Few would have expected that the Detroit Red Wings, the team that set the record for most consecutive home victories during the regular season, would be on the brink of playoff elimination after dropping two straight games at the Joe Louis Arena this week. Tonight however, the Nashville Predators will look to knock off the veteran Red Wings, who travel back to the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for a critical Game 5 with face-off set for 8:00 PM ET.
Detroit hasn’t played poorly so far in this series, allowing no more than 3 goals in a game so far with the Nashville Predators, but rather the problem has been trying to figure out the Nashville defense, and a solid wall of a goalie in Pekka Rinne, who has once again been the rock of the Predators teams between the pipes. Finding a way to pick themselves up off the floor after suffering the first back-to-back home losses on the year (and the first set of back-to-back home losses to the Predators, ever), will be the biggest task facing the Red Wings, a team that has been frustrated by outshooting the Preds in 3 of the 4 games, but coming up short in just as many outings. In fact, in the lone game in which Detroit won (Game 2 at Nashville), they had the lowest shot total of the series (17) and managed to convert 3 times despite no success on the power play. Simply put, it’s not a matter of how many shots you put on net against Pekka Rinne, it’s the quality of shots, and that will be key to the Red Wings holding on for one more game and pushing the series back to the Joe for Game 6. With the pressure of the game fully on the Predators however, as they are tasked with finishing off one of the most consistently appearing playoff teams in NHL history, Detroit needs to step up offensively and get production from their most talented players, including Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula, none of whom carry a +/- figure in the positive zone coming into tonight’s match-up. Filppula especially could be a player that Detroit would like to see get going at the right moment, as he’s failed to generate a single point in 3 straight games, as the Detroit offense has been hampered by a solid Nashville defense that rallies around ‘Peks’ in net.
Shea Weber, the Predators polarizing defenseman, will once again be a focus for the Detroit Red Wings, as getting him off his game is crucial to the Red Wings success in the Nashville zone. Getting back on the power play as often as possible wouldn’t hurt Detroit’s chances tonight either, so look for the Red Wings to play hard-hitting, physical hockey with the aim of baiting Nashville’s defense into making poor decisions in their own zone. As Nashville rallies around Weber tonight and tries to get another big defensive stand out of Kevin Klein, Ryan Suter (who logged an insane 30+ minutes in Game 4) and Roman Josi, finding ways to split this tight defensive unit will be crucial, and capitalizing on the time Weber spends off-ice is paramount. Even if the Red Wings do manage to break up the Nashville defense, they still have to challenge Pekka Rinne, a goalie who has seen on average 34.5 shots per game. It’s evident that it doesn’t matter how many shots he faces, Rinne will stand on his head as long as the puck is within reach. Therefore, the Detroit veterans have to find a way to push the puck towards the net, utilize their bigger bodies (such as Todd Bertuzzi, who thus far has been a no-show in this series) and catch Rinne switching from side-to-side. Detroit can’t expect to beat the 6’5″ Rinne firing shots straight at him, and while he’s exceedingly quick for a goalie his size, the only time to get pucks past him will be when he’s defending on one side of the net, and forced to jump to the other to counter and well-played pass. You don’t need lots of shots against Rinne, as was evident back in Game 2, you simply have to make them count at the most opportune time.
For Nashville, the pressure will be one of the biggest things to handle with the rowdy Predators fans egging them on to wrap up this tightly-contested series at home. With Detroit very seasoned in playoff hockey, and perfectly capable of mounting a comeback in this series if they can win tonight and push Game 6 back home, Nashville must strike early to set the tone for the evening. Gabriel Borque, who has been huge in this series thus far with 3 goals, as well as Shea Weber and the pair of Kostitsyn’s Sergei and Andrei, have to find a way to come through on a power play tonight, something that has been lacking and for good reason as Detroit has it’s penalty kill operating at 89.5 percent efficiency. Getting plenty of shots on goal is also a big part of the Preds game plan tonight, as they’ve been held to just under 23 shots per contest thus far, showing success at converting in the offensive zone, but also an inability to get shots on Jimmy Howard. If Howard can string together a couple good nights between the pipes while facing so few shots, Detroit has a great potential to get back in this series. But, if Nashville can get to Howard early once again and drop his confidence, the Predators will be able to shake some of the elimination game nerves and focus in on shutting down Detroit’s veteran offense. The icebreaker goal is of utmost importance here tonight, and if the Predators want to finish out at home, they had better get the first one before Detroit hones in on a barrage of offense aimed at their star goalie.
Betting lines for the Detroit Red Wings vs. Nashville Predators at Oddsmaker Sportsbook
Nashville enters as the slightest of favorites on the money line tonight, getting -120 odds to win straight up. Detroit on the other hand is at EVEN money for tonight’s game, in a do-or-die situation.
Against the Spread, the Predators have to make up 1.5 goals at +240 odds. Considering that only one game out of the 4 played so far in this series has seen a 2-goal difference at the end, the high odds are fully warranted. Detroit meanwhile has a +1.5 goal cushion, albeit with lofty -285 odds as bookmakers are banking heavily on a 1-goal margin tonight. If however Nashville finds themselves with a lead late in the game, a desperation push by Detroit may just give up the empty net goal that pushes Nashville over the -1.5 goals, which would make for a solid payday at Oddsmaker today.
The total points once again is glued at 5 goals, which to-date no game of the series has surpassed. With everything on the line and the focus on stand-up defense first and foremost, expectations should be high that goals will be at a premium, and even this low over/under may yet produce a winner for under pickers.
No matter which way you wager on this elimination game between two fantastic hockey clubs, make sure to peruse all your options for sportsbook bets at Oddsmaker Sportsbook, find the best looking options for your wagering style, and enjoy what is sure to be a exceptionally intense and exciting Stanley Cup Playoff game tonight!