Series Preview : Dressed In Snakeskin Suits Packed With Detroit Muscle

USA TODAY Sports

Time to take a look at our old rivals from Motwon before we give them what they want; a trip to the Eastern Conference.

Chicago Blackhawks (1) vs Detroit Red Wings (7)

Series Schedule

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

DATE RESULT GWG
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
Joakim Andersson
Defense
Jonathan Ericsson Niklas Kronwall
Jakub Kindl Brendan Smith
Kyle Quincey Ian White
Carlo Colaiacovo
Brian Lashoff
Goaltender
Jimmy Howard
Jonas Gustavsson

Key Injuries

F Darren Helm - back (out for season); F Drew Miller - hand (out for season); D Danny DeKeyser - thumb (out for playoffs).

Red Wings Playoff Stats

POS NAME GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM SHOTS PCT ATOI
L Henrik Zetterberg 7 3 5 8 3 1 0 1 4 30 10 20:30
C Pavel Datsyuk 7 2 5 7 2 0 0 0 0 23 8.7 21:10
R Daniel Cleary 7 2 3 5 -1 1 0 0 2 9 22.22 16:37
C Damien Brunner 7 2 3 5 -1 0 0 1 4 15 13.33 13:26
C Valtteri Filppula 7 1 3 4 -1 0 0 1 4 16 6.25 18:00
C Johan Franzen 7 3 0 3 -5 3 0 0 6 23 13.04 20:00
L Justin Abdelkader 5 2 1 3 4 0 1 0 15 15 13.33 16:42
R Mikael Samuelsson 5 1 1 2 -1 0 0 0 2 8 12.5 13:04
D Kyle Quincey 7 0 2 2 -2 0 0 0 6 10 0 19:03
D Jakub Kindl 7 0 2 2 1 0 0 0 2 7 0 18:33
D Brendan Smith 7 1 1 2 -3 0 0 0 4 7 14.29 19:26
C Joakim Andersson 7 0 2 2 -1 0 0 0 6 10 0 14:44
C Gustav Nyquist 7 1 1 2 1 1 0 1 0 11 9.09 13:10
D Niklas Kronwall 7 0 1 1 -2 0 0 0 0 6 0 25:20
D Jonathan Ericsson 7 0 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 5 0 21:50
R Patrick Eaves 6 0 1 1 -2 0 0 0 4 8 0 10:14
R Todd Bertuzzi 5 0 0 0 -2 0 0 0 2 6 0 10:00
D Carlo Colaiacovo 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 15:25
R Jordin Tootoo 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6:24
C Cory Emmerton 6 0 0 0 -4 0 0 0 2 6 0 11:02
D Brian Lashoff 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 18:00
D Danny DeKeyser 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 17:53

NAME GP GA GAA SA PCT SO ENG W L OTL MOI ATOI PIM G A
Jimmy Howard 7 20 2.74 224 0.911 0 0 4 3 1 438 62:37:00 2 0 0

Forwards

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.

Defense

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.

Goaltending

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.

Special Teams

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.

Prediction

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.

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