Conference Finals: Detroit Red Wings – Chicago Blackhawks Preview

Posted by David Minuk in Central Division,Chicago Blackhawks,Columns,Detroit Red Wings,General NHL,Season Previews,Teams,Western Conference on May 16, 2009 — 3 Comments

The Numbers: 

 Playoffs Goals/GM GA/GM PP Pct. PK Pct
Detroit Red Wings 3.64 (2) 2.18 (2)  26.4% (2)  72.5% (14) 
Chicago 3.67 (1) 2.92 (10)  29.4% (1)  79.6% (10) 

Goaltending

Experience versus Experience.  Osgood was drafted in 1991 and Khabibulin was drafted in 1992.   Osgood was a member of the Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings in 1997, 1998, 2008 (as starter in 1998 and 2008).  Khabibulin won as the starter in Tampa’s 2004 run to the Stanley Cup.  Both goalies are solid, technically sound and know what it takes to win. 

Edge: Even

Defence:

The Detroit core of Lidstrom, Rafalski, Stuart, Kronwall were incredibly solid in front of Osgood in the first 2 rounds.  They continue to limit the shots he faced (3rd best in the playoffs at 27.5 per game).  Lidstrom continues to show that he is not only the best defensive defenceman on the Wings but also the most potent weapon on offence (#1 points overall for defenceman).

The Hawks defence has continued to improve throughout the playoffs.  Keith and Seabrook are both playing over 25 minutes per game.  Brian Campbell is quietly putting together quite an impressive playoff run.  He has the most points for a Hawks defenceman and is a +5 which is 2nd only to the Wings Lidstrom(+6).  As with the Hawks forwards, nobody told the defence that they aren’t supposed to be ready to be playing at this high a level but they continue to impress. 

Edge: Hawks

Forwards:

If I asked you who provided a significant portion of the scoring for the Wings through two round’s my guess is you would say Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen and Hossa.  Well you’d be partly right and partly wrong.  The Wings scoring machine was led by Franzen (5th overall in points) and Zetterberg (8th) but the next in the Wings attack were Dan Cleary (26th) and Jiri Hudler (28th).  The Wings come at you with all 4 lines and any one player has the ability to lead Detroit on any given night.  I expect Hossa and Datsyuk to step up in Round 3 and really display the true firepower in the Wings arsenal.

The names speak for themselves; Havlat, Kane, Toews, Versteeg, Sharp and Bolland.  Add in solid role players like Byfuglien and Burrish round out this list of young talent who have taken the Hawks soaring to unimaginable heights.  None of the Hawks are in the top 10 for points but they have spread out the scoring to create a balanced attack that the Wings defence is not going to enjoy facing.  As stated in the breakdown of the Hawks defence, these guys have everyone telling them they will be good in a few years, but continue to show that they are ready for the big show right now. 

Edge: Slightly Detroit

Special Teams:

We’ve played two rounds of playoff hockey and from the Wings we continue to get the same old thing.  Fantastic powerplay and anemic penalty kill.  I’m not sure what the disconnect is, but if they can limit the chances for the Hawks and continue to capitalize on the opportunities they are given, then the Wings should be ok. 

Similar to the Wings, the Hawks have an even more sizzling power play (1st overall) coupled with a cold as ice penalty kill.  Common sense would suggest that the best thing the Hawks can do is stay disciplined against this Veteran Detroit team and use their speed when on the power play to do some damage.

Edge: Even

Past Playof History:

If you’re a Hawks fan you want to remember 1991/92 when the Hawks led by Carmen, Manitoba’s Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Belfour, swept the Wings on their way to the Cup finals versus the Penguins. 

If you’re a Red Wings fans you want to look back at 1994/95 when the Wings beat the Hawks in double OT to win the series in 5.  (if any IC readers can find video of the Game 5 Double OT goal I would appreciate it)

Interestingly both teams (91/92 Hawks and 94/95 Wings) were swept in the Stanley Cup Finals.  (Hawks by a Mario Lemieux led Penguins and Wings by a young Martin Brodeur).

Bottom Line:

This is the 15th time that the Red Wings and Blackhawks have met in the post season.  With the exception of the goalies we have a young, up and coming Hawks teams versus a wily, veteran Wings team.  Detroit’s players with the exception of Hossa and Conklin have rings.  The Hawks only have 3 rings on the team (Andrew Ladd, Sammy Pahlsson and Nikolai Khabibulin).  In the end I feel that experience will win this series and ultimately the team from the Motor City will be victorious.

Winner:  Detroit in 6.

TSN’s Maggie the Macaque feels differently;

Maggie the Macaque has not had a great playoff run thus far in 2009, but Canada’s favourite predicting primate has high hopes for her picks in the Conference Finals.

Maggie sits at 4-8 after the first two rounds and on Friday spun the wheel to determine her selections for the Detroit Red Wings-Chicago Blackhawks Western Final and Pittsburgh Penguins-Carolina Hurricanes Eastern Final.

In the West, Maggie is going with Patrick Kane and the exciting young Blackhawks to knock the defending Stanley Cup Champion Red Wings from the playoffs.

 

As always feel free to share your thoughts with us on who you expect to prevail in the battle between Chicago and Detroit.

  • http://www.illegalcurve.com Drew

    To me, the Blackhawks are like the Tampa Bay Rays from last year. Too young, and too precocious, to know they shouldn’t be winning these series. The Red Wings are the Red Sox. Still peak contenders, but the amount of games they have played over these past two years (probably 20 or so more than the Blackhawks) will catch up to their veteran legs. I think the run keeps going. Blackhawks in 6.

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  • Missourimike

    I too think that the young gun Hawks are going to steam roll over the Wings. Ok perhaps not steamroll, but I think the Hawks are going to be hungier for the win than Detroit and will pull out the series win.

    Hawks win in 6.