Series Preview: Blackhawks vs. Red Wings

This article is dedicated to my best friend Leroy Jurzec, who passed suddenly on April 23, 2013. Leroy was a passionate Red Wings fan for many years.

The second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues with two of the match-ups featuring Original Six franchises. In the Eastern Conference, it’s the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins, while it’ll be the Chicago Blackhawks taking on the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference.

The Blackhawks won the President’s Trophy with the league’s best regular season record. They are a very talented and explosive team, and can come at you from many directions. They are led by team captain Jonathan Toews who is one of many talented centers on the ‘Hawks’ roster. The other wingmen who can almost score at will feature Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw, and Brandon Saad, who is a Calder Trophy (“Rookie of the Year”) candidate. Left wing Daniel Carcillo adds grit to the team, while Michael Frolik, and Michal Handzus add depth. The defense is one of the best – if not the best – in the NHL. Led by former Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith, the blue line corps also features Jonny Oduya, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Leddy, Brent Seabrook and Michal Rozsival. The goaltending has been shared by Corey Crawford (who played in all four games against the Red Wings during the season) and Ray Emery. Both goaltenders have played well for the Blackhawks, but Corey Crawford will more than likely start this series. The Blackhawks are coached by Joel Quenneville, who has been a steady guide for the team. The forwards are not necessarily physical, but are big and fast. The Blackhawks defense is not the most physical either, but can be if necessary. The Minnesota Wild were eliminated in five games by the Blackhawks, seeming more like a speed bump than a real test.

The Detroit Red Wings just finished a grueling seven-game series against the Anaheim Ducks that featured four overtime games and some very arduous travel. The Red Wings are led by captain Henrik Zetterberg and playmaker Pavel Datsyuk. Other forwards who contributed mightily during the Anaheim series were Justin Abdelkader, Daniel Cleary, Damien Brunner, Gustav Nyquist and Johan Franzen. Valtteri Filppula struggled against the Wild, but did manage score the series-winning goal. The Wings’ defense is young, but seems to be learning on the fly, albeit with plenty of turnovers. Niklas Kronwall is the elder statesman on defense, along with Jonathan Ericsson. Kyle Quincey is not a rookie, but young by Red Wings standards. Late season acquisition Danny DeKeyer was a pleasant surprise, but is done for the season with a broken thumb. The puppy core defensemen are led by Brendan Smith, Jakub Kindl, and Brian Lashoff. Veteran Carlo Colaiacovo played the last two games in the Anaheim series, and is a dependable puck-moving rearguard. The goaltending has been Jimmy Howard with Jonas Gustavsson as backup. The team is led by Mike Babcock, who is arguably the best coach in the NHL.

What the ‘Hawks Must Do to Win

As mentioned the Blackhawks are a very talented team who can roll 4 lines and have great puck moving defensemen. If they can control a game by a quick transition game with an up tempo, they win easily. They are the best in the NHL at playing this way.

What the Wings Must Do to Win

The Red Wings can also play an up tempo game, but cannot afford to do so against the Blackhawks. They have to sit back, trap, and wait for a break or a turnover against the Blackhawks. They certainly cannot play sloppy like they did against the Ducks allowing gift goals on a silver platter. If they do, it will be a short series.

Series Notes

The Red Wings lost all four regular season games to the Blackhawks, and all but one were by one goal. Two of the losses were in shoot outs, and the other was in overtime. The fourth loss was a Easter Sunday blowout by the Blackhawks. Joel Quenneville is 0-5 lifetime against the Red Wings in the playoffs. He had three losses when coaching St. Louis, and one each when coach of Colorado, and Blackhawks. The Ducks defeated the Blackhawks during the regular season, while the Red Wings defeated the Ducks during the regular season and playoffs.

Team Comparisons

Forward:
Advantage Blackhawks

Defense:
Advantage Blackhawks

Goaltending:
Advantage Red Wings

Coaching:
Advantage Red Wings

Based on the matchups it would seem like the Blackhawks win easily, with the Red Wings seeming like a little bit bigger bump in the road than the Wild were for the Blackhawks. Also the Blackhawks won the President’s trophy, which all but guarantees the Stanley Cup. Just ask the 2006 Red Wings about it (sic). During the NHL playoffs, anything can happen and usually does.

Prediction: Red Wings in Six Games

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