Preview: Red Wings at Predators
The Detroit Red Wings have missed the playoffs in each of the last three seasons after qualifying 25 straight times and will be hard-pressed to rejoin the party even with a faster start this year. Detroit lost its first seven games last season (0-5-2) and hopes to come out of the gate running when it visits the Nashville Predators on Saturday in its 2019-20 opener.
"In the room here we just want to have a good start to the year," Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser told reporters. "We know last year's start wasn't good enough and it's hard when you get behind the eight-ball like that ... We can't let that happen again. We just want to start early out of the gate and keep going from there. Confidence is a funny thing when guys start playing and you're winning, guys are playing well you get things rolling, anything can happen." Detroit will be led by Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou, who has missed much of the preseason with an undisclosed injury and is unlikely to play Saturday. Nashville kicked off its season by scoring four goals in the third period to defeat Minnesota 5-2 on Thursday with Matt Duchene recording three assists in his Predators debut. “I think for him, if you ask him, this is his home,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette told reporters about Duchene, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2009 draft who signed a seven-year $56 million contract during the offseason. “Nashville is his home. He wants to be here. He wants this to be a place where he thrives. He’s bringing that to work right now, and it really shows.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS Detroit, FS Tennessee (Nashville)
ABOUT THE RED WINGS (2018-19: 32-40-10, SEVENTH IN THE ATLANTIC): Larkin left practice early Tuesday after a collision but told reporters "nothing serious happened" and said he will play Saturday. Anthony Mantha (25) and Tyler Bertuzzi (21) recorded career highs in goals last season and will be counted on to add scoring depth. Jimmy Howard, who is third in team annals with 244 victories, gets the call in goal Saturday.
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (1-0-0): Mikael Granlund scored Thursday as he begins his first full season in Nashville after he was acquired at the trade deadline in February. Pekka Rinne, who has won at least 30 games in each of the last five seasons and eight times in his career, made 22 saves against Minnesota. Viktor Arvidsson (team-high 34 goals last season) skated on a line with Duchene and Granlund, and contributed third-period tally.
1. Nashville had the worst power play in the league last season at 12.9 percent and was 0-for-2 on Thursday while Detroit had the fourth-worst penalty-killing unit (77.1 percent) in 2018-19.
2. The Predators play 10 of their first 14 games at home.
3. The Red Wings won both meetings last season - 4-3 in overtime at home and 3-2 on the road - with Larkin scoring in each game, including the OT goal.
PREDICTION: Predators 3, Red Wings 2