7:30p ET, Amalie Arena
Radio: 97.1 The Ticket
And... Here. We. Go.
Game one, folks. Everything that we've gone through this season means absolutely nothing now.
The first obstacle in our way for the quest to the big trophy is Tampa Bay. Both teams ended ended the season with a 53.9% 5v5 score-adjusted Corsi%, but but Tampa took the season series, with a record of 3-1-0. The back of my mind keeps telling me the same thing.. Remember last year going into the first round against Boston? Who had taken the season series 3-1-0? Yeah, it was Detroit. What happened in that first round? Detroit lost. Not saying this is the same situation, but it puts a lot into perspective. The regular season just doesn't matter at this point. It's a brand new slate, everything is back to zero (seriously, look at the match-up stats. I made them all zero!)
It looks as if Steven Stamkos will have to go up against the EuroTwins, and if you ask me, I really like that matchup. Putting Riley Sheahan in at 2nd line center with Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar is a much better way to match the speedy Tampa 2nd line with Tyler Johnson, and Ondrej Palat. The concern, of course, is Detroit's bottom-six. Tampa has a lineup of forwards who can score on all lines. The third line of Joakim Andersson, Stephen Weiss, and Tomas Jurco are going to have their hands full against former-Red Wing Valtteri Filppula, Jonathan Drouin, and the guy who scored a hat-trick on us this season, Cedric Pacquette. The fourth line is what it is, and that is bad. Please someone tell Mike Babcock to keep them matched against 4th line competition, and not Steven Stamkos' line. Please.
Petr Mrazek is getting the nod, as is Ben Bishop. I've said it before in my series preview that Ben Bishop is a big mother-f***er, who takes up practically all of the net. However, if you get the guy moving side-to-side, you will find space. He's lanky, and not the most agile of goalies. The Wings will have to come out cycling their asses off to keep him out of position. Am I nervous for Mrazek? Hell yeah, probably way more nervous than he actually is. But hey, we gotta believe.
Last but not least, special teams are going to be the hill that either team dies on in this series. Tampa is not good in that regard, and Detroit has been riding a red-hot power play, and a regressing penalty kill. If we can manage to keep the power play hot, and keep the penalty kill average, we can make wins happen.
Keep in mind, Tampa is a scoring machine. Detroit's defense is going to have it's hands full, and the top-pair has to come out and shut it down. I'm looking at you, Jonathan Ericsson. You've been god awful all season, prove me wrong. Now is the time.
Basically no one is picking Detroit to win this series. That's fine, we like it that way. I have Detroit winning this series in seven games, but everyone seems to think Tampa will take it in six. Detroit has been a highly underrated team all season long, so at this point we just have to ask... Why not us?
The Expected Lineups
|Darren Helm||Pavel Datsyuk||Henrik Zetterberg|
|Gustav Nyquist||Riley Sheahan||Tomas Tatar|
|Stephen Weiss||Joakim Andersson||Tomas Jurco|
|Drew Miller||Luke Glendening||Landon Ferraro|
|Niklas Kronwall||Jonathan Ericsson|
|Danny DeKeyser||Alexey Marchenko|
|Kyle Quincey||Marek Zidlicky|
Scratches: Daniel Cleary, Jakub Kindl, Teemu Pulkkinen
Injuries: Erik Cole (spine), Justin Abdelkader (hand), & Johan Franzen (concussion), Brendan Smith (Babcock's foot lodged up ass)
|Alex Killorn||Steven Stamkos||Ryan Callahan|
|Ondrej Palat||Tyler Johnson||Nikita Kucherov|
|Vladislav Namestnikov||Valtteri Filppula||Cedric Pacquette|
|Brenden Morrow||Brian Boyle||J.T. Brown|
|Victor Hedman||Andrej Sustr|
|Nikita Nesterov||Anton Stralman|
|Matt Carle||Braydon Coburn|
|LIGHTNING||THE MATCHUP (PLAYOFFS)||RED WINGS|
|0.00||Goals Per Game||0.00|
|0.00||Goals Against Per Game||0.00|
|0.0||Power Play %||0.0|
|0.0||Penalty Kill %||0.0|
|No Leaders||Goal Leader||No Leaders|
|No Leaders||Points Leader||No Leaders|
- The Red Wings are 27-9-2-3 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
- Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have a combined 224 points in the playoffs throughout their careers. That's pretty good.
- Will Petr Mrazek be our savior? Can the 23-year-old Czech goalie be a hero?