Detroit Red Wings – Anaheim Ducks 2nd Round Playoff Preview
|Playoffs||Goals/GM||GA/GM||PP Pct.||PK Pct|
|Detroit Red Wings||4.50 (1)||1.75 (5)||31.8% (1)||76.9% (13)|
|Anaheim Ducks||3.00 (5)||1.67 (4)||21.7% (6)||83.3% (9)|
If the same Chris Osgood of the first 3 games against Columbus shows up against the Ducks, they are in for a tough series. Even in game 4 when he wasn’t at his best, the Wings potent offence bailed him out quicker than the Government did with GM. Osgood continues to show that he has what it takes to win in the post season and if he can continue to give the Wings the same solid play he did in Round 1, the Wings will have nothing to worry about in goal for Round 2.
Who is this upstart young goalie that helped lead the Ducks past the President Trophy winning Sharks? Well a quick look at Jonas Hiller’s career stats indicates that he has some International playoff experience having won a number of Swiss Championships as well as 2 Spengler Cups with Davos. I didn’t watch a lot of the Ducks/Sharks series but from what I saw he played pretty well. That being said, I don’t think he faced the type of pressure from the Sharks that he will soon be receiving courtesy of the Wings.
The Detroit defensive core of Lidstrom, Rafalski, Stuart, Kronwall were incredibly solid in front of Osgood in the first round. They limited the shots he faced while providing the Wings with some potent offense. Lidstrom and Rafalski finished the series +4 and +5 respectively and were big factors on why the Detroit power play continued to be ranked #1 in the Post Season.
The Ducks boast some studs on defence. Whereas the Wings top 4 defenders rank 7-10 on the team in terms of points, Niedermayer (2nd), Pronger (5th) and Whitney (6th) are a major reason the Ducks were able to overthrow the Stanley Cup favourite Sharks. They play a ton of ice time every game (Niedermayer 25:33 & Pronger 24:42), have plenty of Stanley Cup experience and can shadow any of the games top offensive stars. Detroit though has a more balanced attack than the Sharks did, so these guys will have to be on top of the Wings to ensure that Hiller can see the puck and I’m sure good old Tomas Holmstrom is ready to do whatever it takes to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Who would have expected that after one round of playoff hockey Pavel Datsyuk would rank as the 12th points getter on the team with just 1 goal and 1 assist (certainly not me or else I wouldn’t have taken him in my playoff pool, but I digress). However this demonstrates just how balanced an attack the Wings boast. When Dan Cleary is 2nd and Marian Hossa is 5th on the team in points you know you have achieved balance. These guys are efficient and I can’t help but think that the rest has given them some time to mend wounds (I’m looking at you Marian Hossa and your “lower body injury” from the end of the season).
While the Ducks still boast a significant core of the forwards from the 2006/07 Stanley Cup Champion team (Perry, Getzlaf, Selanne, Parros, Miller, Marchant & Niedermayer), the Ducks most important cog might be rookie of the year finalist Bobby Ryan who has helped to re-invigorate this offense. Not many people (except Illegal Curve’s Adam Gutkin) expected these forwards to be able to wear down the Sharks defense in addition to solving Nabokov. They play smart, take advantage of their chances and employ a disciplined style. They are slightly better than the Wings in terms of faceoff percentage although neither team is particularly stellar in that category. (Ana: 10th – 49.2%, Det: 12th – 48.7%)
The Detroit Power Play rolled in the 1st round as they were unbelievable against Steve Mason and the Blue Jackets. They were first overall during the regular season and continued that trend into the post season. The Ducks will have to stay out of the box if they hope to avoid becoming victims of the Wings PP prowess. (The Ducks were 10th out of 16 teams, averaging 15.2 minutes per game). The Wings PK continues to be this team’s Achilles heel as they finished the 1st round 13th out of 16 teams. Luckily for the Wings they had the lowest penalty minutes of any team at a paltry 8 minutes per game.
Anaheim’s power play has been at the top of the league throughout the regular season and that trend continued into the post season. Regardless of whether they are at home or on the road the Ducks have the tools to score on the power play. The Ducks PK on the other hand was a tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the 1st Round as they fared poorly at home (66.7% – 13th overall) and excellent on the road (93.3% – 4th overall). I’m not sure why it was so erratic but it will have to be at its best when the Detroit power play is on the ice.
Anaheim is no 8th place team and they have the weapons on offense, the skill on defence and the Stanley Cup experience to send the current Stanley Cup Champs to the golf course if taken too lightly. The Wings though are a tough, gritty bunch with the ability to score from lines one through four and a coach who isn’t about to let them underestimate the Ducks. This will be a tough, physical series.
Winner: Detroit in 6.