With the Detroit vs Anaheim series wrapped up and the Western conference schedule set, we get to take a better look at our opponent. The Red Wings went on a tear at the end of the season to muscle their way into the seventh seed. They went into the Ducks series hot and had built up some confidence. They nearly blew a two goal lead in the third period of game seven, but the Wings pulled through and now face down our very own Chicago Blackhawks. So let’s answer a few questions that have been asked.
10) Will the extra rest hurt the Hawks?
If you go by what Q says, then we should see a more focused effort from the team. Q stated that he was disappointed in the Hawks performance in the first round and that the Hawks still have another gear we haven’t seen yet. It will take a period at most to get the game legs back, so no worries.
9) How much of an impact will Zetterberg and Datsyuk have in the series?
If you look at the regular season series, you can get an idea of who we focused on shutting down, and those two combined were held to a single point. Just like in the Minnesota series, I think we’ll see the Hawks shutting down the big names. Detroit’s best bet will be to keep Datsyuk and Zetterberg split up if they want to get a boost in production.
8) If the Detroit stars get shut down, who do the Hawks need to look out for?
Again, if you can take the regular season into account, then I have to say Franzen and Emmerton, but I think I would swap Emmerton for Brunner and Abdelkader. The Hawks will have to watch out for the depth scoring, and by that I mean they can’t lose their assignments. The Detroit leaders are really carrying the load for their team, so the Hawks still need to focus on defense. This will in turn give the Wings’ depth guys the opportunity to shine.
7) Will the Hawks need to play a dump and chase game like they were forced to with the Wild?
I don’t think it will be as drastic as it was with the Wild. The Wings still have a skilled and crafty crew, and like we saw throughout the season, I think there will be a solid battle of finesse and skill. Babcock will most likely switch things up as the series plays out, and Q might have to look at match ups closer.
6) Can Crawford continue playing as well as he did against Minnesota?
Crawford has had a great series against Detroit, including some really neat highlight reel saves. Crow has a .960 save percentage and a 1.25 GAA in the four games against Detroit in the regular season. He has gained some confidence from his performance during the regular season and an overall solid showing in the playoffs. Nothing is better than when a goaltender is feeling hot.
5) Any Hawks players that we need to be worried about?
Well, the rumor mill has Stalberg in Q’s doghouse, and whether or not that’s true will be seen Wednesday night. Some suspected Handzus was in some trouble with Bolland coming back, but Q said Bolland would have to work his way back up into the second line spot.
4) Will Emery get a start?
Q has been a very happy, confident coach this year, and it’s true he has made some odd choices with playing his goalies at times. But right now, I don’t see him changing a thing because of the way Crow has been playing recently.
3) The Hawks looked like they had trouble with a healthy Harding. Will Howard give them problems?
It seems that a lot of good Detroit goalies get a bad reputation from the popular belief that the Wings win despite their goaltending rather than because of it. Howard has been judged as such a bit unfairly. Yes, he did give the Ducks some easy goals, but with the defense in front of him, I can’t blame the guy. Howard has already shown he can go toe to toe with Crow, but I think the Hawks will just be too much for him and his team.
2) Which player for the Hawks should we be worried about defensively?
That’s a tricky question, because useless stats say Leddy was our worst defenseman, but it never looked that way during actual play. Rozsival will be our weak link as the games go by. He’s a bit slow, and I can see Babcock trying to get Datsyuk and Zetterberg out there with him to really take advantage of that. This could be a rough series for Rozsival
1) Who will be the Hawks’ star for this series?
I can see Kane shining in the assist department and Saad scoring a few big goals. Saad didn’t have a great series with the Wild, but I think he can take advantage of the Wings’ defense. Detroit has struggled to keep the puck out of their net against the Ducks, and I can’t see how they are going to fare any better against the well balanced attack of the Hawks.