One of the most common reactions to defeat in the NHL playoffs is to express a need for more traffic at the front of the net.
Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock did not disappoint in the wake of Nashville Predators’ 3-2 triumph Wednesday to open the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinals.
“I don’t think we were hard enough on their goaltender,” Babcock said Friday morning. “I think their goaltender made a couple huge saves. … I don’t think you can be surprised by great saves, but you have to get enough [pucks] there to his feet to get second chances.”
Through the first two days of the postseason (seven games), Pekka Rinne’s 35 saves tied him with Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo for the most in a contest that did not include overtime.
Game 2 is 6:30 p.m. Friday at Bridgstone Arena (SportSouth).
“You always expect that teams are going to try to get more in your face and maybe sometimes try to interfere with you and just put a lot of bodies in front of there,” Rinne said.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz was not concerned with the number of bodies in front of his goalie. He was, however, worried that the Red Wings were too close to Rinne in Game 1 when they were there.
“I know that they had a lot of their bodies in the blue paint,” Trotz said. “If they would have scored some goals they should have been called off — I do know that.
“They’re going to want to get net presence. That's part of Detroit’s tactic over the years. I could say for us, we need a lot more net presence. We didn’t have a lot last game.”
• Play nice: Players and coaches from both teams said they did not expect penalties to pile up the way they did two nights ago.
Nashville was called for 10 minor penalties and Detroit was called for seven. Thus far, no other team has been whistled for more than six.
Roughing (four times) was called most often. In all, 10 different infractions were whistled.
“I know we’re going to be more disciplined. I’m sure they will as well,” Predators captain Shea Weber, whose roughing violation at 20:00 of the third period was the last penalty, said. “It’s going to be fast and hard-hitting and hopefully not as many penalties and just good 5-on-5.
“Both teams were two of the most disciplined teams during the regular season, and last game I think everyone was just so ramped up and ready to go that maybe we just crossed the line.”
• Injury adjustment: Gustav Nyquist, a 22-year-old rookie forward, will make his NHL playoff debut for Detroit.
Nyquist takes the place of center Darren Helm, who sustained a serious forearm laceration early in Game 1. The injury required surgery at Vanderbilt Medical Center.
Helm returned for the start of the postseason after having missed the final 10 games of the regular season with a knee injury.
“We spent a day talking about how important he is and then we spend the next day talking about ‘Let’s move on.’ ” Babcock said.
Nyquist was a fourth-round pick in 2008 and a two-time Hobey Baker winner as college hockey’s best player at the University of Maine. He made his NHL debut this season and had seven points (one goal, six assists) in 18 games.
• Quote of note: “We can talk about seeing-eye pucks all you want. That’s what you do in the playoffs is you go to the net, you throw pucks there, you hope it hits something and goes in. When it goes in against you, you say it was a seeing-eye puck. When it goes in for you, you say that was a great goal.” — Babcock on how the Predators scored two of their three goals in the opener.
• Gill returns … briefly: Defenseman Hal Gill, who missed the opener with an injury, took the ice for the Predators’ morning skate but left the ice a short time later.
Gill said in the locker room afterward that he would not play in Game 2. Trotz declined to say whether Ryan Ellis or Jack Hillen would play in Gill’s place.
• Notable numbers: 0 – Predators power-play goals, on six attempts, Wednesday. They had at least one power-play goal in each of their first four playoff games in 2011.
18 — power-play goals allowed by Nashville in its last 19 postseason contests, dating back to the start of the Chicago series in 2010.
2 — times in franchise history the Predators have won consecutive postseason home games. Both were against Detroit.
12 — of the Predators’ 26 shots (46.1 percent) in the opener were from defensemen. Only 10 of Detroit’s 37 (27.0 percent) shots were from blue-liners.
15 — giveaways by Nashville in Game. 1. That was at least six more than any other team committed through the first two days of the postseason.