ZADS: Red Wings First Round Playoff Preview

by Chris Zadorozny (@Zads07)

Did you really think the Detroit Red Wings were going to miss the playoffs this year? After 21 straight years, was the streak really going to end? It It came close, but it didn’t happen.

In the first round, for the first time in the 22-year playoff streak, the Detroit Red Wings are below the fifth seed, matching up as the seventh seed against the number two seed Anaheim Ducks.

The Ducks had the third best record in the entire league this year, while Detroit, had to limp toward the finish line, but soon sprinted across, ready for the next race.

Out of 10 experts, five have picked both the Ducks and Red Wings to come out on top in this series. Of the five for the Red Wings, four say Red Wings in 7, and the other is Red Wings in 6. Anaheim is a tough team, but so are the Red Wings. Who will come out on top?

Forwards

Who would’ve thought at the start of this season, the top line would be Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader? It has been and it’s actually been quite surprising. Abdelkader has a career high, 10 goals this season, in about half the amount of games.

Datsyuk was one point shy of having another 50-point season this year and captain Zetterberg contributed with just 10-less assists than last season at 37.

This top line should give the Ducks problems, even though their top line of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan will provide the Red Wings defense with their own problems.

The Ducks have more depth than the Red Wings, at least in years played in the NHL. The Red Wings may be young, but their third and fourth lines have picked up the scoring slack late in the season.

One big way the Red Wings can get under the skin of the Ducks is with Jordin Tootoo and some rough, scrappy hockey. The Red Wings know how to do that, and we saw the Ducks anger show through back in March when they lost 2-1 to the Red Wings at the Honda Center.

At the end of the game, “captain” Getzlaf slammed his stick against the glass to protest a penalty, Ryan kicked his stick across the ice, and Selanne protested with the referees. All three were ejected and given game misconducts.

The Ducks may have the depth advantage here, but the Red Wings certainly have the speed advantage. If the Red Wings plan on winning this series, they are going to need scoring from everyone, including Mr. April, Johan Franzen.

Defense

It’s a no-brainer here to pick the Ducks defense over the Red Wings. Anaheim is more skilled, more talented, and much more older than a young Red Wings defense without Nicklas Lidstrom.

What is surprising though is the emergence of youngster Dan DeKeyser, who has contributed in all aspects of the game, except for a goal, which could come in this series against the Ducks.

The Red Wings defense will need to toughen up and get a little smarter in the corners if they expect to win this series.

Goaltending

Two words: Jimmy Howard. Many doubters didn’t like the six-year extension Jimmy Howard received on his contract late in the season. Many believe he isn’t the answer at the goaltender position for the long-term.

It’s pretty hard to go into the playoffs without a hot goaltender. Anything can happen. Right now, the Red Wings have that hot goaltender, proving many doubters wrong in the late stages of the season.

If the Red Wings win this series, it will be because of Jimmy Howard, not in spite of him.

Prediction

Red Wings in 6

To read the original post that appeared online on Sports Radio Detroit, on May 1, 2013, go to www.sportsradiodetroit.com

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