Red, Ice, and Blue: How the Wings Will Get Past the Blue Jackets

Jon FenlonContributor IApril 16, 2009

DETROIT, MI - MARCH 7:  Steve Mason #1 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is screened by Daniel Cleary #11 of the Detroit Red Wings in a game on March 7, 2009 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The Blue Jackets defeated the Red Wings 8-2 on the strength of a hat trick by Rick Nash. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

I'll keep this short and sweet. The Red Wings are seeded against one of the toughest first round matchups out there. The Blue Jackets have played the Wings tough all season, with Nash having been exceptionally good against them, and Steve Mason doing well agains't pretty much everyone. 

If the Wings are going to make it out of the first round, here's what they need to do:

Shoot everything at the net. All too often the Wings tend to pass the puck just a little too much as they look for that pretty goal. Don't get me wrong, I love the pretty goals, but with Mason as hot as he has been lately, they need to get in his head before he gets in theirs.

Flip the hit switch. The Wings haven't played very physical all season long. When was the last time you say Kronwall throw a huge hit at the blue line? And what happened to Stu going into the boards and leaving the opposing player a crumpled mess on the ice? My theory: Babcock told them to save it for the playoffs. Man, I hope he did.

Get all over Rick N
ash. Not only do the Wings need to come out hitting, they need to hit Nash specifically. He's big, fast, and can score goals, but he also gets thrown off his game when you knock him around a little. Babcock should pull aside Kronwall, Stu, Sammie, Kopecky, Ericsson, and Cleary, and let them know any chance they get to take a shot at him they should be doing it.  

Don't let the Jackets get a l
lead. Hitchcock will throw his guys into a trap as soon as they are up by two, or sometimes even one. Not the best matchup for the Wings if they fall into one of their slow-start modes. 

No easy looks at Ozzie. Osgood is going to be trying to turn his intensity up a notch or two, or ten, for the playoffs. Time to start helping him out. No more baby hockey—start clearing the front of the net!

Overall, I'm not too worried. I think Mason may have the confidence to win them a game, maybe two, but the wings have way too much experience and fire-power to be held off for too long. A few good one's past him and the floodgates will open.

Wings in five.

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