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Playoffs Tonight: Blackhawks open series vs Red Wings

May 15, 2013, 8:06 AM EDT

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 12: Henrik Zetterberg #40 of the Detroit Red Wings approaches the puck as Michal Handzus #26 of the Chicago Blackhawks follows along side during the NHL game on April 12, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) Getty Images

There were plenty of upsets in round one, but yesterday was devoid of major surprises as the Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings comfortably beat the Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks respectively.

Will that trend continue or will a low seed make it to the Conference Finals? Let’s take a look at tonight’s action:

Game 1: Chicago Blackhawks host Detroit Red Wings (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra)

The Detroit Red Wings will head to the Eastern Conference for the 2013-14 campaign, so this was their last chance to meet Chicago in the playoffs as division rivals.

The Blackhawks swept their season series, but the Red Wings managed to push them to overtime in three of their four meetings. That naturally suggests that we might be in for some close playoff contests, but so much of that depends on Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard and captain Henrik Zetterberg.

Those two players are huge to this team and when they’re playing at their best, Detroit is capable of stealing games from a team like the Blackhawks. Aside from them, Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula is the x-factor in this series. He’s coming off of a disappointing season, but he started to heat up towards the end of the first round and played a role in Detroit advancing.

It seems almost inaccurate to label any player on the Blackhawks as an x-factor, simply because the team is so deep. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane didn’t score a single goal in the first round (although they did combine for seven assists), but Chicago still had no problem dispatching the Minnesota Wild.

Only three Chicago players participated in all five games and didn’t end up with at least a point and all of them – Brent Seabrook, Michal Rozsival, and Brandon Bollig – made defensive contributions. The Red Wings might be able to match the Blackhawks in terms of top-end talent, but it’s Chicago’s depth that makes them the heavy favorites in this series.

  1. jpat2424 - May 15, 2013 at 8:13 AM

    Will be a tough series. Hawks in 6.

  2. 0ffsides - May 15, 2013 at 8:25 AM

    The Red Wings match up well with the ‘Hawks despite their seeding’s and head to head record this year. Chicago is definitely deeper but they will by no means run over Detroit, expect close games but the Blackhawks will eventually prevail.

  3. bruinsfan19 - May 15, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    I can see an upset by Detroit here they are a good team and well rounded even though Chicago is deeper I’m saying Detroit in 7

    • polegojim - May 15, 2013 at 10:17 AM

      I’d love to see it… but the Wings CAN’T make silly mistakes with the puck in their O end.

      That’s been the nemesis of the Wings D all season and reared it’s ugly head in the game 5 OT loss.

      Ericcson, Kronwall, Kindl, Smith especially… nix the turnovers. Kane Towes Hossa will eat them up if you don’t.

  4. hammerhead5573 - May 15, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    Like the fact that these 2 teams are at this point. Going to be a great series and my guess is there will be little to no games which the difference is higher than 2 goals by the winning team. Ever since Q teamed up keith and hjalmerson along with seabrook and leddy, the defense has been crazy good. Gotta reduce the dumb penalties they took against the wild and the should win in 7.

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  1. P. Kane (1916)
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  3. M. Richards (1369)
  4. N. Backstrom (1184)
  5. M. Giordano (1158)