It’s the start of the semifinals tonight between these two original 6 teams, and everywhere I look I don’t see anyone giving Detroit any credit. I mean, they did just knock off the mighty Anaheim Ducks in 7 games, didn’t they? Something nobody expected to happen with how Anaheim has been playing all season and in the postseason the first few games.
Sure the absence of Niklas Lidstrom is a “problem” but last I checked Lidstrom and the Wings were knocked out of the first round last season against a team that didn’t even make it into the playoffs this season. Unlike last year, captain Henrik Zetterberg carried his team on his shoulders and brought them into the semifinals against the over hyped Chicago Blackhawks.
Now don’t take what I said to heart or the wrong way, the Blackhawks are a very good team and they did defeat a offensive-less Wild team in 5 games. Although I picked the Wild to advance I clearly was on the wrong side, but then again if Backstrom never got hurt who knows what could have happened.
The Hawks dominated all season long and yes they do have the squad to win another Stanley Cup BUT is the pressure too much for them to handle in the playoffs? Especially against a Mike Babcock squad who almost ended their streak back in the regular season, if it weren’t for a Johan Franzen shot that went off the post.
Corey Crawford silenced all the critics especially me and the same goes for Jimmy Howard. They were both spectacular in net this season and have been in the playoffs so far. But in order for their team to win they will both need to be stellar once again. Kind of like they were back on March 3rd when Chicago won in a shootout 2-1.
When I think back to that game that took place on March 3rd I already saw a playoff atmosphere game between these two clubs. Detroit brought everything they had to Chicago and nearly almost beat them, like I said if it weren’t for a Franzen shot that went off the post. Babcock had his team ready for that game to end the streak and I expect the same to happen not only in this series but tonight in game one.
If Chicago wants to win this game they will need shots and goals from all four lines tonight. The Wings system can shut down top players and I expect that to happen tonight. Jonathan Towes and Patrick Kane didn’t contribute much in the quarterfinals but they will need to step up in the semifinals if they wan’t to beat the Red Wings.
If Detroit wants to win game one the line of Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Franzen will need to pick right back up were they left off in the quarterfinals. They will need to continue to get strong goaltending from Jimmy Howard as well as tight defense.
When I look at each team’s first round opponent I see a Chicago team that breezed through a Minnesota team that had nothing on offense. Crawford pretty much had it easy. Then I look at a Detroit team that had to overcome a highly offensive Anaheim team and Jonas Hiller in net. It wasn’t easy for Howard.
In my opinion game one between these two clubs is the game where the tone will be set. Whichever team wants it more and keeps their legs moving for a full 60 minutes is the team that will get the job done.
As far as a pick for tonight’s game I tip my hat to Babcock and the Wings. They have the experience up front, as do the Hawks, but they are the underdogs in the match-up and the pressure is not on them as it is on Chicago. Chicago is facing a much better team than they did in the first round, and a much better goaltender.
It won’t be an easy victory for Detroit, it may even take overtime but give me the Red Wings and the +175 money line odds as I will ride them most likely every game if they continue to be this much of an underdog.
Detroit Red Wings +175 (risking $100 to win $175)
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