The Pittsburgh Penguins learned a lesson last year about what experience means in the Stanley Cup playoffs. If there is a cliff notes version of what the Penguins learned, the even younger and more inexperienced Chicago Blackhawks should pick it up, or they don't stand a chance.
True, the Blackhawks have the best corps of the future that the league has to offer, with an average age of less than 25 that features young guns Patrick Kane, Partrick Sharp, and Duncan Keith. If I were about picking the winner of this series four or five years from now, the Blackhawks would be my pick.
The bad news if you are a fan of the current Blackhawks is that I am not picking the series winner of the future. I am picking the series of now, and right now, the Red Wings are the best thing on ice.
So far this postseason, the Blackhawks are outscoring the Red Wings by four goals, out shining them on the power play by three percent, and have killed off seven percent more power plays. According to those numbers, the Wings should be the underdogs...right?
The Blackhawks beat the Wings definitively in the last two regular season games. That means they can compete with the Red Wings, right?
Wrong. Perhaps the most important number in this series doesn't come in the course of a game, nor does it come in the course of a series, or one year of playoff year. The Wings have the most important number, and that number is four. Jonathan Ericsson Justin Abdelkader, Marian Hossa, and Ty Conklin. Those are players on the current Red Wing's roster without at least one Stanley Cup.
This Red Wings' roster is close to identical to the team what won it all last year. That is experience, that is knowing what it takes to win, that is fresh in the Red Wings mind, and that is why the Blackhawks stand no chance against the Red Wings.
If you are a Blackhawks fan reading this, and you're not buying it, you will. You are probably upset I didn't use a bunch of convincing numbers to back my point, and you are probably laughing at this, saying, "look what this silly man from Detroit is saying, he is awfully cocky." Ask Penguins fans about experience, they didn't think it mattered, so why should you?
If you are a Red Wings fan reading this, you'll get it. If you're a 'Pens fan, you learned, you know. The "E" word is that important this time of year.
Red Wings in five games.