Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Now that the San Jose Sharks have been ousted another early exit from the playoffs, we shift our attention to the likely front runner to represent the West in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Detroit Red Wings.
Detroit's success this season has been in many ways over shadowed by the Sharks. The Wings are by no means a sexy pick to win the Stanley Cup...again...but they are probably the most logical. The Wings absolutely DESTROYED the Blue Jackets in the first round. Aside for maybe game 4 where Flopsgood looked shakier than Mohammed Ali handling a new born..but still...the Wings were a far superior team and were able to sweep the Jackets...and managed to make rookie of the year candidate Steve Mason look like a sieve.
Mason's regular season GAA: 2.29
Mason's post-season GAA: 4.26
OUCH. And that GAA is not due to Mason's lack of skill or ability...as he showcased that all season. The credit deservedly goes to the Red Wings ability to pin-point and shut down any particular team's strength, expose their weaknesses, and then dismantle the team with perfection. It's almost sickening.
So now the question is can anyone stop this freight train from rolling its way through the playoffs again? Well lets take a look at the teams with that Oh so coveted opportunity.
Anaheim Ducks - Well, we'll actually get to see this first hand very soon, as the Ducks have drawn the Wings as their 2nd round foe.
Why they could win: THEY BEAT SAN JOSE! So obviously they'll roll through Detroit as well. Ha! In all seriousness the Ducks do have the veteran leadership experience and skill on the blue line with Scott Niedermayer, Ryan Whitney, Chris Pronger, James Wisniewski, and Francois Beauchemin. Playoff experience will aide them as well. They have a killer first line anchored by Getzlef that was superb against the Sharks. And that Jonas Hiller kid ain't too shaby either.
Why they won't win: Jonas Hiller. It's unfortunate that after having such a stellar first round, Hiller is likely to be exposed this next round against the Wings. Plus, all the Wings really have to do is match up one line against the Ducks. The Wings are way deeper and their 3rd line is more capable of winning games. Plus, does anyone outside of Anaheim really expect the Ducks to upset both the #1 and #2 seeds?
Chicago Blackhawks - I actually look at this team and am reminded a lot of the Penguins run last year. If the Hawks end up meeting the Wings in the WCF, there's no doubt it'd be an entertaining series.
Why they could win: Offense offense and more offense. The Hawks are equipped with a very potent offense, once that could prove to be a nightmare for Flopsgood on the other end. Their top 3 lines may be some of the best in hockey.
Why they won't win: Inexperience. Yah it's a cop out but you can't really argue against it. There are only five members of the Blackhawks who were playing in the NHL the last time they made the playoffs in 2002. Campbell, Havlat, Nikolai Khabibulin, Sammy Pahlsson and Brent Sopel. It didn't matter against the Flames...it will matter a great deal against the Wings should they meet.
Vancouver Canucks - To me, this is the only team that I truly believe has a shot at upending the Wings.
Why they could win: Two words. DA GOALIEEEEE!!!! Roberto Luongo can win games on his own. One of the few goalies left in the playoffs that can. He'd likely have to steal a couple for the Canucks, but Luongo plus his D-men should be able to stifle the Red Wings potent offense. The Wings don't like to be hit, and the Canucks love a physical, defensive low scoring game. That favors Roberto and his team.
Why they won't win: Secondary scoring. After you get past the Canucks 1st line, there isn't a whole lot of help coming from their offense. Luongo would be able to keep the Canucks close but on most nights you have to score more than 2 goals to beat Detroit...and without some secondary scoring, you're dead in the water.