This guy played a role.

Game in a Sentence:

Another game, another result as the Preds and Wings went blow for blow once again. With the win, the Preds are within a home victory of moving on to the next round.

Observations:

- This game was as advertised. Good pace, great work ethic and plenty of tight checking hockey. Oh and I guess the goaltenders played alright. They’ve been known to do that.

- As we hashed out in the comment section of the game thread, the first goal was crucial in establishing a winner. Nashville didn’t have a ton in the way of scoring chances or shots on goal (just 10 after two periods) but breaking the deadlock allowed them to play their system, even if Detroit equalized.

- Kevin Klein is one of the most underrated defensemen in hockey. He’s very strong in his own end, has a high motor and is rarely caught out of position. The Preds, unlike a lot of teams, don’t have to worry as much when their top pairing isn’t on the ice against the opposition’s scoring pair. Even with last change, the Wings have the ability to match whoever they want against Klein and he still clamped down.

- The Red Wings were clearly driven by their top two lines but they need more from the likes of Bertuzzi and Franzen. Bertuzzi has been a non-factor in this series outside of dealing with Weber and Franzen’s contribution was a puck that bounced off of him and spearing a guy on the bench. These guys are meant to make a much more meaningful impact than that.

- I’ve seen mixed reviews on his play thus far but I’ve been really frustrated watching Brad Stuart this post-season. Down low he has been a big liability and I just don’t think he has the stamina or strength to deal with this Nashville team.

- I love Nashville’s “high cycle” that they play on top of the faceoff circle. It’s not often you get the Red Wings running around but they’ve employed it very effectively a couple of times in this series and it has been fun to watch. Great movement and great creativity.

- Alex Radulov continues to leave me wanting more. Maybe the Red Wings just have the book on him. The work ethic is clearly there but his execution is not. I’m thinking a couple good bounces could get him rolling but who knows.

- Jiri Hudler has quietly been one of the Red Wings top forwards this series. He has created with the puck and away from the puck and the goal he scored tonight was a testament to that. He often gets overshadowed by the Datsyuks and Zetterbergs but he is an impact player for that team nonetheless.

- Speaking of unheralded Red Wings, Dan Cleary is a guy I constantly notice when he is on the ice. He drives the rush for Detroit and really mixes it up well down low. He’s not going to break a game open for them but he is great at wearing down a defence.

- Unheralded guy for Nashville: David Legwand. No he’s not your conventional top five draft pick (read: you could argue he’s a bust), but when you look at that draft for guys who consistently improve their team’s level of play on a nightly basis he’s certainly among the top names.

- I think Kyle Quincey has had a solid playoffs for Detroit. Yeah, they gave up a lot for him but his youth and tenacity really stick out in my mind. Ian White gets praised because he’s a guy who has had a pedigree for good work with clubs that get media attention, but Quincey has been a solid citizen in LA and Colorado and contributes more to the team in my mind. I thought I’d throw that out there and see what you think.

- Poor Jimmy Howard. He plays well each night and somehow winds up taking losses. The first two goals were lapses in defensive zone coverage and I’m still not sure what that third goal was. He’s had a good series regardless of his numbers.

- Pekka Rinne is a stud. He continues to put this Predators team on his back and will them to victory at times. The Preds do a good job of keeping shooters to the outside but Rinne is always up to the task. From a pure technical standpoint I love watching him play. Always in position, always quiet in his movements, just so skilled at playing the position. Rarely makes mistakes.

- Just a hunch but I think the Preds take this series in game five. That building will be rocking and they just seem to be getting the bounces. Too bad for the Red Wings. Had they finished any where else in the conference I think they’d be in much better shape.

My Three Stars:

1) Pekka Rinne (SHOCKER!)
2) Kevin Klein
3) Dan Cleary