The first seed Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Minnesota Wild in five games to advance to the Conference Semi-Finals. Chicago will face off against the second seed Detroit Red Wings who defeated the Anaheim Ducks in seven games to rech the second round of the playoffs. Chicago hasn’t played since Thursday last week, and Detroit only got two days of rest before the series kicks off Wednesday the 15th in Chicago. A long break sometimes gets a team out of the motions. Will Chicago be one of those teams? probably not. The Blackhawks have been stellar all season long, but Detroit is coming in off of the high of a game seven thriller.
This will be one of the better series I believe we’ll see this season. I wrote a piece shortly before the playoffs started about why this would be such a great series. Both goaltenders have played well thus far in the playoffs, and both played well against each other in the season series. The Blackhawks didn’t see many chances on the powerplay. They converted on 2 of only 13 chances in the first round, but they were perfect on all 17 penalty kills. Detroit’s powerplay has did well in the first round converting on 6 of 25 powerplay opportunities. This is going to be a key match-up in this series, if Detroit can get the powerplay going against Chicago, it could cause a lot of problems for the Hawks.
The Wings keys to winning will ride on Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, as well as Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall on the back end. Datsyuk had 7 points in 7 games in the first round, and Zetterberg put up 8 in 7 games. If the two stars for Detroit can continue to put the puck in the net, it will give Detroit a much better chance of slipping passed the Hawks. Ericcson and Kronwall shut down the top line of the Ducks, making it very hard for them to get many chances. They’ll have their hands full again with the sharpshooters for the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks key to winning is going to be about special teams and defense. The Hawks were shorthanded 17 times in the first series against the Minnesota Wild and killed all of them off. The defense for the Hawks shut down the Wild offense and made it very difficult for them to sustain much pressure for any period of time. The Hawks weren’t awesome on the powerplay this season, but if they can start converting on the chances Detroit will give them, they have a huge advantage with such a good penalty kill. Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp played well against the Wild, and it will be expected out of them in this series as well.
When it’s all said and done, I believe the Chicago Blackhawks will too much for the Red Wings. It will be a great series to watch, and it will also be the last time these two teams meet in the playoffs unless it is in the Stanley Cup Finals with the Wings moving back east next season. I believe the Hawks will move on to the Western Conference Finals in six games. Let the octopi fly!