Wings Preds

Series at a glance: Nashville-Detroit playoff preview



All times are Eastern.

* – if necessary

Wednesday April 11 in Nashville @ 8 p.m. (CNBC, CBC)
Friday April 13 in Nashville @ 7:30 p.m. (CNBC, CBC)
Sunday April 15 in Detroit @ Noon (NBC, CBC)
Tuesday April 17 in Detroit @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
*Friday April 20 in Nashville @ 8 p.m. (CNBC, CBC)
*Sunday April 22 in Detroit @ TBD (TBD)
*Tuesday April 24 in Nashville @ TBD (TBD)

Three storylines to follow

1. Third time’s the charm for Preds? This will be the third time that the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings have met in the first round of the playoffs. Detroit defeated Nashville in six games in 2004 and then again in 2008. However, the last two times, the Red Wings were the top seed in the Western Conference and Detroit was playing against a franchise that had never won a playoff series. This time around, the Predators will have home-ice advantage with the knowledge they advanced past the first round last year.

2. Will the Predators’ playoff push pay off? The Predators were big buyers in what was a pretty quiet trade market this season. They acquired Hal Gill, Paul Gaustad, and Andrei Kostitsyn before the deadline. However, their biggest addition has to be Alexander Radulov, who returned to Nashville after leaving for the KHL following the 2007-08 campaign. Radulov has seven points in nine games, including a goal and an assist in Nashville’s 4-1 win over Detroit on March 30.

3. The Red Wings are finally healthy…mostly. Detroit dealt with more than its fair share of injuries in the second half of the season. Key players like Nicklas Lidstrom, Jimmy Howard, Pavel Datsyuk, and Johan Franzen all missed a noteworthy amount of playing time down the stretch, but they should all be available on Wednesday.


Nashville: 48-26-8, 104 points (2nd in Central; 4th in Western Conference) | Detroit: 48-28-6, 102 points (3rd in Central; 5th in Western Conference)

Leading scorers

Nashville: Martin Erat (19G-39A-58PTS) | Detroit: Henrik Zetterberg (22G-47A-69PTS)

Starting goalies

Nashville: Pekka Rinne (43-18-8, 2.39 GAA) | Detroit: Jimmy Howard (35-17-4, 2.12 GAA)


Season series tied 3-3
Nov. 26: At Detroit 4, Nashville 1
Dec. 15: At Nashville 4, Detroit 3
Dec. 26: Detroit 4, at Nashville 1
Feb. 17: At Detroit 2, Nashville 1
March 10: At Nashville 3, Detroit 2
March 30: Nashville 4, at Detroit 1

Last 10 games

Nashville: 6-4-0 | Detroit: 4-4-2

Playoff history

Detroit leads 2-0
2004: Detroit 4-2 (Western Conference quarterfinals)
2008: Detroit 4-2 (Western Conference quarterfinals)

2011 playoffs

Nashville: Def. Anaheim 4-2 (Western Conference quarterfinals); lost to Vancouver 4-2 (Western Conference semifinals) | Detroit: Def. Phoenix 4-0 (Western Conference quarterfinals); lost to San Jose 4-3 (Western Conference semifinals)


Nashville: Anders Lindback (upper body), Brian McGrattan (upper body)

Detroit: Darren Helm (knee), Joey MacDonald (back), Patrick Eaves (concussion)

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”