Detroit in 5 – What say you ?

So that was some final game between the Wings and Ducks, eh? Talk about a white knuckle ride. Game 7 comes down to a secondary role player chipping away at the front of the net and scoring with only three minutes to go. Can you say perseverance?

Anyway, it’s on to the Western Conference Finals for the third year in a row for Detroit, where Original Six rival Chicago has been waiting since Monday after they ousted the Vancouver Canucks. Who’s the favorite? Well for yours truly – who just happens to be a lifelong Michigander and fervent Detroit Red Wings fan – the choice is obvious, but lest you think I’m going to leave you guessing here are just a few reasons why I think so:

  1. While Chicago boasts two of the best players in the league in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews Detroit has a much deeper bench and can roll four lines, all of which are capable of changing the flow and ultimately the outcome of any given game. As we saw in their series with Anaheim – not to mention their first round sweep of Columbus – the Wings are also capable of wearing down their opponents by constantly making them chase the puck.
  2. Despite what some people would have you believe Detroit is clearly unafraid when it comes to the rough stuff. They did it to the Blue Jackets in Round 1 and the Ducks recently found out the Wings are fully capable of drawing blood and turning the opposition into live-action versions of board advertisements.
  3. Unlike Anaheim, who tried to get the puck in deep and grind it out in the corners, the Blackhawks are much faster and will try to score on the rush. That’s all well and good, but first they’re going to have to get past a defensive core that is arguably one of the best in the league when it comes to frustrating the opposition. Sticks in passing lanes, bodies blocking shots; if Chicago wants to make this an interesting series instead of getting blown back to the Windy City they’re going to have to come with a little something extra.
  4. Finally, if you’re one of those folks who like to crunch the numbers here’s a stat you might find interesting: Of the six games the two teams played during the regular season Detroit was on the winning end of four of those, including a come-from-behind win in the Winter Classic. Chicago had them down 3-1 midway through the second period but Detroit clawed their way back into the game and ended up beating Chicago 6-4. Some think the regular season means nothing outside of earning playoff spots; others no so much.

Prediction: Wings in 5.

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  • MJ Kasprzak

    Paul, you are essentially calling me a liar, and while I assume that was not your intent, I want you to know that my word is very important to me; I would appreciate it if you would take me at it.
    I have agreed (including above and in your article about Osgood being called shaky after allowing just one goal in a game against Columbus) that he has been good so far this post-season. But I have maintained all along that when he faces a good offence, I believe he will more closely resemble the player he was for 46 GAMES THIS YEAR than the one he has been in a few playoff games. He will face that against Chicago unless they have multiple scorers get hurt.
    Everyone left in the playoffs can score, shedding light on the fallacy that defence is more important than offence. In fact, I believe the winner of 90% of remaining games will score 4+ goals.

  • Paul Benvin

    And then when he shuts down Chicago he’ll have to prove himself against Pittsburgh (again) or Carolina. It’s a vicious circle.

  • MJ Kasprzak

    Not having been a hockey fan back in the days of Dryden, I was unaware he didn’t get credit. I would say this of that comparison, though: Dryden finished his career 258-57-74 with a 2.24 GAA (no save percentage listed); Osgood is 204-66-72 with a 2.47 (.906). Not even close: Ozzie has played more games (and I give some credit for superior longevity) with fewer wins and gave up almost one more goal in every four games. As far as Jennings and Cups (one of which he won as a backup—that is hardly to his credit), those are team accomplishments.

    Now, to answer your question Paul, I do respect Ozzie. Those numbers are very good, and while they may not be Hall-worthy, they are worth consideration for it.
    But as far as getting my respect THIS season, he was 45th in the league in save percentage for 46 games and now is 5th for 11 in the playoffs against a terrible and a sub-par offence. Like I said above, if he can shut down Chicago, he has proven himself.

  • Bruce Hollingdrake

    Osgood reminds a bit of Ken Dryden.

    Not in his style of play but while he played he was often criticized by the fans. It was they same old argument – with a team like that even ‘Red Light’ Racicot would have won a few cups. History now shows us what Dryden was, how he hockey career will be defined. And this is how Osgood will be defined. He Won. He is a Champion. There are hundreds of great goalies, some Hall of Famers even that would trade anything for that title.

    – Multiple All-Star Team selections
    – Multiple Jennings trophies
    – Stanley Cup Champion! (actually 3 rings on his resume)

    all in all a fine career that stands on its own Merit. If he adds another starting goalie championship he should (will in time) be considered amongst the best.

  • Paul Benvin

    Chris, even though Detroit played 7 games with Anaheim they’re still relatively healthy. Rafalski is back, Draper is back, and we have a lot of young talented guys who have their eyes on the prize so to speak. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are also due for a few goals, and that all spells trouble for Chicago.

    MJ, what does Osgood have to do to earn respect in your eyes? The guy won the Cup last year and has stood on his head this year. He’s the main reason Detroit got out of that seventh game with the win. Anaheim bombarded Detroit all series with offense and Osgood kept them to three goals or under the entire time. If he doesn’t make this save the Wings probably end up where the Ducks are right now. . .

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  • MJ Kasprzak

    Well, here we go. Either I am right about Osgood or you are. Up ’til now, I think he has been good primarily because the offenses he played haven’t. Anaheim was in the bottom half of the league in scoring and, while a good power play, y’all don’t take a lot of penalties. Columbus was bottom third in both.

    If Osgood hold Chicago under 3/game, y’all are going to win. But I think Chicago has everything right now: better goaltending PLUS your amazing ability to get that needed goal…Chicago in six. (Either way, I’m picking Pittsburgh to win the Cup.)

  • Chris Hoeler

    While I think five may be a realistic number because of the experience of playoff hockey for Detroit, I have a feeling the Hawks are not going to go down in five. They have a lot of momentum and the pressure is on the Red Wings to repeat as champions. They are just coming off a tough physical series that went 7 games while the Hawks had a bit of time off. Khabibulin has been stellar for Chicago and they have been relentless physically. Would I be surprised to see Detroit win in 5? No but I don’t think that is going to happen. I think this will be seven games.