Breakdown: Red Wings vs. Predators

Updated: April 21, 2004, 2:44 PM ET
By Brian Engblom | Special to ESPN.com

EDGE
5-on-5
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.

KEY PLAYERS
DETROIT
Manny Legace
He's been a tremendous backup but how will he handle the pressure of being the main man in the postseason?
NASHVILLE
Marek Zidlicky
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.
EDGE
Detroit power play vs. Nashville penalty kill
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.

EDGE
EVEN
Nashville power play vs. Detroit penalty kill
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.

EDGE
EVEN
Goaltending
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.

EDGE
EVEN
Coaching
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.

EDGE
Intangibles
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.

EDGE
Prediction
Detroit in five.

Brian Engblom

NHL reporter/analyst
Brian Engblom serves as the ice level reporter for ESPN's National Hockey Night telecasts (since 1995) and for ABC Sports' NHL telecasts (since 2000). He's provided analysis on ESPN2 NHL telecasts since joining the network in September 1993.

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