It’s time for playoff hockey! Of course, that also means that each of us here at the DSN Red Wings chapter have been working hard on making our predictions for how the Red Wings/Lightning series will shake out. Here’s what we came up with:
Shae Brophy – Author
For the Wings, “just getting there” is getting pretty old. If the Wings want to do more than “just make it” this year, a lot of their eggs are going to be in the goaltender’s basket. Jimmy Howard will start the series in goal, after Petr Mrazek seriously fell off towards the end of the regular season. One advantage for Howard and the Wings will be the absence of Steven Stamkos, Tampa’s leading goal scorer this year. The Lightning are a banged up team, who couldn’t have been bitten by the injury bug at a worse time (Stamkos, Anton Stralman, Tyler Johnson). Which Howard will show up for Detroit? That’s the question that the entire series revolves around for the Wings. I’m betting that the Howard of old will make his presence felt in this series. The other question revolves around whether or not Detroit will get contributions from the secondary scoring. If they are able to find a decent blend of top-line scoring and secondary scoring, I think Detroit can win this series convincingly due to the Lightning injuries. I’m taking the Red Wings in 5.
Daniel Willim – Author
Tampa Bay is pretty banged up… Not having Stamkos is going to hurting them offensively and possibly not having Tyler Johnson either after he took a nasty cross-check into the boards in Tampa Bay’s finale against Montreal will just add to the offensive woes. If Jimmy Howard/Petr Mrazek can be steady in net and the Wings’ defense doesn’t have their usual breakdowns, I see the Wings being able to take advantage of an injury-riddled Tampa team and get to the Eastern Conference Semifinals… My prediction is the Wings in 6.
Derek Carnevale – Author
Detroit wins in 6! The Red Wings seem to always find an extra gear in the playoffs and I believe when you couple that along with the extra motivation of it possibly being Pavel Datsyuk‘s last playoff run, the Red Wings will prevail against a Lightning team that is missing two key players in Anton Stralman and Steven Stamkos. In order for this to happen , the Red Wings need Henrik Zetterberg to come out of hiding and be his usual self (minus last year) in this series and they also have to find a way to get traffic in front of Tampa’s massive goaltender, Ben Bishop.
Jeff Deacon – Managing Editor
In what should be an excellent series, both the Wings and Lightning have major question marks coming in. For Detroit it’s simple. Can they shake off last year’s playoff collapse and find their scoring touch in time for this series? The Wings scored the 2nd fewest goals of any playoff team this season, and if they expect to pull the upset they’ll need to beat Ben Bishop often. The questions surrounding Tampa are all health related. This team is decimated with injuries to top players, including captain Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman. Last year’s hero Tyler Johnson is hampered by a shoulder injury, and Nikita Kucherov also missed time as the regular season wrapped up. The series key will be Detroit’s power play vs. Tampa’s penalty kill. The Wings found some power play success in mid-March, while Tampa has struggled with being a man short all year. If the Wings can find a way to consistently find the back of the net, Detroit can make a run. Detroit in 6.
Nathan Webb – Red Wings Editor
Whether or not the Red Wings advance past the quarterfinal round this year largely depends on two big factors. The first being whether or not their so-called “scorers” and “scoring depth” actually show up. Through large stretches in the regular season, the Wings were held to 1 or 2 goals a game, and many times those goals were contributed from the regulars in Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Dylan Larkin. While these players need to continue getting on the board, the depth that they have been so proud of the last couple of seasons (see Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Andreas Athanasiou, Luke Glendening, etc) need to also produce to give the top-line players some relief. Secondly, their success largely depends on the play of their goalie tandem in Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek. Young Mrazek was a star through the first 2/3 of the season, and then fell off in a big way. Howard’s confidence was greatly boosted when he earned his starting position back, and it showed in his game down the stretch. If Howard can elevate to his normal playoff-self from the past 3 or 4 years, and Mrazek can get his early-season confidence back, that one-two punch could backstop the Wings at least to the Conference Final easily. I say Red Wings in 6.
Ryan Feroni Jr. – Author
I have the Red Wings taking it in 6. I think there will be a “win it for Pav” mentality, and the fact that Stamkos is injured will benefit the Wings.
Michael Whitaker – Author
The biggest factor for the Red Wings in this series is whether or not they can score on a consistent basis. Tampa’s leading scorer is absent, and last year’s villain Tyler Johnson isn’t fully healthy. If players like Tomas Tatar, Gus Nyquist, Pavel Datsyuk, and Dylan Larkin can elevate their game for the postseason and give Detroit consistent offense, they should be able to pull it out. Jimmy Howard is out to prove his doubters wrong and that he indeed does belong in the starting position. The Red Wings should be able to pull out of this series in six games.