Preds' home ice could be a big key vs. Red Wings
The Predators finished off their slate of games in the 2011-12 regular season with a strong offensive victory, 6-1 over the Colorado Avalanche.
But it was tough to gauge the Predators following the win. They won by a lot, but they were without their usual first line of Martin Erat, Sergei Kostitsyn and Mike Fisher -- who were given the night off. They didn't have Hal Gill or Francis Bouillon.
Also, Colorado had been eliminated one game earlier and had very little to play for. Still, a win is a win.
The Predators found out earlier in the day that they will play Detroit in the first round of the postseason. The Predators went 3-3-0 against the Red Wings this season. Nashville won their last two contests against Detroit, including a victory at Joe Louis Arena. The Predators have never beaten the Red Wings in the postseason. They've never even won a game at Joe Louis Arena in the playoffs. Nashville has played Detroit twice.
This makes the fact that the Predators got home-ice advantage as the fourth seed even more vital. Nashville will start the playoffs at home, in a building that's tough to play in for the opposition.
-C Craig Smith had played just once since March 22. During his times out of the lineup, he was a healthy scratch. Smith re-entered the lineup and made some noise with one goal and two assists. The coaching staff may look at him to play in the early games against the Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs.
"Craig's focus has been on working hard every day and keeping a good attitude," coach Barry Trotz said. "There's no personal agenda, he's going to work hard. His foundation is work and an attitude, so when he had an opportunity he made a good case."
-G Anders Lindback won, but it came at a cost. D Ryan Ellis fell on the big goaltender early in the third period. Lindback exited the game after injuring, what the Predators called his "upper body." Lindback made 34 saves.
"It's always unfortunate when you see your partner a little banged up and he has to come out," G Pekka Rinne said. "It's always fun to play, but only thing I'm worried is Lindy, hopefully it was something minor and he's fine."
-Even before their 6-1 win over Colorado, the Predators clinched the fourth seed for the postseason. The Predators will play the Detroit Red Wings. They will have home ice advantage for the first time since the 2006-07 season and the first time ever against the Red Wings.
"This is the first time we have ranked ahead of them in the regular season and have a chance to play at home and start at home and have advantage," G Pekka Rinne said. "I'm really looking forward to that, that's going to be a great series, and I think we have a pretty good rivalry with them and looking forward to that."
QUOTE TO NOTE
"They're obviously a great team and they're finding ways to win. That's how we've been this year, too. We've had some comebacks late in games, and I think that says a lot about both teams." -- D Ryan Suter on the Red Wings.
-G Anders Lindback started his second game this week. He played 42:05 before exiting in the third with an upper body injury.
-C Craig Smith scored his first goal since March 12. His three points were his first multi-point game since Dec. 1.
-LW Matt Halischuk's goal and assist were his first points since March 25 at Chicago. He finished the season with 15 goals.