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Red Wings A Bit Banged Up Playing the Predators Tonight

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Dylan Larkin, Red Wings

When the Detroit Red Wings lost Michael Rasmussen to injury and then traded away Tyler Bertuzzi, Oskar Sundqvist and Jakub Vrana, the remaining players felt like they were playing shorthanded.

But Detroit captain Dylan Larkin said Sunday, after a 5-3 win against the Boston, that the team’s focus and outlook were back to normal.

“This last week we had the one game against Chicago where we had two practices days, before and after, where it was pretty big for us to reset and get our minds focused on what we have to do to finish out the season.” Larkin said. “The emotions are kind of behind us and we can just play.”

The Red Wings’ 3-6-1 record over the last 10 games has put a halt to chatter about making the playoffs. But the Red Wings still have a long-odds shot. If the Red Wings (30-27-9) beat the Nashville Predators tonight (8 p.m. ET) on the road, they would only be five points behind the idle New York Islanders for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

Coach Derek Lalonde said this morning that three unidentified Red Wings have medical issues today, and each will be a game-time decision. Even though the presumption is they will be ready to play, the Red Wings called up Matt Luff from the Grand Rapids Griffins just in case.

Surging Predators

Beating the Predators is no simple task: Nashville is 7-2-1 in its past 10 games. The Predators are six points out of a playoff spot and they have three games in hand to both of the current wild card teams (Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets).

Detroit has been the better scoring team, but not by much. The Red Wings rank 22nd at 2.98 and the Predators are 25th at 2.84. The Red Wings have been better on the power play, particularly lately. They go into this game with power play goals in three consecutive games.

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The Predators boast one of the league’s most consistent netminders in Juuse Saros. According to IcyData.com, he ranks sixth in the NHL with 17.37 goals prevented over the average NHL netminder. By contrast, Detroit netminder Ville Husso, who has had a strong season, is at -4.18. Nashville ranks fifth in team save percentage (.913), while Detroit (.896) is 20th.

The Red Wings are trying to rally around the notion of succeeding in the face of the late-season personnel losses.

Said Larkin: “I think it’s even more fun winning without those guys to show how much character is in that locker room to really push here towards the end of the season.”