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Detroit Red Wings vs. Anaheim Ducks: 5 Keys for Red Wings to Win Playoff Series

Isaac SmithAnalyst IApril 28, 2013

Detroit Red Wings vs. Anaheim Ducks: 5 Keys for Red Wings to Win Playoff Series

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    The Detroit Red Wings will open up the playoffs in California against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.

    The Red Wings took two of three games from the Ducks this season, with the road team winning all three contests. The Red Wings won the two most recent meetings by scores of 5-1 and 2-1.

    The Red Wings are obvious underdogs in this series, but won the final four games of their season to claim the No. 7 seed and avoid the juggernaut Chicago Blackhawks. Being the underdog, Detroit needs a game plan to come out on top of this series.

    Here are five keys that will help the Red Wings defeat the Ducks and advance to the second round of the playoffs.

Honorable Mention: Jimmy Howard

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    Simply put, Jimmy Howard looks like he has found his groove.

    Howard has three shutouts in his last seven starts. He will need to continue to be stellar against the Ducks in the playoffs.

    He stopped 98 of the 104 shots (94.2 percent) that the Ducks fired in his direction during the regular season. If Howard is not mentally engaged or gives up some early goals in Games 1 and 2, the Red Wings don't have a ghost of a chance.

    Howard is only an "honorable mention" on this slideshow because it should be obvious to Red Wings fans by now that they need their starting goaltender to make any kind of noise in the postseason.

1. Play a 60-Minute Game

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    In the Red Wings' first meeting with the Ducks this season, the game was tied at two going into the third period. Detroit surrendered three goals (one was an empty-netter) in the third frame, ultimately losing 5-2.

    The need to play a 60-minute game for the Red Wings cannot be stated enough. Their playoff hopes all came about as a result of winning the final four games in the season.

    This would not have been the case if the Red Wings had picked up points in other games that they let slip away earlier in the season.

    With a lead going into the second period, the Red Wings only won 64.3 percent of the time in the regular season. This puts them at 27th in the NHL in that department.

    If the Red Wings are going to pull off the upset in this series, they need to hold on to these first-period leads. Detroit must also be able to play an entire 60-minute game.

2. Win Faceoffs, Control the Puck

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    The Red Wings won 51.1 percent (10th in NHL) of their faceoffs in the regular season, while the Ducks won just 47.5 percent (26th in NHL) of theirs.

    The Red Wings have played a puck-possession game in the past and this season is no exception. The Red Wings were able to limit the amount of shots that other teams fired on Jimmy Howard this season to just 27.5 per game (seventh in the NHL).

    The Ducks managed to average 35.0 shots per game against Detroit in their three meetings this year, while averaging just 28.1 shots per game on the season as a whole.

    If the Red Wings have any chance of winning this playoff series, they will need to control the puck and limit shots as well as high-quality scoring chances against.

    That starts in the faceoff circle.

3. Special Teams Need to Continue to Be Special Against Ducks

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    The special teams in this series could end up tipping the balance on the scale.

    The Red Wings found success on special teams in the regular season against the Ducks, putting up three power-play goals on 11 tries (27.2 percent) on the man advantage while holding the Ducks to one goal in nine tries (11.1 percent).

    The Red Wings' road power play struggled early in the season, but managed to finish 11-88 on the season. Two of these road power-play goals came against Anaheim.

    If Detroit can get Anaheim (which has taken the fifth-fewest minor penalties this season) to take a few penalties in this series, it should be able to continue the regular-season success that it had against Anaheim on the PP.

4. Get Rid of the Giveaways

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    The Red Wings had nine giveaways in each of the three games that they played against Anaheim this season. Regardless of where these giveaways occur, nine per game is still too many to win a possible seven-game playoff series.

    As far as giveaways go, Jonathan Ericsson (30 giveaways) and Brendan Smith (27 giveaways) lead the pack. But that is just the start.

    The Red Wings need to maintain control of the puck (as stated earlier in this slideshow) and keep it out of the hands of players like Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, who do not need to be given extra chances to bury goals.

    Play smart. Clean up the game as far as breaking out of the defensive zone is concerned.

5. Frustrate the Ducks, Make Them Take Bad Penalties

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    For some reason, the Detroit Red Wings always bring out the best (or the worst) in the Anaheim Ducks' personalities.

    In the last game of the regular-season series, the Red Wings saw the Ducks' Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne all get misconducts or game misconducts in the last minute of play.

    Frustrating the Ducks in Game 1 of this series will be the key to knocking them out of their rhythm and forcing them to change up their style of play.

     

    All stats and game recaps courtesy of NHL.com

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