by Chris Zadorozny (@Zads07)
For the final time, the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks will meet in the Western Conference Playoffs. The last time they met, it was in the Western Conference Finals in 2009. The Red Wings, en route to another Stanley Cup Final appearance, dispatched the Hawks in five games.
It was then that the Red Wings were the veteran team, and the Hawk, an up and coming team ready to take on the world.
The Red Wings now are in the Hawks spot, a young team trying to regroup after losing their leader in Nicklas Lidstrom, and have been trying to patch their defense all season long. The Hawks have proved themselves; they won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and were the best team in the shortened regular season this year.
So, what will happen in this final Western Conference matchup between these two Original Six Rivals?
Let’s break down this series:
The Blackhawks defeated the Minnesota Wild in five games, and are well-rested coming into the series against the Wings. Detroit however, needed seven games to defeat the Ducks, the third best team in the regular season.
The fact that the Hawks are more rested and the Red Wings aren’t is going to play a factor in this series, one way or another. As we have seen in the past, rest isn’t all that great, especially in baseball (Tigers in ’06 and ’12).
On the offensive side of things, we saw that the Red Wings can get contributions from nearly everyone, which is fantastic if they plan on running all four lines against the Hawks. Considering Chicago has some depth, we will more than likely see that. The Hawks are just too powerful though on the offensive side of the puck to not be outplayed by the Red Wings rookies. Sharp, Hossa, and Kane will lead the way.
On the defensive side of things, the Hawks are clearly the favorite. Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Leddy, Johnny Oduya, it’s just a talented group of defenseman.
The Red Wings aren’t loaded on the blueline. Kronwall is the leader, but Ericsson has made some questionable plays because of inexperience, even though he made some decent plays against the Ducks. Quincey played his best game of the playoffs in Game 7, but has been inconsistent, along with Smith, Kindl, Lashoff, and Colaiacovo, who aren’t spectacular. It’s clear the Red Wings are missing Danny DeKeyser, who won’t return this postseason.
The Blackhawks have some impressive depth, while the Red Wings don’t have that depth that they once had. Yes, the Wings have some really good, young players in the minors, and the whole fourth line is rookies, but it’s the lack of experience that hurts them.
Jimmy Howard is the clear-cut goaltender to go with in the playoffs, even over Corey Crawford. For some reason, both are trying to prove themselves to fans, and nearly everyone, but both have stood on their heads when their team needed them the most. Howard could have the edge here because he has seen more work, (a good thing, in this situation) and is just flat out better than Crawford.
It’s going to be a tough series for the Red Wings. They will be tired, they are out-matched in almost every aspect, but if they can score and defend like they did against the Ducks, they’ll have a chance in this series.
Prediction: Hawks in 6
To read the original post that appeared online on Sports Radio Detroit, on May 15, 2013, go to www.sportsradiodetroit.com