The second seeded Anaheim Ducks will kick off their first round series against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday. The Ducks played well in the shortened season this year, lead by captain Ryan Getzlaf‘s 34 assists and Corey Perry‘s 15 goals. The only question for the Ducks is, who will start in goal? Jonas Hiller? The sixth year goaltender of the Ducks posted a record of 15-6-4 this season, with a goals against average of 2.36 and a save percentage of .913%. Or will it be Viktor Fasth? The 30 year old goaltender who did a fantastic job in his first season in the NHL. Fasth posted a record of 15-6-2 with a goals against average of 2.18 and a save percentage of .921%.
Viktor Fasth started 23 games this season including a 5-2 win in Detroit in February. However, Fasth started the first game of a two game series with Detroit in Anaheim in March and was pulled after giving up 3 goals in 23 minutes on only 11 shots. Jonas Hiller came in to finish the game for Fasth and stopped 10 of 12 shots, not much better than Fasth played that night. Hiller started the second game and lost 2-1 stopping 19 of 21 shots. So who do the Ducks go with? Hiller has the playoff experience, but Fasth clearly has the better numbers this season, but both goaltenders played about the same when they played Detroit this season. In my opinion, the job should go to Fasth. He had 4 shutouts this season to Hiller’s 1. He was consistent, and has played well all season long.
The offense will be the key for the Ducks if they want to win the series. They got the offense they needed in the first match-up this season, but the last two games, Detroit’s defense shut down the Ducks. The Red Wings were hot closing out the season, the Ducks will have to lock down on defense and shut down the Wings top line that has been playing so well. The Ducks are going to want to get ahead of Detroit and not chase them all night like they did in the last couple games. If the Ducks big players can put the puck in the net, it should give the Ducks enough to maybe push passed the Wings.
The Detroit Red Wings are coming into the playoffs hot, they won their last 4 games of the season to push their way back into the playoffs and claim the number 7 seed and a chance to play the Anaheim Ducks in the first round. Detroit’s first line of Henrik Zetterburg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Justin Abdelkader has been scorching hot lately. Henrik Zetterburg has 2 goals and 8 assists in the last 4 games. The first line needs to stay hot and produce some offense for the Wings. The defense has been playing a lot better, Danny Dekeyser has proved to be a great asset on the blue line playing with Jakub Kindl. Both d-men have emerged as solid defenders, and their good play has helped the Wings get to where they are. Coach Mike Babcock is going to be looking for them to keep playing well and to shut down the Anaheim scorers. The Wings offense has been streaky all season, and if the offense can stay hot the Wings have a good chance at winning the series. The big names will have to continue scoring to get Detroit to the second round.
Jimmy Howard has been on fire as of late, he’s picked the Wings up, sat them on his back, and carried them through the season. Howard finished the season 21-13-7 with a 2.13 goals against average and a save percentage of .923%, and has only allowed 3 goals in the last 4 games. Howard has started the last 15 games for the Red Wings and he will have to stay hot to keep the Wings in the playoffs. He will be the biggest key to how this series plays out.
In the end, I do think Detroit will win the series. I think it will go all seven games, but I think Detroit’s getting hot at the right time, and the leaders have stepped up to the challenge. It’s going to be a very physical series, there’s no doubt about that, Anaheim didn’t have the discipline to beat the Wings earlier this year in only a two game series. The Ducks were frustrated and let it get to their heads. Until Anaheim proves to me that they can hold in their emotions and get back to playing the game of hockey, I think Detroit will take the series.
Tags: Anaheim Ducks Corey Perry Danny Dekeyser Detroit Red Wings Henrik Zetterburg Jakub Kindl Jimmy Howard Jonas Hiller Justin Abdelkader NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Pavel Datsyuk Ryan Getzlaf Series Preview Viktor Fasth