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2012 NHL Playoffs: Detroit Red Wings Open Playoffs Against Nashville Predators Wednesday

The fifth-seeded Detroit Red Wings head to Nashville Wednesday night to take on the fourth-seeded Predators in the opening round of the NHL playoffs.

Detroit coach Mark Babcock believes the key will be the play of goaltender Jimmy Howard. Via the Associated Press:

"Our goaltender was outstanding for us for a long time and then hurt for a long time. It looks like he's on his way back," Babcock said. "He's going to have to look at the guy across in net and outplay him."

Predators goalie Pekke Rinne led the NHL with 43 wins in the net, while facing more shots than any other goaltender in the league. Howard, meanwhile, won 35 games with a 2.13 goals against average and a save percentage of 0.92. He missed time due to injury, but if Howard is healthy he is a very good goaltender.

The Red Wings and the Predators split the season series 3-3, but the Predators will have home ice advantage after securing the four seed. Detroit has lost 10 of its last 14 games, while Nashville has won six of its last eight games.

For more on the National Hockey League playoffs, head over to the SB Nation NHL hub.