Apr 30, 2013, 11:24 AM EST
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.
Dec 10, 2013, 6:52 PM EST
It won’t happen in 2014-15, though.
Dec 10, 2013, 5:31 PM EST
It’s a hot-button issue in the wake of Saturday’s Boston-Pittsburgh game.
Dec 10, 2013, 5:13 PM EST
Phoenix has just two wins in its last eight.
Dec 10, 2013, 4:21 PM EST
Former first-round pick on his way to Norfolk.
Dec 10, 2013, 3:02 PM EST
We’re about to find out.
Dec 10, 2013, 2:42 PM EST
A loaded Detroit roster gets… more loaded.
Dec 10, 2013, 2:15 PM EST
‘Hawks no like.
Dec 10, 2013, 1:53 PM EST
For the second time this season.
Dec 10, 2013, 1:40 PM EST
Chicago’s goalie depth about to be tested.
Dec 10, 2013, 1:36 PM EST
It really wasn’t.
Dec 10, 2013, 1:29 PM EST
Because he’s spent much of this season questioning his team.
Dec 10, 2013, 12:49 PM EST
When Nashville loses, it loses big.
Dec 10, 2013, 12:16 PM EST
It’s been a long journey for the former No. 6 overall pick.
Dec 10, 2013, 12:14 PM EST
Incident occurred on Sunday, against Boston’s Kevan Miller.
Dec 10, 2013, 12:11 PM EST
No goals in 18 games for the Sabres.
Dec 10, 2013, 11:47 AM EST
Facing a lengthy suspension.
Dec 10, 2013, 11:42 AM EST
Bad news, especially given his history.
Dec 10, 2013, 11:30 AM EST
He spent 16 years with and played over 600 games for the Flames.
Dec 10, 2013, 11:26 AM EST
That’s the stadium in the ‘Peg.
Dec 10, 2013, 9:58 AM EST
If he’s not available, the Bruins will need to call up a defenseman.
- Bettman: No decision on expansion, but they’re listening 0
- Neal admits kneeing Marchand was ‘not the smartest decision’ 63
- Leafs captain Phaneuf suspended two games for boarding 37
- Rangers confirm Staal suffered concussion 7
- Winnipeg to get outdoor game; Phoenix wants one 33
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head 156
- Report: Dion Phaneuf will face hearing for hit on Kevan Miller 104
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ 133
- Lecavalier out 3-4 weeks with non-displaced fracture in back 8
- Islanders players hold closed-door meeting after ninth straight loss 15
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (182)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (156)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (133)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (132)
- Orpik suffers from concussion, including memory loss (114)