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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.