With two off days to prepare for Saturday's Game 2 in Chicago, the Red Wings are under a lot of pressure to even the series and not go back to Joe Louis Arena needing a victory to avoid an 0-3 series deficit.
When Detroit lost the opening matchup of its first-round series against the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks, the team responded with a resilient overtime victory in Game 2 to steal the home-ice advantage. The Red Wings went on to win the series in seven games, but that probably wouldn't have happened without a Game 2 victory that put pressure on the Ducks.
Getting another important victory won't be as easy against Chicago as it was in the previous round. The Blackhawks are 8-2 in Game 2s since the start of the 2008-09 season, and in that same time frame, they have only lost one series when winning the second game (2012 first round vs. Phoenix).
Not only does Detroit need to win at least one game in Chicago to reach the Western Conference finals, protecting home ice isn't going to be easy since the Blackhawks had the best road record in the NHL this season at 18-4-2.
Chicago was 2-0 in Detroit this season (5-0 overall, including playoffs) with a 2-1 shootout victory on March 3 and a convincing 7-1 win on March 31.
The Blackhawks also haven't lost in regulation in their last 11 games (7-0-2) in Detroit, and since the team's roster has not undergone too many major changes over the last two years, most of Chicago's players have plenty of experience playing in front of a raucous crowd at Joe Louis Arena.
Another reason why the Red Wings must win Game 2 is to slow down the momentum of this Blackhawks team, which is now 5-1 in the playoffs and has outscored its opponents 21-8.
Chicago defeated the Minnesota Wild in just five games in the first round without giving maximum effort, but this team took its game to another level on Wednesday with a complete performance against the Red Wings, including a 31-9 shot advantage over the final two periods.
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#RedWings coach Mike Babcock: "The score tonight, was more than fair as far as I'm concerned. They were better." #Blackhawks5/16/2013, 3:00:33 AM
The Blackhawks are just starting to hit their stride in the postseason, and once they start to get on a roll, it's incredibly difficult to beat them. This team has shown on several occasions throughout the year that it's capable of dominating opponents for lengthy periods of time. The Blackhawks had four winning streaks of four games or more during the regular season, which started with an NHL record 24-game point streak.
Chicago also didn't lose more than two games in a row all season, which proves that there is no lack of a killer instinct on this team. Head coach Joel Quenneville does a tremendous job of making adjustments from game to game, and even when his team wins, he always finds areas that need improvement so his players don't get complacent.
The Blackhawks have shown a remarkable ability to win games consistently in 2013, and if the Red Wings lose Game 2, they would have to take four of the last five games in this series to eliminate their rivals.
Detroit doesn't have the talent or depth needed to win that many games against Chicago in such a short amount of time, especially when two of the final three games of this series are at the United Center, where the Blackhawks were 18-3-3 during the regular season and 4-0 in the playoffs. This is why the outcome of Game 2 is so important to the Red Wings' chances of making this series competitive.
NHL teams that win Game 1 in the second round go on to win the series 68.8 percent of the time, which means the Red Wings already have their work cut out for them going into Game 2.
If Detroit fails to even the series at a game apiece before Game 3, it's hard to imagine the Red Wings being able to mount an impressive comeback against a Blackhawks team that plays just as well on the road as it does at home.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter. Nick was a credentialed reporter at the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and 2012 NHL playoffs, and he is also a credentialed writer at the 2013 NHL playoffs in Boston.
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