Apr 30, 2013, 11:24 AM EDT
1. How much will the Wings miss Nicklas Lidstrom?
The question they’ve been asking all season. In the past, the Red Wings have been able to find ways to overcome the retirement or departure of a superstar player, but the salary cap era is making that increasingly difficult. Granted, there is no replacement for Lidstrom, but that doesn’t change the fact that Detroit’s defense remains one of its big question marks heading into this series. Coach Mike Babcock has liked what he’s seen lately from his blue-liners, but playoff pressure can produce a different story.
2. Are the Ducks for real?
It was never a question of top-end talent for Anaheim; it was one of depth. Forwards Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan largely lived up to expectations this season, but they were complimented by forwards like Andrew Cogliano, Kyle Palmieri, and Saku Koivu. In 2011-12, the Ducks’ top three goal-scorers (Perry, Ryan, and Teemu Selanne) accounted for nearly half of the team’s total goals. This season, the offense has been spread around more. But is Anaheim’s success sustainable? Early on, they were getting great goaltending and scoring on a high percentage of their shots. Lately, they haven’t been so lucky, finishing the season with an 8-9-2 record in their last 19 games.
3. Can Johan Franzen stay hot?
After Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, the Red Wings’ biggest offensive weapon is the 33-year-old Franzen. When Detroit needed him most this season, he stepped up, scoring seven goals and 13 points in his last 13 games. If Franzen can carry that hot streak into the postseason, the Ducks’ Cinderella story might come to an abrupt end. To an extent, history is on Detroit’s side in this regard. Franzen first made a name for himself thanks to his breakout performance during the Red Wings’ 2008 Stanley Cup-winning run. He then averaged more than a point-per-game over the 2009 and 2010 playoffs. However, Franzen was largely a non-factor in 2011 and 2012 and, due in part to that, Detroit didn’t last long either of those years.
4. Hiller or Fasth?
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau has been dancing around the question of who will start in Game 1. Goaltenders Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth both had superb seasons. While Fasth has the marginally superior numbers, Hiller has far more NHL experience. How much Hiller’s experience counts for is perhaps a tad debatable, especially seeing as he hasn’t played in a postseason game since 2009; but still, it was just a year ago that Fasth was playing in the Swedish Elite League. Regardless of who Boudreau picks, that netminder will likely be on a tight leash. If either one falters, his counterpart will likely be given an opportunity.
5. Can Babcock pull it off again?
In 2003, the Detroit Red Wings were a superpower, fresh off of a dominant regular season, as well as a Stanley Cup title in 2002. Then they ran into the seventh-seed Anaheim Ducks in the first round and lost. In four games. Now recall that Mike Babcock was the rookie bench boss leading the Ducks past their mighty foe. We’re not sure if the Wings are quite the underdogs the Ducks were back then, but Babcock’s certainly faced his share of challenges this season. If he can get his team to the second round, it will be another job well done for one of the league’s best head coaches.
Oct 21, 2014, 1:56 AM EDT
Get out the swear jar.
Oct 21, 2014, 1:11 AM EDT
Yeah, he was.
Oct 21, 2014, 12:20 AM EDT
It finally happened and it happened with a late goal.
Oct 20, 2014, 11:57 PM EDT
Caught Taylor Hall with a heavy hit earlier in the game.
Oct 20, 2014, 11:24 PM EDT
Now, can they hang on for the win?
Oct 20, 2014, 11:07 PM EDT
Talking about the Oilers perhaps trading one of their young players.
Oct 20, 2014, 10:39 PM EDT
Heavy hit along the boards.
Oct 20, 2014, 10:04 PM EDT
That’s about as much trash talk as you’re going to get from Willie D.
Oct 20, 2014, 9:21 PM EDT
Alex Killorn is – again, this is based on same report – out of the lineup.
Oct 20, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT
“He’s got to go and maybe play out of the spotlight that we have here in Toronto.”
Oct 20, 2014, 7:57 PM EDT
“I’ve played three games and it hasn’t gone even close to the way it needs to be.”
Oct 20, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
Leafs add some organizational depth.
Oct 20, 2014, 6:06 PM EDT
Colorado, getting some good news in goal.
Oct 20, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT
Caps are off on a road trip to Western Canada.
Oct 20, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT
Coach Cooper cites the long trip to Edmonton from Syracuse as reason to keep the rookie out against the Oilers.
Oct 20, 2014, 3:52 PM EDT
A fairly well-deserved honor.
Oct 20, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
News and notes from the blue paint…
Oct 20, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT
Matt Bartkowski expected to step in tomorrow versus San Jose.
Oct 20, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT
Already has seven points in seven games this season.
Oct 20, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT
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