Breakdown: Red Wings vs. Predators
Updated: April 21, 2004, 2:44 PM ETBy Brian Engblom | Special to ESPN.com
The Red Wings have depth and playoff experience at every spot, so they get the advantage. Steve Sullivan has been a standout for the Predators, though, and if he can be effective this area will be a little closer.
He's been a tremendous backup but how will he handle the pressure of being the main man in the postseason?
The rookie defenseman is not well-known, but he has had a dramatic affect on the offense. He will have to be big on the power play and handle the puck well for the Predators to have a chance.
Detroit has an outstanding power play that can give the opponents a lot of different looks, and experience is a factor here as well. The one thing the Wings will have to avoid, though, is becoming reckless on the power play because Nashville scored 14 shorthanded goals during the regular season.
The Predators get a lot of power play opportunities and scored 72 power play goals during the season. Their percentage is not as high as Detroit's but in the playoffs percentage does not matter as much as when the power-play goals are scored. The Wings have the top penalty-killing unit in the league, but a team's best penalty killer has to be its goaltender and Detroit's Manny Legace is facing his first playoff challenge.
Tomas Vokoun has played well all season for the Predators but Legace is somewhat underrated. Neither has playoff experience and both were solid during the regular season, so this looks like a wash.
Nashville's Barry Trotz is underrated and can do more with his team than most think, while Dave Lewis learned a lot from last season's sweep at the hands of Anaheim in his first playoff year as the head coach. Another wash.
Detroit's veteran leadership and experience with guys like Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Brett Hull, Nicklas Lidstrom and others is huge. The Red Wings are also hungry after being embarrassed by Anaheim last season and want to prove they still have something in the tank.
Detroit in five.
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