More afraid of 'Hawks than Ducks
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?