The Detroit Red Wings will be unable to get any farther than the second round, if their goal tending continues to struggle. The Wings haven’t had consistent goal tending all season long and have relied much too heavily on their offence.
Ty Conklin and Chris Osgood have given Detroit 2.94 goals per game, which is terrible, considering they get around 24 shots per game.
Detroit's offence has no major weaknesses and has many players who can give scoring depth. Detroit’s experience will be a key asset in the playoffs and will play a major role against any team Detroit may face.
Another problem the Wings have is depth on the blue line. If either Lidstrom, Rafalski, Stuart, or Kronwall goes down with an injury, they’ll have to resort to Derek Meech or Chris Chelios—both are not great options.
Mike Babcock has quite a bit to work with on the front end, and my need to use it with Tomas Holmstrom’s injury is a concern.
The only team that could really cause a problem for the Red Wings in the first round would be the Dallas Stars. I don’t think they could beat Detroit, but they could very well take them to game six or seven.
Dallas’ rough style of play could wear down the Red Wings' top line and make their secondary scoring carry more of the load. However, Dallas simply doesn’t have the depth to match the Red Wings' top core of players.
The rest of Detroit’s possible playoff opponents—Nashville, St Louis, Minnesota, and Edmonton—wouldn’t be a great concern, as they don’t have the offence or depth to face the Red Wings' top two lines.
Nashville may be a problem, because of the strong goal tending they have received from Pekka Rinne. However, they don’t have the offence to compete with Detroit’s top defensive core. Nashville was the second lowest-scoring team in the Western Conference through Mar. 18.
Detroit would tear Nashville’s defense apart in a seven game series, because Shea Weber could not do it all himself.
Minnesota is the same as Nashville with great goal tending but not enough scoring, depth, or defensive ability. Even if Marion Gaborik stays healthy, Minnesota still doesn’t have the skill to beat the Wings.
The best first round matchup would have to be Minnesota. Minnesota has goal tending far better than Detroit’s, but the rest of the team pales in comparison to the Red Wings' core of talent. Minnesota’s offence is third worst in the conference, and that’s in a division, where other than them, only Vancouver has given up less than three goals per game.
Minnesota’s defense also doesn’t have the skill to face the Red Wings. Nicklas Backstrom is the only thing the Red Wings could have problems with, and with the offensive talent Detroit has, he still wouldn’t be much of an influence on the series.
The worst case scenario for the first round matchup is defiantly Dallas, as I’ve stated before. Goal tending has been good enough but nothing spectacular, at 3.07 goals per game. Detroit will win the first round of the playoffs no matter who they are playing, but Dallas will be the hardest matchup.
The rest of the playoffs will be much harder for Detroit with San Jose and Calgary very tough opponents. If the Red Wings goal tending can hold together for the whole playoffs, they should win the Cup again.
Detroit will most likely play Vancouver or Chicago in the second round and Calgary, if they end up being the second seed. I believe Calgary and San Jose are the only teams that could beat out Detroit.
This is simply because they are a well-rounded team, with a top player at every position. They are also very deep on offence and defense.
San Jose has had past playoff failures that could strike again this postseason. Also San Jose as had an awful division this season and has taken advantage with a fourteen and three record verses divisional teams.
Detroit, however, has a division where every team is currently fighting for a playoff spot. San Jose’s depth will be a great thing to have come playoff time.
Calgary should breeze right through the playoffs, until they meet Detroit or San Jose. Calgary’s recent first round playoff exit means that most of the team doesn’t have much playoff experience. Calgary would have trouble against the battle-hardened Red Wings because of that inexperience.
Don’t expect Dion Phaneuf to produce the same, as he has during the season as his production has slipped every year in the playoffs. Calgary’s depth and toughness will help them in the playoffs, but it will all depend on how well Mikka Kiprusoff plays and how much Mike Keenan trusts him.
If Calgary and San Jose falter early, expect Detroit to have another parade in June. If San Jose and Calgary bring their best in the playoffs, unless Chris Osgood can regain his form from last year. Don’t get your hopes up on Detroit against San Jose and Calgary.
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