NHL Playoffs Pick 'em: Nashville Predators (4) vs. Detroit Red Wings (5)

Here come the playoffs...

Some of the members at Lighthouse Hockey are chiefly Islanders-centric fans who avoid the playoffs as a way of forgetting their misfortune, and some are NHL hockey addicts who will watch everything (raises hand) until the Cup is raised as long as it's not raised by a villain.

We'll have a mix of food for both as April's playoff frenzy fades into June's lone final series, which fades into ogling teenagers again and wondering what on Earth we've done with the last six months of mortal coil.

Nas-slim_medium Det-slim_medium
Predators (4th seed) vs. Red Wings (5th)
48-26-8, 104 pts. - 48-28-6, 102 pts
SB Nation Tribalists: On the Forecheck | Winging It in Motown

A few Islanders news bits below, followed by our first playoff series preview and poll. Look for many more of these in the days before the 1st round NHL playoff series get under way.

Islanders Bits

Playoffs

Predators vs. Red Wings: Profile and Poll

Nas-slim_medium Det-slim_medium
Predators (4th seed) vs. Red Wings (5th)
48-26-8, 104 pts. - 48-28-6, 102 pts
Season series: 3-3, all regulation endings
SBN Tribalists: On the Forecheck | Winging It in Motown

Overview

The first thing that strikes me about this series is how very close these two division rivals are: Separated by just two points -- a shootout here and there -- and a season series that featured each team winning three and losing three in regulation (2-1 on home ice). The goal difference in that series? 16-14 for Detroit.

Of course, the Wings outshot Nashville 199-140(!) in the season series, which brings to mind another point: The Red Wings are still a dominant possession team, and the Predators are still a good team with a great goalie in Pekka Rinne.

It's actually a little stunning how the Predators' even-strength/score-close (Fenwick/Close) possession figures are still near the bottom of the league after 82 games. As Travis Hughes noted in that "6 Questions" link above, no other playoff team is in the bottom 10. Having the NHL's top powerplay at 21.7 percent sure helps.

But the Predators have loaded up in the Stay Ryan Suter Stay campaign, both through the trade deadline and by bringing Alex Radulov back to "fulfill" his contract obligations. They are a dangerous team.

History

The Predators finally, at long last, got over the hump and won a playoff series last season. But that was over the marginal Ducks. This year they must slay the dragon, their Central Division nemesis that has ousted them twice before in the playoffs.

No pressure or anything. If they lose, Suter has an excuse to flee.

This will be the first time the Predators have home ice against the Wings, which should make for a doozie of a series every bit as interesting as the Battle of Pennsylvania 4 vs. 5 match in the East. Both series begin Wednesday night though, so already the NHL playoff cup overfloweth.

Random X-Factor We'll Make A Big Deal Of

Coaches. Two very good ones. Will Boris, or the Clapper prevail?

Mike-babcock-clapping-o_medium

Bravo. Bra...vo.

TV Schedule

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 8 p.m. Detroit at Nashville CNBC, CBC
Friday, April 13, 2012 7:30 p.m. Detroit at Nashville CNBC, CBC
Sunday, April 15, 2012 Noon Nashville at Detroit NBC, CBC
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 7:30 p.m. Nashville at Detroit NBC Sports Network, CBC
*Friday, April 20, 2012 8 p.m. Detroit at Nashville CNBC, CBC
*Sunday, April 22, 2012 TBD Nashville at Detroit TBD
*Tuesday, April 24, 2012 TBD Detroit at Nashville TBD

Pick 'em

Make your pick in the poll. But for commenting purposes, we like to hear both who you think will win and who you want to win.

Heart Says: Predators in seven. Because that would be fun.

Head Says: Red Wings in seven. Because that's how these cruel things go.

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