Pictured Above: Chris Osgood (goalie, Detroit Red Wings)
The Detroit Red Wings enter the series with a commanding sweep of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Blue Jackets, in their franchise playoff debut, never really challenged the Wings until Game Four, with their backs on the line, down in the series 3-0.
After coming back to tie it up several times after trailing by two, Detroit's Johan Franzen put it away on a late third-period goal to win the game for the heavily favored Red Wings, 6-5.
However, when the Red Wings filed into the locker room and begun awaiting their second-round opponent, they never expected who they got.
The Anaheim Ducks, lead by young goalie Jonas Hiller, come into this series with plenty of memories remaining of their Cinderella performance against the President's Cup winner and No. 1 seed San Jose Sharks. They opened the series with two wins in San Jose, and never looked back.
Although the Sharks eventually got within 3-2 with a overtime goal in Game Five by Marleau, the Ducks just came out with more spark in Game Six to put away the Sharks.
But the first round is over, and we're on the conference semi-finals. It's the time for the stars to shine, the young prospects to emerge, and us get to get down to hard-hitting, intense hockey.
Game One (last night)
In an intense, closely-matched game last night, the Ducks and Wings battled full-out for a complete 60-minute thriller.
Corey Perry opened the scoring with a mid-first period tally to get the Ducks up 1-0. However, a huge hit by Anaheim's Brown on Hudler at center ice caused a big turning point.
Hudler received a cut on the forehead in the collision, and while his blood was splattering all over the ice, Brown was receiving a five-minute major and an ejection for the hit. The penalty led to a huge extended five-minute power play for the Red Wings, which completely shifted the momentum, and allowed Johan Franzen to tie it up for Detroit.
Midway through the second period, Niklas Lidstrom gave the Red Wings the lead when he blasted a slap shot from the the left faceoff circle past Jonas Hiller.
However, aging yet still consistent Teemu Selanne tied it up for Anaheim, with a four-on-three goal late in the second.
So with the tie game the way it is, it now became time for the goalies. Chris Osgood reinforced his solid playoffs performance with several unbelievable saves on perfect chances for the Ducks, even when the pressure building as we crept down to the final five minutes.
But it was in the end that the stars of Hockeytown came through again. A point shot by Niklas Lidstrom somehow drifted in on net, where it was weakly turned away by Hiller.
However, although it was saved, all the Ducks around the goal stopped playing and started watching, and Lidstrom was able to skate all the way and beat Hiller five-hole with 49 seconds remaining the game.
Although the Ducks were eventually able to apply some pressure on the Wings' end in the final 20 seconds, they never really generated much with the extra skater, and the Red Wings won 3-2 to take an early 1-0 lead in the series.
Game-by-Game Predictions (Game Two on)
Game Two...Anaheim 3, Detroit 4 (DET leads series, 2-0)
Game Three...Detroit 1, Anaheim 2 (DET leads series, 2-1)
Game Four...Detroit 3, Anaheim 2 (DET leads series, 3-1)
Game Five...Anaheim 2, Detroit 3 (OT) (DET wins series, 4-1)
As you can see, I have the Red Wings pulling out another terrific win in Game Three to take a 2-0 series lead. However, I believe the home-ice advantage will get Anaheim a victory in, once again, another thrilling Game Three.
But, in the end, Detroit will come up with a spectacular win in overtime of Game Five, and advantage to the Western Conference finals.
Series Outlook Predictions: Detroit wins series, 4-1