Posted on April 13, 2008 07:31 PM | Permalink
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The shift of this quarter-final series to Nashville for two games might mean some different match-ups when the Predators and Detroit Red Wings meet on Monday.
The Predators are hoping so, anyway.
Nashville's top line of Jan Hlavac, Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont has been held off the scoreboard and rendered mostly ineffective during two losses, thanks to the strong two-way play of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom - and the airtight defense of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski.
The ability to make the last change could free up the Predators' top trio a little bit more.
"I'm not going to lie -- it's been hard playing against Lidstrom and Rafalski, two candidates for the Norris Trophy," Dumont said. "They're really smart. They read the play very well … But we definitely have to score goals to be successful."
Nashville would also like to find some different combinations to check the Wings' top line, but that may not be so easy. Detroit coach Mike Babcock says he's likely to split up Zetterberg and Datsyuk at times, to make it harder for Predators' defenders to shut both down.
"They practised (on different lines) today, but we've been consistent all year long and over the last two years," Babcock said Sunday. "Sometimes they're together, sometimes they're apart, whichever allows us to get the best match-up and have success. They'll start together, though."
Ready for a fight:
Detroit would obviously like to close out the series as quickly as possible, but the Red Wings are preparing for an all-out effort on the part of the Predators in Game Three.
"You know the closer you get to closing a team out, the more desperate and better they play," Wings center Kris Draper said. "They're going home, where they've had some great starts against us and we have to be ready. You can't get content right now."
Predators center David Legwand did not skate during Sunday's optional practice and his status remains in question for Monday's game.
Legwand has missed 14 straight games with a deep bone bruise on his left foot. The team has been hopeful he'd return for Game Three.
"He skated four days in a row and (the foot) sort of flared up just a little bit," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We're just letting it settle it down a little bit."
Trotz said Legwand would not participate in Monday's morning skate and that a decision on his status would be made closer to game-time.
Trotz said that if Legwand can't play, the team would consider recalling either Antti Pihlstrom or Josh Langfeld from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League.