwall breaks the tie. Another confident move. Nothing fancy, just race on in and shove it down Rinne’s throat.

Of course that it went to a shootout at all hurts the Wings a bit in the playoff race. Nashville’s one point keeps Detroit from catching them but the gap is closer now, with the Red Wings one point back of the Predators with a game in hand.

As I write this, the Colorado Avalanche are down 5-2 to the Phoenix Coyotes. Should they go on to lose, the Avalanche will drop to eighth place in the conference, two points back of Detroit with a game in hand.

The Los Angeles Kings are up 1-0 after the first period of play against the Dallas Stars. A win or OT loss would put the Kings in sixth and the Wings in seventh, while the teams will be flipped if Dallas wins in regulation. Los Angeles also has a game in hand on Detroit.

Perhaps most importantly, the Calgary Flames dropped their second in a row earlier today, a 5-0 decision to the Boston Bruins. Combined with Detroit’s win, the ninth-place Flames now sit eight points back of the Red Wings with seven games remaining. This means that with three wins the Red Wings can clinch a playoff spot.

Red Wings Could Move Up in Standings Tonight

One night after defeating the Minnesota Wild to take a six-point lead over the Calgary Flames in the standings, the Detroit Red Wings are looking forward, with the chance to leapfrog the Nashville Predators tonight.

The Wings currently sit at 89 points with 74 games played. Nashville is two points up after 75 games. A Detroit win in regulation would put the teams into a tie, with Detroit having fewer games played.

The Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche both have games tonight as well. Colorado is currently tied with Detroit but has played one less game. The Kings are one point up, also with a game in hand. Losses by both, combined with a Detroit win, would vault the Red Wings from eighth place to fifth.

The Wings will have to make due without Dan Cleary, however. Cleary left Friday’s game early after re-injuring his groin and is not expected to play tonight. Defenseman Derek Meech will skate on the fourth line, as he did when Cleary was originally hurt.

Jimmy Howard is expected to get the start.

Game time is 8:00.