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At a Glance: Nashville Predators

Wings can clinch playoff spot with win and Blue Jackets loss

Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 1:40 PM ET / Preview
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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At a Glance: Nashville Predators
The last time Nashville backup Chris Mason faced the Red Wings was with the Winnipeg Jets in 2011. In that game, the Red Wings scored seven times on 37 shots. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

DETROIT – The Red Wings get their first crack at clinching a playoff berth tonight when they host the Nashville Predators at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit can qualify for an amazing 22nd consecutive postseason with a win coupled with a Columbus loss at Dallas tonight.

“We just have to prepare for the process here tonight,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said, following his team’s optional skate this morning. “We’re playing a team that has a bunch of kids that got called up and are playing well. They get (Mike) Fisher back here tonight. They’re going to play hard.”

Thursday’s game will be the last time that the Wings and Predators will meet as Central Division rivals. The Red Wings are scheduled to move to the Eastern Conference next season, while the Predators will remain in the Western Conference.

The playoff race is coming down to a sprint as four teams – the Red Wings, Wild, Blue Jackets and Stars – jockey for the final two spots in the West.

The Predators can make friends in Ohio, Texas and Minnesota if they can squeak out a victory in Detroit. The Red Wings (52 points) are one-point behind Minnesota, who holds down the No. 7 seed, and a point ahead of Columbus. Dallas is the 10th seed, and on life-support, with 48 points and two games remaining, including the season-finale against the Red Wings at American Airlines on Saturday night.

Nashville has gone 1-7-1 in its last nine games while being badly out-scored 31-16. Eleven days ago, it took the Red Wings 57 minutes to get a Johan Franzen goal that gave them some breathing room in a 3-0 win at Bridgestone Arena.

Babcock expects a similar match-up tonight, though the Predators seemingly have nothing to play for, which became obvious this morning when it was announced that backup goalie Chris Mason would get the start against the Red Wings, instead of veteran No. 1 Pekka Rinne.

This season, Mason is 1-2-1 while allowing 14 goals on 98 shots in four starts. His last start was last week when he surrendered five goals on 18 shots in a 5-2 loss to Dallas.

Still, Babcock isn’t ready to let his guard down, especially since his team is playing the second night of a back-to-back.

“Last night you were playing the Stanley Cup champions and tonight you’re playing a team that’s out of the playoffs,” Babcock said. “No disrespect to them, but that sometimes effects your mindset and we can’t let that happen.

“Nashville has played us hard each and every night I’ve been here and has beaten us a bunch so we have to be prepared and start on time.”

Shea Weber
Defense - NSH
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 18 | PTS: 26
SOG: 120 | +/-: -1
PLAYER TO WATCH

D SHEA WEBER – The two-time Norris Trophy runner-up is one of three players to appear in every game for the Predators this season. The others are center David Lewand and defenseman Roman Josi. … Weber leads the Predators with 26 points and registered his sixth multi-point game on the season with two assists in Tuesday’s 4-3 win against Calgary. Weber is the only defensemen in the league ranked among the top 25 at the position in hits (106) and blocked shots (88) while averaging more than 25-minutes of ice-time. … Weber, who made his NHL debut at Joe Louis Arena during the 2005-06 season, has produced nine goals and 12 goals in 44 career games against the Red Wings.

NUMEROLOGY

Season Series: 2-0-1

2011-12 Season Series: 3-3-0

All-Time Series Season: 48-24-4-8

Nashville’s Season Record: 16-21-9

Top Scorer vs. Red Wings: David Legwand – 1 Goal, 4 Assists in 9 Games.

Red Wings’ Top Scorer – Pavel Datsyuk – 3 Goals, 8 Assists in 8 Games.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

SCHEDULE

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PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80