Detroit Red Wings Should Be the Favorites to Win Game 6 Against Blackhawks
No one, not one prognosticator, pundit, prophesier or predictor thought the Detroit Red Wings would be in this position.
The Red Wings themselves would not have dared to dream this big just a few weeks ago.
Still, despite all seemingly insurmountable odds, the Detroit Red Wings are just one win away from advancing to the Western Conference Finals.
The fact that it is the terrifyingly good Chicago Blackhawks standing between them and a final-four finish is, at this point, merely a detail.
For those that would balk at this and point to the Blackhawks' 2013 President's Trophy or the odds in Vegas as evidence that Detroit has simply been playing David to Chicago's Goliath, I'd refer them back to the Good Book to remind them who won that particular battle.
The regular season is history.
As of now, the Detroit Red Wings lead this series 3-2 and have the opportunity to grab their fourth and final win on home ice Monday night.
Now, while it is certainly true that the Blackhawks have new life after their solid Game 5 victory, there is nothing to suggest that the Red Wings will simply start fading away and allow the darlings of the 2012-13 season to march on and fulfill their destiny.
The Blackhawks played very well Saturday night.
However, the Red Wings were noticeably off a step for most of the game, which provided the requisite space for the Blackhawks to operate.
Chicago has seen precious little space for most of this series.
A whiffed clearing attempt here, a broken stick there and more than one ill-advised penalty sprinkled throughout set up a perfect opportunity for the Hawks to climb back into this series fueled by the mania of the 22,000 odd inmates at the Madhouse on Madison.
The Blackhawks deserved to win Game 5, and the Red Wings saw to it that they did.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting this was a give-away win or that the Red Wings laid down for the Hawks.
What was clear is that the Red Wings were just a bit off in Game 5 and that certainly helped to send this series back to Joe Louis Arena on Monday night.
When any team is up 3-2 in a series, they are generally viewed to be "the team to beat" in Games 6 and 7.
However, this series has the plucky, seventh-seeded Red Wings up on the mighty, first-overall Blackhawks.
So, the idea that the latter is now an awakened giant destined to take this series for their own is one that is sure to have taken root in the heads of Red Wings and Blackhawks fans alike.
Yes, Jonathan Toews may have finally scored his first goal of the playoffs, but Henrik Zetterberg has been leading the offensive charge for Detroit since this series began.
Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell may be scoring in Chicago, but Gustav Nyquist and Jakub Kindl are proving Detroit has impressive depth of its own.
Corey Crawford may have made some jaw-dropping saves, but Jimmy Howard is the goalie making his playoff bones in this series and isn't about to stop writing that particular story in Game 6.
Joel Quenneville may have finally found a line combination that can jump start his team's offense, but Mike Babcock will have the last word, not to mention the last change, when it comes to which man is the better bench boss in Game 6.
The Red Wings may be in an unlikely position, relative to their regular season struggles, but there should be no doubt that this team, like most with a chance to close out a series at home, should be the favorite to win Monday night.
If they play the game they've been playing throughout most of this postseason, they'll do just that.
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