Yes, the Detroit Red Wings will open the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs on the road. But no, travel won’t be a concern this year.
For the past two years, the Wings have had to deal with west coast travels in the first round of the playoffs. But thanks to the one point they earned in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, Detroit locked up the No. 5 seed and the Western Conference and a meeting with Central Division rivals the No. 4 seed Nashville Predators.
“That’s great and we don’t have to travel across the country, which to me is the biggest thing,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Every matchup in the league is tough so to me the less travel you have the better off you are.
“We know Nashville good, they know us good, it’ll be fun going down to their building, it’s always exciting down there, we’ve played some good games in there this year, so that should be a lot of fun.”
The Predators will host the Wings in the first two games of the series at Bridgestone Arena next week.
“We just got to go down and win games there,” said Henrik Zetterberg. “We wanted to have home ice, we’re pretty good at home. We play good in their building. It’s a loud building, it’s a lot of fun. It’s going to be a challenge for us.”
Game 1 will be either Wednesday or Thursday.
The league will unveil the full schedule for the first round on Sunday afternoon.
GAME BROWSER: CHI 3, DET 2 (SO)
Most Valuable Wing: Pavel Datsyuk scored the game-tying goal with 46 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and earn the Wings the No. 5 seed-clinching extra point.
Three Stars: 1. Henrik Zetterberg (DET), 2. Patrick Sharp (CHI), 3. Pavel Datsyuk (DET)
CHI: V. Stalberg (10:14 – 1st), A. Shaw (17:20 – 2nd), P. Kane (SO)
DET: J. Franzen (08:11 – 3rd), P. Datsyuk (19:13 – 3rd)
CHI: C. Crawford (W)
DET: J. Howard (L)
The Good: The Red Wings were able to force overtime and therefore gain a valuable extra point to lock up the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference.
The Bad: The Red Wings blanked in the shootout, but luckily they got the one point they needed.
Key Stat: 5 –Seed for the Red Wings in the Western Conference.
Next Up: The Red Wings will face the Nashville Predators on the road to open the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs next week.