It took seven games, but the Detroit Red Wings were able to take down the second seeded Anaheim Ducks. The Red Wings now focus their attention to the top seeded team in the playoffs and long time rival, the Chicago Blackhawks.
[singlepic id=70 w=484 h=100 float=center]
Matchup: Detroit Red Wings vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Venue: United Center; Chicago, IL
Time: 8:00 PM EST
Television: National- NBC Sports Network; CBC
Series: Tied 0-0
It’s the playoff matchup that everybody wanted to see with the Red Wings moving to the Eastern Conference next season. The Red Wings and the Blackhawks have a history that goes back to the original six days and more recently has been renewed into a top rivalry in the game. The proximity of the cities to each other only enhances the rivalry as each city wants to stake claim to the top hockey city in the midwest, at least for this sseason. The Red Wings will have a chance to take the first step to making that claim when they head to the United Center in Chicago for game one of the Western Conference Semi Finals tonight.
The Red Wings drew the unlucky card once again in the first round when they were matched up with Anaheim, forcing them to travel to Anaheim for a minimum two games in the opening round. The series ended up going the distance, forcing the Red Wings to travel to Anaheim for a total of four games. Add on top of that the fact that four of the seven games in the series went into overtime, and you have to assume that the Red Wings come into this series somewhat exhausted from a hard fought first round victory.
The Blackhawks had the easier road in the first round, though they deserved it by winning the President’s Trophy. They drew the number eight seeded Minnesota Wild, with travel no where near what the Red Wings had to endure, and were able to make easy work out of them in the opening round. Chicago was able to jump out to the 2-0 series lead, and despite losing game three in overtime, were able to dominate games four and five for the five game series victory. It has been nearly a week since the Blackhawks have played, so they should be well rested coming into this game. The amount of rest could be a weakness though as some teams get complacent after long rests, which the Red Wings should try and take advantage of right off the get go in tonight’s game.
The Red Wings will be turning to Jimmy Howard in net as they try to upset Stanley Cup minded Chicago. If Howard and the Red Wings are to beat the Blackhawks tonight and in this series, Howard will need to tighten up some aspects of his game, mostly rebounds. Howard must control the rebounds to not allow Chicago get shots on an open net. Howard has played well against the Blackhawks this season, though he has not earned any wins. He lost three of the four games in overtime, and his worst start was the four goals he gave up in 23 minutes in the 7-1 Easter Day debacle.
Corey Emmerton will be replacing Mikael Samuelsson on the fourth line tonight after Samuelsson left practice early when he aggravated his pectoral muscle that gave him problems throughout the regular season. The Red Wings will also keep Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk on separate lines for the second consecutive game to increase depth.
The Blackhawks will counter with Corey Crawford in net. There is not much to say about Crawford’s level of play this season and the first round besides spectacular. In the first round, Crawford only gave up seven goals in five games, with the most coming in a 3-2 overtime loss on May 5th. Crawford has been just as dominant against the Red Wings this season, going 4-0-0, while giving up only 1.19 goals per game. His career numbers against the Red Wings are not much worse as he has gone 11-2-0-2 with a 1.82 GAA and .943 save percentage. In order for the Red Wings to win this series, they will need to figure out how to get pucks past Crawford or else he alone could make this a short series.
The last time these two teams met in the playoffs was 2009 when the Red Wings dismantled the Blackhawks in five games. Back then, the Red Wings were well on their way to a second consecutive Stanley Cup Finals berth and Chicago was the young team learning the ropes of playoff life. This year the roles are reveresed. The Blackhawks are favorites to win the Stanley Cup along with Pittsburgh and the Red Wings are the team filled with youth who is trying to learn the playoff ropes as they go along. Either way, this has the makeup of what could be another great series, and possibly the bet of the playoffs.
Players To Watch:
- Henrik Zetterberg was the main reason the Red Wings won game six and contributed largely in the game seven win over Anaheim. In order for the Red Wings to challenge the Blackhawks, they will need Zetterberg to come up big with goals and assists as well as solid defensive play as well.
- Pavel Datsyuk will be another key player in this series as he is in every series. The Red Wings rely on his puck possession and his ability to easily take the puck away from opponents. He will also need to continue to contribute offensively for the Red Wings to keep up with Chicago’s powerful offense.
- Patrick Kane was held without a goal in the first round and Chicago was still able to score at will against Minnesota. It is only a matter of time until Kane gets his first goal of the playoffs and once he does, he could start scoring in bunches. The Red Wings will need to contain him as did they Anaheim’s Corey Perry.
- Another one of Chicago’s best players, Jonathan Toews, was held without a goal in the first round, and he to possesses the capability of scoring in bunches once he finds the back of the net for the first time. Both Toews and Kane will be very active by the net looking for the first goals so they will be two players to keep a close eye on, let’s just hope the Red Wings do to.
Let us know if you are watching or going to the game and you will be entered into a drawing to win 200$ worth of tickets! RSVP here:http://tiqiq.us/Kuu