The Detroit Red Wings look to salvage a brutal back-to-back as they head South to visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday night with both teams struggling.
Detroit swept a home-and-home from the Buffalo Sabres earlier this week but has still lost five of seven — granted, three of the losses were in an overtime or shootout — and is coming off a tough 5-4 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars on Friday. The Red Wings had a late lead but gave up the tying goal to Jason Robertson with 1:03 left in the third period and then lost in the extra period on a Roope Hintz power play score.
Prior to Nashville’s 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, the Predators had lost four games in a row so it was a much-needed victory. Nashville set the tone early, scoring three first period goals and never looking back. Five different Predators found the back of the net and Juuse Saros saved 36 of the 38 shots he faced.
Game: Detroit Red Wings (18-17-6; 42 points) at Nashville Predators (25-14-3; 53 points)
Location: Honda Center
Day/Time: Saturday, January 22, 8:30 p.m. ET
Detroit Red Wings at Nashville Predators
Predators Are Well-Balanced
Nashville has been one of the bigger surprises in the NHL as the Predators currently sit in third place in the Western Conference’s ultra-competitive Central Division. They only have a +13 goal differential, though, so it’s not like Nashville has been an especially dominant team in any one particular aspect of the game.
The Predators are just a middle-of-the-pack offensive team in five-on-five play but they’re elite on the power play, with 32 goals on the man-advantage (third-best in the NHL) and a 25.4% conversion rate (sixth-best). They also have a top-10 shot percentage.
Nashville does lead the league in penalty minutes so the penalty kill (13th-best) is important for them but that’s not a huge issue against Detroit, which is tied for the fifth-worst power play in the NHL. The Predators rely heavily on Saros whose 2.42 goals against average and .924 save percentage place him comfortably as a top-10 goalie. He is able to make up for a bunch of Nashville’s weaknesses and is a big reason why the Predators are able to win so many games despite not being a particularly explosive offensive team.
Detroit Could Be Hitting Wall
It’s not often that one team has three Calder Trophy candidates for most impressive NHL rookie. But, between goalie Alex Nedeljkovic, defenseman Moritz Seider, and winger Lucas Raymond, the Red Wings have three big talents who can form the core of a really good team for years to come.
But, beyond those guys and Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi, the Red Wings don’t have a ton of depth. That might play a role in Detroit’s recent skid, as the Red Wings are just 3-4-3 since New Year’s Eve. Offense has been an issue as of late, as Detroit has averaged only 2.4 goals over the past 10 games.
Plus, with Nedeljkovic playing over 60 minutes in Friday’s overtime loss and backup Thomas Greiss currently in COVID protocols, Detroit’s goalie situation for Saturday is up in the air. Nedeljkovic could start again but he hasn’t started both ends of a back-to-back all season. The Red Wings might call someone up from the AHL if Greiss — who has struggled to a 3.36 goals against average and .894 save percentage this season — can’t go.
Nashville Should Win Big
Between the Predators having the rest advantage and all the uncertainty around who might start in net for Detroit, the Nashville puckline is the way to go if you’re betting online. The Predators have done well on the puckline in their wins over the past few weeks and this is a prime spot to get some serious value on a team that has a lot going for it in this particular matchup. It certainly helps that the Red Wings are a dreadful 5-11-3 on the road.