The Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings are no strangers when it comes to meeting each other during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They have met seven times, with the Red Wings winning four series. The Ducks started the season off on a roll, but cooled off toward the end, securing the second spot in the Western Conference. This was a great season for the Ducks considering they did not qualify for the playoffs in 2012. The Red Wings were inconsistent all season, while using younger players to compensate for man-games lost to injuries, which led the NHL. With the departure of Brad Stuart and the retirements of Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom, the Red Wings found themselves in a mini-rebuilding mode. They needed to win their last four games to qualify for the playoffs, which they did.
The Ducks are a physical team who feature Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan on their top line. Getzlaf is big and strong, Perry is physical and nasty, while Ryan is a good passer and can score. There is also the ageless (42) Teemu Selanne, who is still a very talented scorer. Other talented forwards include Saku Koivu, Andrew Cogliano. and Kyle Palmieri. The defense features Francois Beauchemin and Sheldon Souray, who has seemed to revive his career in Anaheim. Cam Fowler, a 2010 draft selection, has developed his skills while playing over 20 minutes a game.
The Ducks have split goaltending duties between Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth. Fasth took advantage of his time when Hiller was injured and played very well. Fasth played in all three of the games against the Red Wings during the regular season. As mentioned the Ducks are large and play with an edge, which can prove to be a disadvantage as it sometimes leads to penalties. The Ducks also tend to get flustered which also leads to penalties.
The Red Wings are a finesse team, but are getting larger and younger due to retirements and injuries. Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen lead them. Datsyuk is the best two way player in the NHL, Zetterberg is a tireless worker, while Franzen is always a force come playoff time. The rest of the forwards have contributed goals, but not enough. This has been a problem season long for the Red Wings, secondary scoring. If the Red Wings are going to be successful in the playoffs, secondary scoring is a must.
The defense is quite young with Kyle Quincey, Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff, Johnathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, and recent addition Danny DeKeyser. DeKeyser has been a pleasant surprise stepping into the lineup right out of college. Earlier in the season the young defense was a turnover machine due to youth and lineup changes. The team finished fifth defensively by season’s end, an amazing feat considering the situation.
The goaltending has been solidified by Jimmy Howard. He is the reason the Red Wings are in the playoffs, and he just recently signed a six-year extension. Backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson suffered a groin injury early in the season, and missed a lot of games. When he came back, he never seemed to find his rhythm, which caused coach Mike Babcock to rely exclusively on Howard.
The Red Wings have usually been the hunted as they were at the top of the Conference, but not this time. They will be the hunters, and their prey will be the Ducks.
Prediction: Red Wings in Six Games