The Red Wings are set to move to the Eastern Conference next season, meaning this could be the last time these Original Six rivals meet in the postseason for a very long time. The Blackhawks hold an 8-7 edge over the Red Wings in playoff series wins.
The seventh-seeded Red Wings come in as heavy underdogs in this series, having barely beaten the Anaheim Ducks in seven games. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, had little trouble defeating the Minnesota Wild in five games.
Will the Red Wings pull off another upset, or will the Blackhawks move one step closer to their second Stanley Cup in four years?
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.
Game 1: Wednesday, May 15 at Chicago, 8:00 p.m. NBC Sports Network, CBC
Game 2: Saturday, May 18 at Chicago, 1:00 p.m. NBC, CBC
Game 3: Monday, May 20 at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. NBC Sports Network, CBC
Game 4: Thursday, May 23 at Detroit, 8:00 p.m. NBC Sports Network, CBC
Game 5*: Saturday, May 25 at Chicago, TBD. CBC
Game 6*: Monday, May 27 at Detroit, TBD. CBC
Game 7*: Wednesday, May 29 at Chicago, TBD. CBC
Playoffs Goals For Average
Red Wings: 2.57, ranked 9th.
Blackhawks: 3.40, ranked 4th.
Both teams have a couple lines which feature a few highly skilled offensive stars.
The Red Wings continue to be led by Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, who combined for 15 points against the Ducks. European youngsters Damien Brunner and Gustav Nyquist have also stepped up at crucial times. Also, Justin Abdelkader had a big impact in Game 7 and the Wings will need him to continue to perform at that level against the Blackhawks.
Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa lead the way for the Blackhawks with a combined eight goals. Surprisingly, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have yet to score, but you have to expect that will change in the first couple games versus Detroit.
Chicago’s depth at forward, which was on display against the Wild, may give them an edge over the Red Wings. Players like Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Michael Frolik have already made key contributions in the postseason.
Playoff Goals Against Average
Red Wings: 3.00, ranked 11th.
Blackhawks: 1.40, ranked 1st.
The Red Wings have had eight different defensemen play at least two games in the playoffs. The top two are Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson, who continue to eat up the bulk of playing time. Kronwall is averaging over 25 minutes per game in ice time and has 16 hits and 15 blocked shots.
Defensive zone mistakes were costly at times against the Ducks. Detroit’s blueliners will need to put themselves in the shooting lanes and be more effective in transition to have success versus the Blackhawks.
Duncan Keith leads the Blackhawks’ blue line with a goal and four assists in five playoff games. Michal Rozsival continues to fly under the radar, playing a sound physical game with 11 hits and 10 blocked shots.
Chicago’s defensemen will be focused on Zetterberg and Datsyuk and limiting their ability to create chances in close. Also, expect another strong showing from the Blackhawks’ penalty kill, which didn’t allow a single goal against the Wild.
Jimmy Howard: 4-3 with a 2.74 GAA, .911 save percentage and no shutouts.
Corey Crawford: 4-1 with a 1.32 GAA, .950 save percentage and one shutout.
They aren't considered elite netminders, but Howard and Crawford have got the job done thus far.
Howard has had moments this season where he’s struggled and even allowed soft goals early in the Anaheim series. However, he came through in Game 7, stopping 31 of 33 shots to earn the victory.
Howard has something to prove in this series as he and his teammates failed to beat the Blackhawks this season.
A 28-year-old native of Montreal, Crawford has been brilliant as the No. 1 goaltender since Ray Emery went down with an injury. Crawford appears calm and confident in goal and has done a better job controlling his rebounds than in previous seasons.
This series features two of the NHL’s best coaches in Joel Quenneville and Mike Babcock, who will have their teams well prepared.
With that in mind, you can expect the Red Wings to make it a long series, but ultimately the Blackhawks should prevail.
The Red Wings won’t be able to score as often as they did against the Ducks and while Howard will play well, Crawford will outlast him. Also, fatigue could be a factor as the Red Wings had a tough travel schedule in their seven-game series with the Ducks.
Blackhawks in seven.