Since we're about to get more-acquainted with them and the playoffs makes people crazy. I thought it would be nice to touch base with the blog that covers our enemies while I'm still on speaking terms with the person who runs it. Maybe I'm getting softer in my old age or maybe I'm learning.
Today, we've got Greg Boysen from Second City Hockey. We've had semi-regular contact with some of their folks crossing over to wish us well in the Ducks series. Hilariously, we've gotten along pretty well with them. We'll see how long that lasts. Before everybody gets banned and everybody starts hating everybody else, we beefed up the three questions series all the way to six so we could at least start out on the right foot before things devolve into poop-flinging.
1. What are your feelings on having to take on the Red Wings in the second round? Would you have preferred a different opponent or will the last playoff series between these two teams as division rivals be a great way to end that rivalry?
This is the exact match up I wanted, along with many Hawks fans. This is a great way to end the divisional rivalry (until the Coyotes move to Quebec and Bettman trolls you guys back to the West) but I am happy to see 2 teams who want to use their high skill to win hockey games. Yes there will be plenty of physical play, but you shouldn't see any of the garbage we saw in the Montreal/Ottawa series or any of the blatant douchebaggery we have seen out of the St Louis Blues. But, the biggest reason I wanted this match up, no 9pm starts!
2. What are the biggest areas of confidence/concern for the way the Hawks play going into this series?
My biggest area of confidence in the Hawks' game is their penalty kill. The Hawks have had the luxury of having an elite PK unit all season long and it has carried over into the postseason. Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik are two unsung heroes for the Hawks due to their stellar work on the penalty kill. The Minnesota Wild went 0 for 17 on the power play in the opening round. The Hawks do not have a great power play, despite all the talent. But, I have said all season long, come playoff time I would much rather have a shut down PK than a deadly power play. One of my biggest concerns are faceoffs. Besides Jonathan Toews, the Hawks are pretty lousy at the dot. Michal Handzus was brought into the mix to help with faceoffs but only won 41.8% of his draws versus the Wild. Dave Bolland will be returning for this series, but he has not been good at winning faceoffs all season long. I get very itchy with late game defensive draws when #19 is not out there.
3. What are the biggest areas of confidence/concern for the Red Wings' game?
The biggest area of confidence I have in the Wings game is their defense. Gone are the days of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski. Sorry, but a team that has Kyle Quincey on their blue line does not exactly but the fear of God in me. The Wings have given up an average of 3.00 goals per game in the playoffs so far, the most of any team who advanced to the 2nd round. I also take a bit of comfort in the fact that Jimmy Howard only has 4 wins in 17 career games versus the Blackhawks. What I am most concerned about? That's easy, #13. The man is a cold blooded killer and can carry a team on his back if need be. Justin Abdelkader also worries me a bit because he can be a giant pain in the ass over a course of a playoff series.
4 What should WIIM readers know about Second City Hockey's community? What's going to get them in/keep them out of trouble if they visit?
Our regulars at SCH are a knowledgeable and respectful bunch. As I said earlier, most were cheering for the Wings to win and are excited for the series. There is a hatred for all things Red Wings, but there is also a deep respect for your team and the history between our two franchises. The same can not be said of the Canucks or the Blues. We will welcome any and all Wings fans who want to have some good hockey discussion. If you want to have some staying power, come with some numbers to win over the stat geeks. Just like any site, if you come over to troll, you won't last long. And just so you know, most of us hate Dan Carcillo too!
5. What should WIIM readers expect from SCH folks visiting our corner of the blogosphere?
If any of regular readers stop by you can expect some good debate with people who understand the Hawks/Wings rivalry. Most of us are bummed about losing Detroit to the Eastern Conference so this series has a bit more importance to it. If anyone comes over to just start a meatball "Detroit Sucks" chant, chances are they are not a SCH regular and feel free to nut slap them before banishment.
6 Finally, who ya got in the series and how many games?
To the surprise of no one, I am picking to the Blackhawks to win this series in 6 games. Yes the Hawks have had some great success against the Wings over the last two seasons, but playoff hockey is a different beast. 3 of the 4 meetings this year went into overtime, and 9 of the last 13 Hawks playoff games of also gone to OT. I fully expect at least 3 games in this series to go past the 60 minute mark. In the end, the Hawks depth will eventually wear down the Wings.