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Home 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs One more thing: Slew of penalties a subplot in Game 1
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One more thing: Slew of penalties a subplot in Game 1

The Predators and Red Wings were the two least penalized teams in the NHL during the regular season. Neither team showed that kind of discipline in last night’s Game One, as the two teams combined for 34 penalties in minutes and 14 power plays.

It was evident early in the game that it was going to be called very tight, different from how the games were called in the regular season. Both coaches were frustrated by the volume of penalties, but were men of few words after the game.

After his team’s 3-2 victory, Predators head coach Barry Trotz said he was “pretty surprised” at how the game was officiated.

Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock started off his press conference by simply asking, “Who are the least penalized teams in the NHL? What’s next?” (Babcock did call out the refs during an in-game interview.)

It’s pretty difficult for a coach to manage his lines and ice-time when there are so many penalties. A grand total of 22:35 of Game One featured special teams – over one-third of the game. Every time it appeared the game would settle down the officials would call another penalty, most of which were marginal.

“You kind of had a feeling they were going to start calling things right away just to set the tone, and they did,” Paul Gaustad said last night.

The Predators and Red Wings average 8.4 and 8.5 PIM per game, respectively. The Predators more than doubled their normal average, while the Red Wings came to doing so as well.

“Every game is different – settling into the game,” Matt Halischuk said. “Obviously today was more special teams, so you have to change your game and adjust.”

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This and That:

- The play (or incident) that has cast a shadow on last night’s Predators win is Shea Weber’s hit on Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg. It’s water cooler talk this morning amongst NHL fans, debating whether Weber should face supplementary discipline. It’s going to be a tough call for the NHL. TSN’s Bob McKenzie has as good of a pulse on these situations as anyone, and he doesn’t expect Weber to be suspended.

- The Predators survived without Hal Gill – barely. His replacement, Jack Hillen, logged only 8:20 of ice-time. He was solid, but it caused everyone else on the blue-line to see more shifts. It’s not something that is worrisome after one game, but if Gill’s injury lingers and he misses more time it could become a concern. Gill’s presence was missed on the penalty kill, as the Preds surrendered two goals on eight power plays against.

- After sort of being called out Babcock following morning skate, the role players for the Predators carried the load offensively. Babcock said the return of Darren Helm made him like the matchups against the Spaling and Gaustad lines. Well those two lines provided the three goals. Gabriel Bourque scored twice, Gaustad potted a goal from behind the goal line – and those were their first career playoff goals.

- Speaking of Gaustad – he proved last night why he was worth a first-round pick. He logged more ice-time shorthanded (6:27) than at even strength (5:04). He was very good on the penalty kill. He won 60% of his faceoffs; 63% in the defensive zone. He also won two big faceoffs in the final 30 seconds to help preserve the win.

- Special teams were supposed to be a strength of the Predators’ in this series. Last night they were not. Their top-ranked power play went 0-for-6, while the penalty kill gave up two goals. Babcock was pleased with the effort of his penalty kill; Trotz said his special teams have to be better.

- Detroit’s Darren Helm left the game last night in the first period with an upper-body injury. After the game, Babcock said Helm was at the hospital having surgery because his forearm was inadvertently cut by Alexander Radulov’s skate. It was Helm’s first game back from a knee injury. If he misses any length of time it will hurt the Red Wings; he is one of their key energy/depth players.

- Last night the Predators claimed a 1-0 series lead on Detroit for the first time in their brief playoff history. More importantly, the Predators have a chance to claim their first ever 2-0 series lead on Friday night.

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Smashville 24/7 3 stars of the night:
1. Gabriel Bourque (2 goals)
2. Pekka Rinne (35 saves)
3. Paul Gaustad (1 goal)

Recaps around the blogosphere:

Preds On The Glass Inside Smashville Section 303
The View from 111 Hockey Night in Nashville On The Forecheck
 
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