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Matchup: Detroit Red Wings vs. Anaheim Ducks
Venue: Honda Center; Anaheim, CA
Time: 10:30 PM EST
Television: Detroit- FS-D; National- NBC Sports Network
Series: Tied 0-0
It took until the final game of the season, but the Detroit Red Wings were able to clinch their 22nd consecutive playoff berth in dominating fashion, beating four teams in a row by a combined score of 15-3. The wins sent them into a first round matchup with the Pacific Division Champion Anaheim Ducks. The last time the Red Wings and Ducks met in the playoffs was in 2009 with the Red Wings winning the series 4-3 after a dramatic ending to game 7.
The Red Wings come into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams. They seemed to do no wrong this past week of play, and have played their best hockey of the season by far. The offense finally got going after struggling for the most part for the past month while the defense has been able to contain teams from scoring goals or getting many shots on net. The Red Wings come into this opening game on fire on the powerplay. In their four game win streak, they scored a powerplay goal in three of the games while scoring six total powerplay goals. If the powerplay stays hot for the Red Wings, they should be able to score a couple of goals on this Anaheim team which ranks towards the middle of the pack in penalty kill with an 81.5% success rate.
The Ducks are coming into this game on coast mode after essentially locking up a playoff spot with over a month to play in the season. In April, the Ducks went just 7-5-1, but they were able to get key players completely healthy for their run at the Stanley Cup. They come into this series as winners in three of their final four, but two of those came against Edmonton and another against Phoenix, both teams who participated in last night’s draft lottery. The Ducks know that they are not to take the Red Wings lightly if they want to have any success this round as the Red Wings have forwards who are very experienced in the playoffs and many of them which have won a Stanley Cup.
The Red Wings will be starting Jimmy Howard in net to no ones surprise as they have done for pretty much the final month of the season. Howard has been arguably the NHL’s hottest goaltender for the past couple weeks and will look to keep his success going as the playoffs open. Howard has appeared in all three games against the Ducks this season going 2-1-0 while giving up seven goals in the three games, five of them coming in a 5-2 loss on February 15th.
The Ducks will counter with Jonas Hiller as was to be expected. Hiller is the more experienced goaltender out of the two and has appeared in one game against the Red Wings this season, a 2-1 loss on March 24th. If Hiller struggles, do not expect Anaheim to hesitate pulling him in favor of Viktor Fasth who is more than capable of leading the Ducks, though inexperience could be a concern with him.
The Ducks and the Red Wings met three times this season with the Red Wings taking two of the three games. Both of the Red Wings victories came in back to back road games at Anaheim, winning 5-1 on March 22nd and then 2-1 on March 24th. This will be the first playoff series the two teams have played against each other since a seven game haert pounding series back in 2009 which ended with Detroit winnning 4-3 thanks to a late game winning goal by Dan Cleary in game seven at Joe Louis Arena.
Players To Watch:
- Pavel Datsyuk has been one of the hottest players for the Red Wings down the stretch to help the Red Wings clinch a playoff berth. In the final four games, Datsyuk posted two goals and six assists for a four game total of eight points. In two games played against Anaheim this season, Datsyuk has posted one goal and two assists.
- Henrik Zetterberg has also been on fire for the Red Wings as of late. In the final four game win streak, Zetterberg posted 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists). In three games played against Anaheim this season, Zetterberg has only posted one assist, so the Red Wings will need him to stay hot to make this a little easier.
- Ryan Getzlaf will be a key player for the Ducks if they are going to make it out of the first round. Getzlaf led the Ducks this season in assists (34) and points (49) and recorded three points (1 goal, 2 assists) in the three games played against the Red Wings this season.
- Corey Perry will be another critical player for the Ducks this series as he was their leading scorer this season with 15 goals along with Getzlaf. In the three games against the Red Wings this season, Perry recorded three points (1 goal, 2 assists).