The Detroit Red Wings got past the Ducks in the opening round, but not without some mistakes and hiccups. A brutal seven game series was not only tough due to the amount of games played but the travel arrangement sucked just as much. Basically the Red Wings went through another grueling series with a big tough West coast team, possibly for the last time. Nothing could get tougher than that, right?
Welcome the Chicago Blackhawks.
What more can we say about the Chicago Blackhawks besides the fact that they easily (as easy as a 5 game series gets) dispatched of the Minnisota Wild and have been resting for about a week now waiting for their next opponent? They have the firepower and they have the goaltending. Their defense is probably the best overall out of any team when it comes to skating and moving the puck up the ice very quickly. If you fall asleep for just one second you will find their forwards sprinting behind you and racing for an odd man rush, with you staring at the back of their jerseys.
This team is a well oiled machine that does not take prisoners, as the Wild learned the hard way. They had glimpses of hope and tried to challenge the Hawks physically, but all of this came to nothing as the Hawks calmly stayed their course and sent the Wild home in five games.
The Detroit Red Wings have rarely been an underdog in the playoffs in recent memory and most refused to treat them as such against the Ducks. In this series you will be hard pressed to find any one giving this series to the Wings. The reason for this? How much time do you have?
The defense of Detroit was caught running around and out of position against the Ducks more than once and it resulted in goals against. The concern with the Hawks is that their forwards are more skilled and are much faster than what the Ducks have. This could (maybe will) make the young blood of Wings back end even more confused and will push them to the breaking point. Good experience, yes, but a tough way to learn.
There is also the match-up factor that really is what most playoffs come down to. While Z and Dats could and did out play Perry and Getzlaf, in my eyes Toews, Kane, and Hossa are just as good as Pav and Hank. While perhaps you can make a case for other Detroit forwards matching up well with the speed of Chicago’s top six, you really can’t argue against the skill factor from top to bottom being heavily tilted to Hawks side. While the Detroit penalty kill was less than stellar against the Ducks, it will have to be way better against the potent powerplay the Hawks have.
The Wings lost all four games to Chicago during the regular season too, so pack it in and close the book? Well, there is hope for the Wing fans.
Corey Crawford has been nothing short of spectacular, but he has not faced the same attack Detroit can offer. Detroit is highly effective at attacking the net and creating some havoc in front of goal will go a long way in this series. Patrick Sharp will also be guarded and defended a bit better as Wings have the speed and defensively active forwards that will keep a better eye on this guy, as he has five goals in five games. Zetterberg and Datsyuk are very clutch and can score timely goals, something that Mini lacked.
As Babcock said in one of the post game interviews and has made a great point, “We did not have a third line when we played them during the season and now Brunner, Andersson, and Nyquist give us a solid third line”.
The key for Detroit is in matching-up three solid lines against the Hawks, which will have to be the difference maker as it has been during the last few games of the season and against the Ducks. Let us not forget that three victories out of the four came in games that the Hawks won in OT during the regular season, so this is not a cake walk for anyone. It usually isn’t when two bitter rivals play.
Jimmy Howard will have to be much better than he was against the Ducks, if that is even possible (he played very, very well for the most part). The young defense will have to be better than they were against the Ducks. Detroit’s third line will have to be better than they were against the Ducks. Overall, it might be asking too much from a rather young Detroit Red Wings and I see a valiant effort falling a bit short.
Hawks in six games, but this will get dramatic.
Let’s check on our other writers:
Ben Kerr: The Red Wings are playing their best hockey of the season and upset the Ducks on home ice in game 7. Meanwhile Chicago steamrolled the Wild into a 5 game win. I think this will be a close series, but this is Chicago’s year in the Western Conference. Hawks in 6.
Russell McKenzie: Mike Babcock may have been able to out-coach the Ducks, but the Hawks will dominate. Look for the Q-Stache to do the happy dance at the end of this series. Hawks in 5.
Mitch Tierney: The Wings surprised a lot of people, myself included, to reach the second round. But don’t expect the Hawks to be as surprised, they are both ready and hungry. Hawks in 6.
Wed May 15, 2013 Red Wings @ Blackhawks 7:00 PM CBC, RDS, NBCSN
Sat May 18, 2013 Red Wings @ Blackhawks 12:00 PM CBC, NBC, RDS
Mon May 20, 2013 Blackhawks @ Red Wings 6:30 PM CBC, RDS, NBCSN
Thu May 23, 2013 Blackhawks @ Red Wings 7:00 PM CBC, RDS2, NBCSN
Sat May 25, 2013 Red Wings @ Blackhawks TBD CBC, RDS
Mon May 27, 2013 Blackhawks @ Red Wings TBD CBC, RDS2
Wed May 29, 2013 Red Wings @ Blackhawks TBD CBC, RDS2
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