2011 NHL Playoffs: Detroit Red Wings Look at Possible Round 2 Opponents
With up to eight days of break, depending on how the rest of the quarterfinals pan out, the Red Wings have some time to look ahead at potential round two match-ups and how they plan to extend their Stanley Cup run.
Many analysts predicted the Wings/Yotes series to be a long and grueling one in six or seven games and many had the Coyotes advancing. While it may have been grueling with Coyote captain, Shane Doan, throwing a hit every time a winged wheel would touch the puck, it sure wasn't long going only four games, all ending in regulation.
The Wings and the Wings faithful hope the surge of strong play continues well into May and this is a look at how the Western Conferences third place team matches up against the round two potentials.
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With the Blackhawks/Canucks series all but wrapped up, this is the biggest long-shot match-up of the bunch, and I may be able to eliminate this slide after tonight depending on how game 5 goes in Vancouver, but nonetheless, this is still a potential round two match.
Assuming Chicago is the fourth team in history to cap a four game comeback, and on top of that the seventh place Los Angeles Kings oust the second place San Jose Sharks, the Red Wings will face the defending champs in round two.
Now if this impossible series does evolve, I don't believe the Wings will have too much worry in their hearts. Yes, the Chicago Blackhawks will have momentum of an incredible comeback, and yes the Hawks did win four of six games in the regular season against the Wings, but history is on the the side of the red and white.
First of all, the Wings will have a full, healthy and rested lineup against a battered Chicago team that has just finished seven hard fought games. Secondly, no NHL team has gone to seven games in their first round and went on to win the Stanley Cup since the 1991-92 Penguins—not a great statistic.
Finally, and most importantly, the Red Wings have turned up their game to playoff mode and I don't think the Blackhawks will have the strength or the talent to run with a Wings team pumping on all of its motor city cylinders.
This is probably the match-up the Wings are hoping for, but I wouldn't place too much money on a bet for it.
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The Nashville Predators seem to always pull the Red Wings name in the mash-up of the Western Conference and once again, there is a chance the Wings will visit the Music City this year.
The match-up is pretty much a 33 percent chance, depending on who can pull out the series wins between Anaheim and Nashville and L.A. against San Jose. If the Canucks finish off the Hawks, the Kings surprise the Sharks, and of course Nashville pulls out the upset over the Ducks, these two teams will again face off.
If this so does happen, it could really turn into a defensive battle between two solid teams. The season series went much like the Wings/Hawks series did, Nashville winning four of the six games, but again, that was regular season, this is the playoffs.
The Red Wings seem to have a whole extra season in them each time the race for Stanley starts, and with the high scoring antics of Pavel Datsyuk and a healthy Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen, Pekka Rinne would have all he could handle.
The Predators defensive squad was even lead in scoring by a defenseman, Shae Weber. These playoffs have seen an outbreak in the offensive game of Mike Fisher (I'd play my heart out if I were married to Carrie Underwood too) and he would pose a threat to the Red Wings.
If Jimmy Howard could continue his exceptional play, however, I believe Detroit would be able to outlast the Preds and advance to the Conference Finals.
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This, much like the Nashville chance, is about 33 percent depending on the same series' I mentioned previously except with the Ducks polishing off the Predators. This is a match-up I don't think is the most favorable for the Red Wings, even though they did fair well against the Ducks during the regular season.
The season series watched the Wings take three of four games against Anaheim in which their one loss came in overtime. But again, this is the playoffs, not the regular season.
The Ducks have shown an incredible offensive surge as of late and even without All-Star goaltender, Jonas Hiller, have managed to fight their way to fourth place in the West after being out of contention earlier in the year.
Corey Perry stepped on the gas and never looked back while Teemu Selanne forgot how old he was. The 40-year old veteran leads in playoff goals with five in only four games.
Ray Emery becomes a slight concern for the Ducks as he would have to face the Wings for the first time in years and he has not been the most phenomenal goalie in the playoffs so far.
He has played well enough for the offensive power of the Ducks to outlast the Preds in two of their four games thus far, which is only good enough, and I don't think would be good enough to outlast the scoring depth of Detroit.
If this match-up does form out of the quarter-finals I would watch for a long, high-scoring battle that could go either way.
San Jose Sharks
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Probably the most likely and most threatening match-up for the Detroit Red Wings second round is the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks currently sit one game ahead of the Kings after an incredible five goal comeback to win Game 3 in overtime by a score of 6-5. That put them up 2-1 over the seventh place Kings and in a position to put a stranglehold on L.A. tonight at the Staples Center.
Believe it or not, the Kings have stayed with the Sharks in this series, they have played well and each game they lost was in overtime. Even without the likes of leading scorer Anze Kopitar, they have given the Sharks a run for their money. After all, the Sharks have built a reputation of playoff failures in the past few years.
If San Jose can get past those labels and their top line can start producing like it did in Game 3, the Wings may have trouble in their future. San Jose defeated the Red Wings in five games last year despite a Johan Franzen show in Game 4 and are looking to do so again this year.
With a win over L.A, the Sharks will have home-ice advantage over the Red Wings after a late season free fall from the Wings dropped them to third place.
This series would prove to be an epic battle and honestly either team has a solid chance. The season series saw San Jose win three of four games which all turned out to be extremely close.
Both teams have incredible scoring depth and goalies that are capable of playing phenomenal. Only time will tell if this is the series we get to see come May.