Actually, I'm kidding. While I am a fan of the team that has suddenly become the enemy for you guys, I hope you'll let me stick around, and not Scum me to death too much. Ask the folks over at Pensburgh, I'm not too bad a guy....they let me stick around all year, even after the Wings beat their guys while I was hanging out on their board during last year's SCF.
I scribbled the following as a response to the Ric Flair thread, but it got long enough, and I think useful enough as a conversation starter to merit a fanpost. Hope you'll agree....
Some of the references are to that thread, but I didn't go back and edit...as it's 1:45 AM, I hope you'll forgive me).
If it helps, (if someone tells me how to post a pic from my own computer) I can post a slightly fuzzy pic of Adam Burish from the night he led Wisconsin to the NCAA title as a pre-peace offering....
That said, take a look at what I'm thinking about this year's WCF series, and let me know where you think I'm a moron, or where you might even (*GASP!*) agree with me.
Wings fan, secondarily a Pens fan from hanging out at Pensburgh since last year's SCF and throughout this season, thinking both those teams will win their respective series' in 6 games.
The fact that I think the Wings will win scares me, since pessimism has served me very well over the past three years. The only time I thought the Wings would have an easy time of it was the 07 WCF, and the Ducks took us down that year.
So at least I can take small comfort in the thought that I don't think this will be an easy series by any stretch.
Lest you think I'm trolling (which some of ya will think regardless), here's my rationale: it starts with experience, with the Red Wings knowing how to win, and the Hawks being maybe a year or two away from having that same...foundation...not sure if that's the word I'm looking for. Your kids, and I say that fondly, because I'm up in Madison, WI, and the Blackhawks are the only team I can hear on over the air radio, grew up a lot in that first round series, and definitely impressed with the way they took out the Canucks, but you haven't had that bitter growing, learning experience yet that a lot of championship teams go through before rising to the top. Think of Jordan's Bulls coming up short against the experienced Bad Boys, taking their lumps in 89 and 90, before learning what it takes, and ruling the rest of the 90s. There might be an analogous succession in place going on here, with the same two cities involved (though I don't see any NHL team ever taking 6 out of 8 titles any more, too much parity, too much pressure on the shoulders of a single man, the goalie).
The second factor is that while the Wings are facing a much better rounded offensive team in the Hawks than they saw in the Ducks, the Hawks, while big, and capable of physicality, do not hit as much as the Ducks. Even as the Wings face better offensive pressure, so too will the Blackhawks. Calgary and Vancouver score 3.06 and 2.92 goals a game during the regular season...Detroit scored 3.52.
The stats from the site below can be used to show that the Blackhawks also score more than the Ducks (~3.2-2.9 as I posted above somewhere), and that the Hawks have a better goals against than Detroit....but as Chrome said (in the Ric Flair thread), nobody's expecting this series to feature a ton of 2-1 games. It's gonna be all about offense, and Detroit's scoring machine is second to none in the NHL.
The third leg of my argument comes, and I'm serious here, in the form of Chris Osgood. The man has won two cups as a #1 goaltender, and I believe would have won a third if Scotty Bowman had enough trust in him to start the playoffs in 1997. You compile all his stats together, and they're pretty much Hall of Fame numbers. And yet, he gets ripped, not only by opposing fans, but by Wings fans, too. You can say that he's not an elite goalie, and the GA stats might back you up, but he's a gamer, and more than that, he's a playoff performer with a proven track record. We Wings fans have gone through hell with this guy, starting with the 94 playoff series against the Sharks, where he throws a puck up the boards, right to Jamie Baker who makes no mistake in breaking our hearts...but he's also taken us to the heights of Mt. Stanley in 1998, as well as 2008. I'm perfectly happy to put our hopes on his shoulders yet again.
What gives me pause in this series is the Hawks offensive capabilities: it's not just that you guys can score, but that you can play a game that can match the Wings' own style. There's enough skill on the Hawks, lines 1-4, to keep up with the Red Wings offensively.
The fact that your team is younger, and far better rested (and less bruised up for not having to play the Ducks) is also a cause for concern, and I wouldn't be entirely surprised to see Chicago steal one of the first two games at the Joe (I'm thinking the Hawks steal game 1).
A third factor that will not get mentioned by the Versus types: Chicago really gets into their series, really generates hatred for the opponent...Detroit's a more cerebral type team, but the Hawks dragged the Flames into playing their mind games, and it's possible they can do the same to the Wings, to some degree.
Khabibulin also worries me to some degree....but....this isn't 2004. The fact that Vancouver lit him up for about 18 goals in a 6 game series
makes him less scary than he might have been, or was 3-5 years ago.
In the end, this is what it's going to come down to: as physical as the Hawks can be, they don't hit as much as the Ducks, and the don't play as dirty as Anaheim. The Red Wings have withstood that barrage, and survived, and I think the Red Wings will find more room to roam than they did against Anaheim, and they will make Chicago pay for it. I'm of the opinion that that will ultimately count for more than the youthful exuberance, and fresher legs of the Blackhawks, and allow the Red Wings to take the series in 6.
From the Red Wings perspective, I think it will go LWWLWW for the 4-2 final tally.
Would love to hear your opinion on this analysis.