Some recent offensive inconsistency has the Detroit Red Wings hoping some valuable reinforcements will arrive soon.
After being shut out for the second time this season, the Red Wings could get a boost if injured stars Pavel Datsyuk(notes) and Tomas Holmstrom(notes) are ready to return Saturday night to help hand the host Nashville Predators a fifth straight loss.
Both players are recovering from broken hands. Datysuk has missed 18 games due to the injury and Holmstrom seven. The team has said both could return as early as Saturday.
Though Detroit (31-14-6) is second in the Western Conference, it has struggled for consistency on the offensive end during a modest 4-3-1 stretch. The Red Wings have scored 20 goals in the four victories during that span, and four in the four losses.
After a 7-5 win at Ottawa on Wednesday, the Red Wings couldn’t convert on 34 shots in Friday’s 3-0 home loss to Columbus.
It’s games like Friday’s where Detroit can use the services of Datsyuk and Holmstrom, who have combined for 23 goals and 38 assists this season.
The teams have split two meetings this season, both in Detroit. The Predators won the most recent, 3-2 on Dec. 8.
Franzen had five goals Wednesday at Ottawa, but none in his last three visits to Nashville.
Second in the Central and seven points behind the division-leading Red Wings, the Predators (27-18-7) are trying to avoid their third five-game losing streak of the season.
Their current rough stretch has been particularly frustrating with each of the last three games decided by one goal. Nashville fell 3-2 at East-leading Philadelphia on Thursday. The Predators are 13-7-7 in one-goal games, compared with a 13-7-0 mark in games decided by three goals or more.
“It’s a wasted effort, as far as I’m concerned,” Weber said. “(It’s) very frustrating.”
Weber four goals and 13 assists his last 16 contests. He has one goal and an assist in his last three games against the Red Wings.
Rinne struggled during a 5-2 loss at Detroit on Oct. 30, but is 2-1-2 with a 1.58 goals-against average at home versus the Wings.