As a Red Wings fan, I hope the picture above is the last time I see a clean-shaven Henrik Zetterberg for a long time. After battling through a terrible February slump, the Red Wings are starting to come back to full strength. There are still a few injuries (Samuelsson, Maltby, Draper), but Brad Stuart and Tomas Holmstrom should be ready for Game 1.
(1) Detroit vs. (8) Nashville --- Detroit in 6 games.
The Red Wings simply have too much power and depth, and they should have no problem winning this series. Nashville has played them tough this season, and I think they'll win at least one game, but no way Detroit goes down.
I'm irked that Detroit lost Tomas Kopecky for the season, as he was really starting to throw his weight around (see McCarty article for my previous criticisms). I was at the Columbus game and was quite impressed with his play. I knew he was done for the year when he was injured, though; he looked pretty bad.
Anyway, Detroit has nine capable defenders in Lidstrom, Kronwall, Rafalski, Chelios, Lilja, Lebda, Meech, Ericsson, and Stuart. Darren McCarty has been solid up front when given playing time, and I'm a huge fan of Justin Abdelkader as well. Mark Hartigan can do his job, and Darren Helm is very reminiscent of Kris Draper. Dominik Hasek has looked more stable as of late, and if he falters, the Wings don't lose an edge with Chris Osgood in net. Even with injuries, Detroit will be fine.
Nashville has too many question marks. If the Arnott line can't produce, who will step up and score? Will Alexander Radulov produce in his second trip to the playoffs? Most of all, though, I don't think many people are too confident in the goaltending situation.
Dan Ellis, now the #1, has struggled with consistency. Can he handle the pressure of the playoffs having played only one game prior to this season? Barry Trotz is not afraid to use Chris Mason, but he hasn't had a great year compared to a season ago.
All in all, as I said, I see Detroit winning the series in six games at the most. Nashville is a scrappy team who has played the Wings tough, but this will be the fourth time in four chances that Nashville goes out in the first round.