I can't think of any team entering the playoffs hotter than the Detroit Red Wings. Over the last month and a half, they have really come together and played great hockey.
The problem for them was injuries. At one point, they had nine of their 18 starting players out with injuries. This forced them to call up a ton of rookies from Grand Rapids. Not only did these rookies perform well, but they played a huge role in keeping Detroit in playoff contention long enough for the injured players to come back and make a difference
With all respect to Phoenix, they are not getting a good break during the first round. With all of the distractions that they have faced, this season has been a minor miracle.
A lot of the success this season has been due to Ilya Bryzgalov. As always, he's been a solid goalie and a huge reason that this team placed as high as they did.
However, I don't think that they're going to be able to overcome the Red Wings. Obviously, the Wings have won a lot of championships. In fact, in the last three years, they have never been eliminated before the third round.
Many of the players that accomplished those feats are on this team as well. More importantly, they have Jimmy Howard who has been phenomenal in goal. In fact, his numbers are actually better than Bryzgalov's. Granted, only slightly. His GAA is .03 lower and his save percentage is .4% higher.
The difference is Detroit's offense. With Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterburg and Johan Franzen, the Wings have a ton of players that Phoenix will need to cover. Not only that, but this team has a bunch of younger players that can make plays as well. Darren Helm is the one that sticks out in my mind.
However, it should be an entertaining series, because both teams should win some games. Eventually though, I think that the Wings are going to come out on top.