It's a race to 4 and the Wings got there faster than anyone else.
Everyone (except me!) was expecting this to potentially a long series against the Coyotes. The Red Wings had other ideas though. Four games, four wins, and now an extended period of rest. For being a sweep, it wasn't the easiest series I've ever witnessed. The Coyotes didn't go down lightly. They were physical and fought hard, especially in game 4. Detroit was able to prevail and send the Phoenix home to book tee times for the second straight season.
The next race to 4 begins soon.
A look back at round 1 after the jump.
Player of the Series: It has to be Ilya Bryzgalov...juuust kidding. He might have been the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd best Russian in the league this season, but he wasn't even close to be the best player, let alone the best Russian, in this series. That honor goes to Pavel Datsyuk. Pavel registered 6 points in 4 games. He was a +6, had 2 power play points, 15 shots on net and averaged 20:02 of ice time. The numbers are impressive, but he controlled the game at times and really carried the Wings when they needed it. The absence of Henrik Zetterberg was talked about as being a major factor going into the series, but the Datsyuk elevated his play to the point where the team didn't need Hank in the series. When he was absolutely dominating in the offense zone, he was back checking and playing excellent defense in the Wings' own zone. His all around game and point production make him the easy choice for player of the series.
Surprise of the Series: I'm giving the nod to Niklas Kronwall. Kronner really stepped up his game throughout the series. He was solid in the defensive zone, stayed out of the penalty box the entire series, and logged more average ice time (22:25) than anyone else of the team. He made an impact on the power play chipping in a goal and added two other even strength assists. He was tied with Datsyuk and Ruslan Salei as the team leader in plus/minus at +6. It will be a big boost going forward if Kronwall can keep up his level of play. It will make the forwards lives easier, Salei's live easier, and most importantly, Jimmy Howard's life easier.
Key to Winning the Series: Depth, baby! The Wings scored 18 goals (more than any other team) from 13 different players. If that's not depth, I don't know what is. Only six players failed to hit the back of the net, but everyone on the team registered a point except Kris Draper, Justin Abdelkader, and Brad Stuart. The deeper your team and the more that depth contributes, the farther your team will go in the postseason. Having four lines contribute night-in-and-night-out helps with the loss of Hank and Mule and it sure as hell feels good that knowing that the Wings can strike at any moment with any line on the ice.
Moment of the Series:
A Look Ahead: The Wings will most likely have a week or more to rest up and get ready for round 2. You couldn't ask for a better situation to get guys like Zetterberg and Johan Franzen time to heel without missing any more game time. As far as 2nd round opponents go, unless the Canucks completely fall apart, it looks like a could be a match-up with the Sharks, Predators, or Ducks. If LA beats SJ, the Wings host the Preds or Ducks. If SJ beats LA, the Wings head to California. Either way, it will be a tough 2nd round against any of the remaining teams.
Let's Go Red Wings.