|Game 1||DET @ CHI||Weds May 15 6pm|
|Game 2||DET @ CHI||Sat May 18, 12pm|
|Game 3||CHI @ DET||Mon May 20, 6:30pm|
|Game 4||CHI @ DET||Thurs May 23, 7pm|
|*Game 5||DET @ CHI||Sat May 25, TBD|
|*Game 6||CHI @ DET||Mon May 27, TBD|
|*Game 8||DET @ CHI||Weds May 29, TBD|
Regular Season Series
|1/21||CHI 2 DET 1 (OT)||Leddy|
|3/3||CHI 2 DET 1 (SO)||Kane|
|3/31||CHI 7 DET 1||Morin|
|4/12||CHI 3 DET 2 (SO)||Saad|
Red Wings Depth Chart
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Henrik Zetterberg||Pavel Datsyuk||Damien Brunner|
|Johan Franzen||Valtteri Filppula||Todd Bertuzzi|
|Dan Cleary||Gustav Nyquist||Justin Abdelkader|
|Jordin Tootoo||Cory Emmerton||Patrick Eaves|
|Jonathan Ericsson||Niklas Kronwall|
|Jakub Kindl||Brendan Smith|
|Kyle Quincey||Ian White|
Red Wings Playoff Stats
The Red Wings forwards begin with Pavel Datsyuk and captain Henrik Zetterberg, two of the best two way forwards in the league. Justin Abdelkader rounds out the top line, that is, if he is not suspended for throwing elbows at the skulls of opposing players. Abdelkader is the type of player who can be a huge pain in the ass over the course of a playoff series. This is the type of line that used to be the assignment of Dave Bolland's line, but if Bolly is going to be on the 2nd line, that is not an ideal match up. The Wings will need continued production out of their 2nd line of Franzen, Flippula and Cleary, who put up 12 points against the Ducks. The Wings are going to have problems matching up with the Hawks 3rd and 4th lines. The Ducks did not have nearly the amount of depth that we have luxury of in Chicago. This will be one of the biggest advantages the Hawks have in the series.
It is a giant relief to go into a playoff series with the Wings and not have to deal with #5 in red. Gone are the days of Niklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski. You still have to worry about Niklas Kronwall and one of his "legal" hits. Just like with the forwards, the Wings depth at the blue line should be exposed in this series. There is not much experience after the top paring of Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson. The Ducks pressured the younger defensemen into mistakes early on in their series. Hopefully this is something the Blackhawks can take advantage of as well. The Hawks defensive core was a combined +16 against the Wild, with Nick Leddy (-1) being the only defenseman to finish the series as a negative. The Wings defensemen finished off their seven game series a combined -4. Detroit gave up an average of exactly 3 goals a game versus Anaheim, the most by any team who advanced out of the first round.
Jimmy Howard comes into this series with just 4 wins in 16 career starts versus the Blackhawks. But, all of those games came into the regular season. The match up between Howard and Hawks' goaltender Corey Crawford is pretty even. Both Howard and Crawford will only go as far as the guys in front of them play. Crow has the better numbers and a lot of that has to do with facing less shots. The Hawks D has only given up an average of 27.8 shots per game, in the post season, compared to the 32.1 shots the Wings D has allowed. Howard has yet to show that he can put in a dominating "stand on your head" type series in the playoffs. I would prefer he wait until the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals before he pulls one off. Howard has also been bothered with a sore hamstring which caused him to leave practice early today. This is something that will need to be monitored through the course of the series.
Both teams boasted better penalty kills than power plays during the regular season. We all know that the Hawks power play was one of the few lowlights of a very successful year. The Wings power play did not fair much better from a percentage standpoint, but they did score 9 more PPGs than the Hawks, while getting 35 more chances. The Wings scored 6 power play goals in 25 chances (24%) against the Ducks. On the flip side, their penalty kill gave up 7 goals to Anaheim's power play. Their 72% kill rate is by far the lowest from any of the remaining 8 teams. The Hawks are the only team yet to give up a power play goal in the playoffs, killing off all 17 penalties versus the WIld.
I think this will be a pretty close and hotly contested series. I don't see any repeats of the 7 to 1 drubbing the Hawks dished out on their last trip to the Joe, but I wouldn't complain if the Hawks pulled one of those out. Considering 3 of the 4 regular season games went to overtime, and the teams have already played in a combined 5 OT games this post season, I can see at least 3 games going past 60 minutes. These two teams both want to use their high level of skill to beat you, not thuggery. We are going to have some great games ahead of us but in the end the Hawks depth will eventually be too much to the Red Wings to handle. Blackhawks in 6.