The Detroit Red Wings open its 2009 postseason run with a game tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Yesterday, the crew here at WIM made our selections for the other seven first round series going around the league this week. Today, we predict the outcome of the most important series in our humble opinion -- Detroit vs. Columbus.
Christy's Selection: Red Wings in six
I'd love to say that the Wings would make this quick with a four or five game series win for the good of my psyche. However, I think that Columbus will enter this series with an emotional push. For the first time in franchise history, the team has made the playoffs. I expect Nationwide Arena to be rocking next Tuesday (I'm going down to Columbus for that game) and Thursday. If rookie netminder Steve Mason is hot, I can see the Wings running into trouble getting the puck past him. Ultimately, I believe the Wings will be able to limit Rick Nash's effectiveness and find a way to get through the 20-year-old goalie. However, I think the emotional rush and the fact that most of these players don't know any better will make it a close series. I must say that the short travel between these two cities should really help Detroit in the long run if the Wings do advance to the semifinals.
Joe's Pick: Detroit in six
Let me put it this way: there's a version of this explanation floating around my hard drive that has my selection reversed. I think the Red Wings are in a position that makes me very nervous about at least the first round: a goaltender that doesn't give me confidence, only seven points in the past 10 games, the injury bug finally catching up to them. That being said, here's why I think they'll win this series:
* Columbus isn't exactly on fire: they've earned 10 points in the past 10 games, but four of them were overtime losses.
* Steve Mason has only won one of the last five games he's started.
* Columbus: first playoff series. Detroit: 55th playoff year.
* For once, no insane 10:30 starts! (I half-expected to see a 9:00 p.m. start time just out of habit)
Casey's Forecast: Wings take it in 5
Mason is a big factor in net for the Blue Jackets but the Red Wings have too much offensively and behind the players with Mike Babcock. Nash could be a key contributor for Columbus but if he is locked up by the Detroit defense, there is little to support him on offense.
Chris' Prediction: Wings win it in six
In order for the Jackets to win, they will need to play an almost perfect series from goaltender to goalscorers. The fact that they only have one scorer over 30 goals this year does not bode well, as a balanced attack will be key in beating the Wings.
The Wings will find that extra gear and rely on their playoff experience and veteran leadership to wear down the Jackets. Mason will be strong, and will lead them to a win or two, but inthe end, the patience and execution of the Wings leads them to win in 6.
Dan's Guess: Detroit in five