Series Preview: #7 Detroit Red Wings vs. #1 Chicago Blackhawks

Jonathan Daniel

The Schedule

Game 1: Wednesday, May 15 8 p.m. @ Chicago NBCSN, CBC

Game 2: Saturday, May 18 1 p.m. @ Chicago NBC, CBC

Game 3: Monday, May 20 7:30 p.m. @ Detroit NBCSN, CBC

Game 4: Thursday, May 23 8 p.m. @ Detroit NBCSN, CBC

Game 5*: Saturday, May 25 TBD @ Chicago CBC, TBD

Game 6*: Monday, May 27 TBD @ Detroit CBC, TBD

Game 7*: Wednesday, May 29 TBD @ Chicago CBC, TBD

* if necessary

The Setup

Detroit Red Wings Team Chicago Blackhawks
24-16-8 56 Points - 7th in West Record 36-7-5 77 Points - 1st in West
2.54 (19th) Goals/Game 3.10 (2nd)
2.29 (5th) Goals Against/Game 2.02 (1st)
18.4% (15th) Power Play % 16.7% (19th)
81.7% (12th) Penalty Kill % 87.2% (3rd)
Anaheim Ducks (won in 7) Round 1 Opponent Minnesota Wild (won in 5)
53.9% (5th) Puck Possession (Fenwick Close %) 55.8% (2nd)

The Head-to-Head

Jan 27th @ Chicago: Detroit 1 - Chicago 2 (OT)

Mar 3rd @ Detroit: Chicago 2 - Detroit 1 (SO)

Mar 31st @ Detroit: Chicago 7 - Detroit 1

Apr 12th @ Chicago: Detroit 2 - Chicago 3 (SO)

The Matchups

Forwards vs. Forwards: Chicago had seven forwards this season who cracked 20 points compared to Detroit's four. While Pavel Datsyuk led the Wings in goalscoring with 15, Chicago's Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each potted 23. Marian Hossa had 17 goals as well. Only three of Chicago's forwards got outcorsi'd at even strength and only three of their forwards ended the season with a minus rating (Dave Bolland's -7 is impressive on a team with a +53 goal differential in 48 games). Puck-possession wise, the head-to-head there isn't as bleak, as Detroit had only four Fs with a negative corsi. Chicago gets more scoring out of their top guys and more depth out of their depth guys though.

Advantage: Blackhawks

Defense vs. Defense: The highest-scoring defenseman in this series is Niklas Kronwall, whose 29 points narrowly beat out Duncan Keith's 27. Once again, Chicago wins on depth here though. Only Sheldon Brookbank was a minus player for the Hawks in this campaign. Even scarier, No Chicago blueliner took more than 11 minor penalties all season. The Wings had four D-men who topped that number. Possession-wise, Brian Lashoff is the only defenseman between both teams who had a negative corsi.

Advantage: Blackhawks

Chicago's PP vs. Detroit's PK: The power play was Chicago's lone weak spot this season and, after a rough start, the Wings PK helped them get the job done for the most part. Chicago's PP didn't do much in round one, but Detroit's PK faltered in allowing Anaheim's man advantage unit to go 28% (although that one shorthanded goal by Abdelkader was kind of a big deal, huh?). If this turns into a special teams battle, this phase is a chance for the Wings to gain an upper hand.

Advantage: Red Wings

Detroit's PP vs. Chicago's PK: The Blackhawks had one of the best PKs in the league while Detroit's power play struggled with consistency and with allowing shorthanded goals. The Wings put up a respectable 24% efficiency in round one, but the Hawks also didn't allow a power play goal to Minnesota in their five-game series. The Wings are going to have a tough time scoring here, but will likely need to push through that to make a difference.

Advantage: Blackhawks

Goaltending vs. Goaltending: Jimmy Howard played very well for the Wings this season, but Chicago's two netminders combined to win the William M. Jennings trophy this season for Chicago by only allowing 102 total goals (league-worst Florida allowed 171). There's really not much else to say about that. Save percentages between all the goalies worth mentioning here are similar, but the Hawks goalies see fewer shots.

Advantage: Blackhawks

Coaching: Joel Quenneville has never beaten the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs

Advantage: Red Wings

Key Players


Pavel Datsyuk

#13 / Center / Detroit Red Wings

5-11

198

Jul 20, 1978



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2012 - Pavel Datsyuk 47 15 34 49 21 14 8 0 6 107


Henrik Zetterberg

#40 / Left Wing / Detroit Red Wings

5-11

197

Oct 09, 1980



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2012 - Henrik Zetterberg 46 11 37 48 2 18 4 2 5 173


Jonathan Toews

#19 / Center / Chicago Blackhawks

6-2

208

Apr 29, 1988



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2012 - Jonathan Toews 47 23 25 48 28 27 2 2 5 143


Patrick Kane

#88 / Right Wing / Chicago Blackhawks

5-11

181

Nov 19, 1988



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2012 - Patrick Kane 47 23 32 55 11 8 8 0 3 138


Let's face it; if somebody else is going to be the hero of this series, it's going to fall on two of these four to be the goats for not getting it done. The head-to-head here is going to be fun to watch.

Prediction

Wings in seven. Why stop believing now?

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