Conference Finals Preview: Detroit vs. Chicago

With the Eastern Conference Finals already preview found here, we now take a look at the Western Conference Finals.

Offense

Most people feel that the Blackhawks probably shouldn't be here.  Their leading scorers are too young and the team as a whole is just too young to handle the pressure.  Captain Jonathan Towes has 10 points which is good for third on the team and Buffalo native Patrick Kane has 12 points which makes him second and leads the team in goals.  What no one expected was that the veteran leadership on this team in Martin Havlat would have such a presence.  Havlat leads the team in points and assists. 

The Detroit Red Wings have one of those well balanced offenses that feature so many weapons to be afraid of.  From leading point scorer, Johan Franzen, to Zetterberg and Lidstrom and Hossa, this team has enough players to keep any defense guessing.  Nineteen Red Wings have recorded a point and fourteen playes have registered a goal.

Advantage:  Detroit

Defense

What makes the Red Wing team dangerous is not their weapons on offense, but the way that their defense clamps down on their opponents.  The Red Wings have allowed the second least amount of goals per game so far in this postseason with 2.18.  Led by Norris trophy finalist, Nicolas Lidstrom, this Detroit defense will clamp down on their opponents and play a suffocating style of defense.

The Chicago defense is more of a puck moving defense that tries to get that outlet pass to their play making offenders.  They allow roughly a goal per game more than their counterparts the Red Wings and could be in trouble if the game becomes a defensive struggle.

Advantage:  Detroit

Goaltending

Chris Osgood has won three Stanley Cups in his career.  He has played in numerous playoff series and Conference Finals games.  Osgood has the experience and the knowhow in winning these games.  The only issue is that he has lost a step in the last few years and probably could be a liability at certain points

On the other end, Nikolai Khabibulin has been a main reason why this Blackhawk team has been able to advance so far.  At times, he has been able to carry this team on his shoulders and win games that they shouldn't win.  He has also been a liability himself with the worst GAA and SV% in the playoffs.  That being said, he shouldn't be that bad in this series.

Advantage:  Chicago

Special Teams

Chicago and Detroit has the first and second best power plays in the postseason.  The Blackhawks and Red Wings have had middle of the road penalty kills as well during this postseason.  The only advantage that the Red Wings may have here is that they take about five less penalty minutes a game over Chicago.  That being said, not much of an advantage.

Advantage:  Push

Intangibles

The Anaheim Ducks took the Red Wings to a game seven while the Blackhawks took care of the Canucks in six games.   That gave them an extra few days off to rest and heal.  At the same time, these teams know each other really well after playing six times against each other this season and in a pressure situation with the Winter Classic in January.  The Red Wings won that game in front of a Chicago crowd. 

Advantage:  Detroit

Outcome

The Red Wings and Blackhawks really, really dislike each other.  This should make for a really good series and the NHL thinks the same way with two games on NBC.  The Blackhawks are the inexperienced team that shouldn't be here yet.  The Red Wings are the defending champions who always have the bullseye on their back.  The Red Wings will just have too much for this Blackhawk team and will win this series in six.

Schedule

Sunday, May 17 at Detroit, 3:00 p.m. NBC, TSN, RDS
Tuesday, May 19 at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. VERSUS, TSN, RDS
Friday, May 22 at Chicago, 8:00 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Sunday, May 24 at Chicago, 3:00 p.m. NBC, CBC, RDS
* Wednesday, May 27 at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
* Saturday, May 30 at Chicago, 8:00 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
* Monday, June 1 at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS

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