Anaheim took care of the top seeded team in the West in 6 games and gets the reward of the #2 seeded Detroit Red Wings. The two teams are the last two teams to win the Stanley Cup and two of the more consistent teams this decade. This should be a great series and will undoubtedly bring some great hockey. So let's get to the preview shall we?
Season series: Detroit lost the first game 5-4 in OT but won 2-1, 4-3, and 5-2. Part of the reason the Wings had a 3-1 record against the Ducks was the fact that they outshot them by +48 margin and were able to get at the goalmouth and disrupt Giguere. But its a new "season" and a new series, so lets look at some key players.
Three Key Players to Anaheim Success
1. Jonas Hiller, G- The young goalie has all the pressure on his shoulders. Sure, JS Giguere is waiting in the wings in the event of his downfall but with the way Hiller played in the first round, it's unlikely that Randy Carlyle would call on Giguere. Hiller played 46 regular season goals and won 23 of those while allowing 2.39 goals a game. Hiller is the goalie of the Ducks future and has a tremendous skill set. He will be tested early and often by a Detroit team that takes plenty of shots and has two of the best screeners in the game in Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen.
2. Ryan Getzlaf, C- Big talent in a big body has yielded large gains for the Ducks in Getzlaf. In the 4 games against the Wings this year, Getzlaf has tallied 2 goals and 7 assists (5 of those assists coming in the 5-4 OT win). Getzlaf has tremendous upside and at only 23 years old he already has a Cup ring. He's a force to be reckoned with on offense with good passing and great shooting skills but don't forget about his defensive skills either.
3. Bobby Ryan, RW- The rookie winger has had an immediate impact in the Ducks' lineup and is a big part of the offensive success for the Ducks. Ryan scored 31 goal, had 26 helpers and a +13 rating in the regular season and has scored 4 goals so far this postseason. If he keeps up his production, this Duckling could be a big factor in the series.
Three Key Players to Detroit Success
1. Chris Osgood, G- Much has been made about Osgood this season. He's been the scapegoat all year for lost games (I'll admit I am guilty of this at times too) but all of a sudden no one is questioning his ability are they? There's gotta be some switch that the guy flips when the playoffs come. I know that four games hardly make a sample but in comparison to his regular season he's playing incredible. Its not just his numbers that are better, he's been great in his lateral movement across the goalmouth and is getting down quicker. Osgood is just as important to the Wings success as Jonas Hiller. Both are going to be under the microscope during this series.
2. Marian Hossa, RW- Hossa's 2 goal performance in Game 4 could be a sign of things to come. If it is, there's no stopping the Wings. Hossa has 2 goals and 2 assists with a +2 rating, while leading the team with 17 shots on goal. He's making his presence known in the playoffs again and has all the offensive skills to carry the Wings on his back. However, if he struggles against the Swiss netminder, things could go south quickly. Hossa showed in the Columbus series that he's not afraid to make the hit instead of being hit, making him all the more dangerous defensively.
3. Henrik Zetterberg, C- Hammerin' Hank has been doing just that. With 3 goals on 11 shots--okay, 2 goals; one was an empty netter--Zetterberg is finding the net while also contributing on defense. Zetterberg also leads all Detroit forwards with about 20 minutes of ice time in the postseason. Zetterberg had great success this year against the Ducks with 3 goals. Another great thing about Zetterberg is that he can pass and let other players on his line make the shots while he concentrates on preparing defensively for a rush the opposite way. One of the best 2-way forwards in the game will have something to say about this series that's for sure.
This series has all the makings of an incredible one with two great goaltenders and two very good teams. In the end, it's gonna come down to three things. Goaltending, size vs. speed, and power play.
The goalies are the most pivotal part in my opinion. Despite playing excellent in round 1, Hiller still only has those 6 games in his NHL playoff bag while his counterpart Chris Osgood has 110 games and 3 Stanley Cups in his bag.
Size vs. Speed is a game that both teams will try to exploit. Anaheim has the size, Detroit has the speed. Detroit uses their speed and passing to stretch the defense and render any size virtually useless. How good can Chris Pronger and Ryan Whitney be if they're being blown by and turning to look for the puck?
Powerplay vs. Penalty Killing is a second game that both teams will try to exploit. The Wings hardly go in the box (10 minutes a game in regular season) while the Ducks couldn't stay out of it (17 mins a game). The Ducks' penalty kill wasnt all that good in the regular season and neither was the Wings'. But Detroit's powerplay is first in the regular season and is clicking at about 32% in the postseason, also 1st ranked. If the Ducks make mistakes, the Wings could capitalize often.