Before the first puck drop in the Western Conference Quarterfinals almost every expert is picking the Nashville Predators to top the Detroit Red Wings.
The Wings don’t buy it. And they don’t consider themselves to be underdogs headed into this series.
“Have I really been thinking that we’re underdogs? Not really,” Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard told Mlive.com’s Ansar Khan this week. “I still think we’re one of the better teams in the League. It just happens that we hit a stretch that wasn’t very kind to us.”
It seems everyone has already forgotten that Detroit set an NHL record with 23 consecutive home victories in February. But, with all due respect, Detroit’s recent play is a big reason for the doubt and why people are leaning toward Nashville.
Of course, after that stretch the Wings were plagued by injuries to their top players, including captain Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and starting goaltender Jimmy Howard. It’s been rocky since that point, that saw a mixture of highs and lows in the last 20 games, and the Wings wound up losing a seesaw battle for home ice advantage with the Predators.
“So what’s changed between now and then?” Wings coach Mike Babcock told the Detroit News. “We’ve had some injuries. But our real team is gonna be starting the playoffs. I’m confident and they’re confident. For whatever reason, year after year, we seem to find ways to win games. I’ve been here seven years and we’ve won tons of playoff games. I expect that to continue.
But Babcock said his team is “hungry” for another Stanley Cup title.
“These guys here are hungry,” he said. “Kenny Holland is hungry. Jimmy Nill’s hungry. Jimmy D’s (Devellano) hungry. Mr. Ilitch looooves to win. I loooove that.”
Western Conference Quarterfinals
DETROIT (48-26-8) at NASHVILLE (48-26-8)
Wednesday, April 11, 8 p.m.
Bridgestone Area, Nashville
TV: CNBC, CBC, RDS2, FS-D (HD), SPSO (HD)
Last 10 Games
DET:Patrick Eaves (concussion) and Joey MacDonald (back) are out.
Danny Cleary (knee soreness) and Helm (knee sprain) are questionable.
NSH: Hal Gill (lower body/foot) is questionable.