NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Nashville Predators finished ahead of Detroit for the first time. Now the Predators challenge is doing something with home-ice advantage.
The Predators open the postseason Wednesday night against the Red Wings – the Central Division foe theyve measured themselves against since their first season in 1998-99.
So maybe its only appropriate the Predators start this postseason against Detroit in the first step of what they hope is a deep run.
Every time you get to the playoffs, its a new season, Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter said. Were excited about it. If we can get everyone on the same page, pulling the rope the same way, I feel like we have a good chance to do something special.
First, the Predators must show they can keep home-ice advantage after finishing fourth in the Western Conference for the third time in seven playoff berths.
Nashville lost to San Jose in 2006 and 2007 as the No. 4 seed, losing in five games to the San Jose Sharks each time.
This will be the third time Nashville has played the Red Wings in the playoffs, and the Predators lost in six games in 2004 and 2008 when Detroit had home-ice advantage.
These teams split the season series 3-3 with Nashville winning the last game 4-1 on March 30 in Detroit.
Henrik Zetterberg said the Red Wings have known since that last game they had a pretty good chance of playing Nashville to start the postseason. Finishing fifth helped them avoid a trip out West to play Phoenix, so travel will not be a problem in this series.
Nashvilles a good team, they made some good moves in the end there at the trading deadline, got the player from Russia, Zetterberg said of forward Alexander Radulov. Its going to be a tough series. Good goaltending, they play tight. We played them a lot so we know what to do.
Detroit finished with the NHLs best home record at 31-7-3 but struggled more on the road. The Red Wings go into the postseason 2-6-2 in their last 10 road games.
Nashville is pretty good at home too. The Predators ranked sixth in the league with a 26-10-5 record at Bridgestone Arena and 22-5-2 in their last 28 games. The NHLs best power play is a touch better at home where the Predators convert 22.9 percent.
The Predators also have the NHLs winningest goalie this season in Pekka Rinne, who went 43-18-8. Rinne said hes looking forward to the chance of starting against the Red Wings at home after a 6-1 win Saturday night in Colorado.
Thats going to be a great series, Rinne said.