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Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

More afraid of 'Hawks than Ducks

I didn't think that the Ducks would be able to beat the Red Wings. I was correct, but just by a three-minute sliver.

As Game 1 of the Western Conference final approaches, I believe that the Blackhawks will be a tougher out than the Ducks. I hope I'm not correct.

Anaheim, to me, boiled down to a one-line team with great forward depth and a young goalie who was hot. I liked the Wings' chances against that. Detroit will outplay any one forward line. Even though Getzlaf and Perry got theirs, the Ducks didn't have enough secondary scoring to top the Red Wings. The D was deep, but the Red Wings were as good on the back end. And that hot goalie cooled a bit and couldn't steal the series.

The 'Hawks have depth up front, a few lines that can do damage. They create matchup difficulties. Wen a guy like Marty Havlat isn't playing on the No. 1 scoring line, you have to pick your poison. Chicago has seven forwards with at least three post-season goals. Detroit has six. That's not to doctor a stat to trick you, Chicago can score much better than Anaheim or Columbus from different lines.

The 'Hawks don't have the blue-line depth that the Ducks do, but that top duo of Keith and Seabrook is very, very, very good. Better than Niedermayer and Pronger or Beauchemin. The Ducks were better 3-6 on D, but the Hawks can put a better top pair out.

In net, Khabibulin has been nobody's favorite goalie the past couple of years, but he's better right now with the playoffs on the line than Hiller. Khabibulin has the experience and that's invaluable.

But that point could be what tips this series to the Wings. Experience. The Hawks are good enough to win a Stanley Cup this year. (Don't get me wrong, I think the Wings are better.) But the 'Hawks aren't ready. Not yet, I hope. They're happy to be here. They're so young, they don't know what's going to happen next.

Chicago might get past Detroit. But my thought is that this series is a part of a learning curve for Chicago that makes them an even tougher out next spring. Chicago will be back and better. But teaching Detroit a lesson when you're so young is difficult.

Since I picked the Wings in 6 over the Ducks, I'll go Wings in 7 over Chicago.

Of course, if Osgood plays like the regular-season Ozzie and not the post-season Ozzie, I'm not liking the Wings' chances. But he won't do that. Right?


Blogger Nathan said...

What about Khabibulin's trouble with Detroit through the last three seasons? What about Ozzie clearly having been the better goalie thus far in the post-season?

And Keith/Seabrook is better than Niedermayer/Pronger? Equal is still a stretch, given the five Cup rings and sure-fire HOF credentials between Neidermayer/Pronger...

Detroit does very well when they go against a team like the Hawks -- yes, more overall forward depth, but they lack a big, physical first line like the Ducks had.

While people worry about Detroit being busy with Kane, Toews, Sharp, and Havlat, what doesn't anyone mention those same four forwards will have to deal with Zetterberg, Datsyuk (who can't stay asleep forever), Hossa, and Franzen?

May 17, 2009 at 1:48 PM 
Blogger Bruce MacLeod said...

Valid points Nathan. But I don't want this to spin in this direction.

Here's what I'm saying. The Blackhawks are better than the Ducks. The Wings are better than the Blackhawks.

Right now, I'll take Keith/Seabrook over the Ducks' top pairing. We agree that the Ducks have one special line, but nothing scary after that. And of course the 'Hawks have to deal with Z and Pavel, etc. The Wings are better.

May 17, 2009 at 1:58 PM 
Anonymous Ryan said...

The Hawks certainly were better than the Ducks all season, but I really do buy the argument that the Ducks vastly underperformed all season. Meanwhile, the Hawks might have overperformed. (They were outscored in games against playoff teams. (The Wings, fwiw, did the second best against playoff teams. Boston was best.))

Most of the season, I've felt that no other team is really in the same orbit as Detroit and San Jose, not even Boston. Anaheim has convinced me that they were actually somewhat close to that level. But beating a badly-injured Calgary and Vancouver in a weird series isn't enough yet to convince me the Hawks are 'elite'.

They've been very good all year, and I think a lot of people expected them to magically stop being very good in the playoffs. Then when they didn't, those people confused their very goodness for elite-ness.

May 17, 2009 at 2:30 PM 
Blogger Kwiatek said...

I think it's all about a playing style. Ducks are very physical team based on a good defense and a great goalie. Chicago plays more like WIngs. Fast, offensive hockey, so... we have a great experience from last year [almost everyone in our roster have a Stanley Cup ring] and well balanced team with more better D than Chicago - Seabrook showed how he can play when he lost a puck on a blue line ;-)

May 18, 2009 at 9:58 AM 
Blogger John said...

I largely agree with Nathan and Ryan. I think the Ducks roster changes to get Wisnewski and otherwise shore up their defense during the season made them a wholly more effective ice hockey club. They made themselves into a club where the opponent was forced to play Anaheim's game to succeed not the other way around.

I think hockey is a game of matching up, it's as much emotion and style as it is flow and personality.

I think the Ducks, Bruins and Sharks were the teams that were most capable of dropping the Wings because they disrupted the Wing's flow and the personality and tone that they set on the ice most conflicted Detroit's.

I think that almost every aspect of the Hawks' game lends itself to Detroit's. Chicago is going to score, sure. Chicago is not capable of playing the series the Duck's played against Detroit.

Could the Hawks beat the Ducks in a 7 round series? I doubt it. I think Chicago would beat all but two or three teams in a series right now, but they either didn't face them, or are facing them now.

May 18, 2009 at 2:34 PM 

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