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.
May 29, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT
The winner, as you know, goes to the Stanley Cup Final.
May 29, 2015, 6:39 PM EDT
“I’ve met with Nick several times and he knows he made a terrible mistake.”
May 29, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
And it looks like Tomas Fleischmann might replace Emerson Etem, again.
May 29, 2015, 4:45 PM EDT
People like ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.
May 29, 2015, 3:49 PM EDT
Appeared in just 33 games this season.
May 29, 2015, 3:16 PM EDT
“I don’t feel any tingling or soreness.”
May 29, 2015, 2:18 PM EDT
NHL Central Scouting thinks slightly more of the B.C. defender.
May 29, 2015, 1:47 PM EDT
Spent the past five seasons in the KHL.
May 29, 2015, 1:34 PM EDT
That’s former NHL defenseman and current AHL Binghamton bench boss Luke Richardson.
May 29, 2015, 12:51 PM EDT
This according to his club team, Avangard Omsk.
May 29, 2015, 12:49 PM EDT
How does it compare to past promos?
May 29, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT
“The last two years, we were a different team.”
May 29, 2015, 11:39 AM EDT
Well-traveled journeyman played big minutes for AHL Charlotte last season.
May 29, 2015, 11:25 AM EDT
Wes McCauley and Kevin Pollock, who have a fair bit of history working these types of games.
May 29, 2015, 10:57 AM EDT
Moving to Iserlohn after a tumultuous 2014-15 campaign.
May 29, 2015, 10:37 AM EDT
One year, two-way deal.
May 29, 2015, 9:53 AM EDT
Draft picks to hire other team’s fired employees has rapidly become the standard.
May 29, 2015, 9:14 AM EDT
Detroit wants to keep Tony Granato.
May 29, 2015, 8:25 AM EDT
Friday’s collection of links.
May 28, 2015, 11:16 PM EDT
“They need to hear our anthem, that’s a part of losing.”
- WATCH LIVE: Lightning at Rangers, Eastern Conference Final Game 7 0
- The Ducks got Kesler for a game like Saturday’s 25
- Your Lightning-Rangers Game 7 officials are… 1
- Duchene slams Russian players for storming off after Canada’s 2015 WHC win 53
- DeBoer predicts ‘big bounce-back’ in San Jose 12
- Sabres name Bylsma head coach 45
- Lundqvist on Game 7: ‘You’re definitely nervous, but it comes down to teamwork’ 18
- Report: Bylsma to Sabres being held up by compensation issue 56
- Stanley Cup Final to begin June 3 10
- Caps’ Backstrom undergoes arthroscopic hip surgery 6
- Kesler on wearing down Chicago: ‘No human can withstand that many hits’ (75)
- From healthy scratch to hero: Vermette scores OT winner for Blackhawks (66)
- Report: Bylsma to Sabres being held up by compensation issue (56)
- On Kreider, and trying ‘to turn the other cheek’ (54)
- Fetisov wants to restrict young Russians from playing in the NHL (53)