- Craig Custance
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DETROIT -- The Red Wings are averaging 34.5 shots per game this postseason, more than every team except for Vancouver and Chicago. They're allowing just 22.8 shots per game, considerably fewer than any other team in the playoffs.
So the message from the Red Wings, during their final day off before a Game 5 in which they face elimination, is to stay the course. With a caveat. At some point, some of these shots have to beat Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who has been the difference-maker in a series Nashville leads 3-1.
Forward Valtteri Filppula summed it up perfectly.
"I think we've had good success other than scoring," he said. "The most important part, we haven't done a good enough job ... trying to find ways to get more goals."
During the two games in Detroit, the Predators did a good job collapsing and forcing many of Detroit's shots to come from the outside. But Red Wings coach Mike Babcock takes exception to those who suggest his team isn't getting quality scoring chances. Even when that suggestion comes from those close to the organization.
"I even hear Mickey Redmond say, 'They're keeping them on the outside,'" said Babcock, who watched plenty of film to analyze the scoring chances. "I watched [Game 4] three times to see if that's the truth. To see if we're never getting to the net, we're never getting on the inside, and all I can go off is what I see, and I don't think that's the truth. So we have to find a way to score."
Rinne has done a fantastic job catching everything and limiting Detroit's second chances, so the Red Wings will have to do a better job avoiding his glove side if the Red Wings want any hope of creating rebounds. They also have to keep a strong net presence.
"But I don't think we can tell our guys to stop shooting," Babcock said. "I'd like us to play the same way we played last game, with the exception of the two [Nashville scoring] plays."
If the Predators can be more disciplined than they have been in this series so far, the scoring issues might never get cleaned up for the Red Wings, because Nashville has enjoyed a strong advantage during 5-on-5 play. The Predators' 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio is a playoff-best 3.00 during this series, while the Red Wings are a playoff-worst 0.33.
The more the Predators can keep Detroit's power play off the ice, the better chance they have of avoiding another trip to Detroit. And that's the ultimate goal in Nashville, where the Predators aren't taking their 3-1 series lead lightly.
"It's definitely not comfortable when you have a talented team like Detroit trying to win," said defenseman Kevin Klein, who has single-handedly outscored Detroit's defensemen corps, 2-1. "You lose Game 5 and all of a sudden you're back in Detroit with Game 6, and then anything can happen."
10dScott Burnside and Craig Custance