Old v. New
Detroit has been aging for 20 years and though the transition from Yzerman-Fedorov to Datsyuk (34)-Zetterburg (32) appeared seamless there isn’t a pair of emerging young stars coming up behind the Eurotwins.
Ducks are powered up front by the tandem of Ryan Getzlaf (27) and Corey Perry (27). These Twins were united a decade ago back in Cincinnati of the AHL.
It’s a battle of old Wings looking for more day in the sun against the Ducks emerging stars.
Flash and Dash v. Bash and Smash
These Red Wings are Chicago-lite. They can skate, wheel and execute the pretty plays. While the Ducks have players have skill they wear you down physically before taking you out. It’s boxer v. puncher.
In this plot the Wings equalizer is long time Ryan Getzlaf nemesis Jordan Tootoo. The Ducks captain will be challenged to keep his emotions in check.
Jimmy Howard has had a stretch run reminiscent of the 2003 J.S. Giguere. In his last ten games Howard has posted 3 shutouts and GAA of 1.44.
While no announcement has been made I expect Jonas Hiller to get the start. As impressive as Howard’s stats are, Hiller is 2-0 with .963 SP and a GAA of 1 in his last two games. Hiller is a money goalie as his playoff record 7-6 GAA 2.23 SP .942 attests.
Coaching: Tactician v. Motivator
Playoff success eluded Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau in Washington. In Anaheim, he has a more balanced team though.
For many Ducks fans Mike Babcock will always represent the one that got away. His teams have won the Stanley Cup and Olympic Gold. You can’t argue with success.
With two relatively evenly matched teams, they get it done differently but each does get ‘er done, the difference is how well each is organized and the intangibles. Both of these factors weigh in favor of our Ducks.
Teemu Selanne has called this the tightest group he’s seen since the Cup winning team. It is also a healthy hockey team now that Luca Sbisa went full-bore at practice. The vets, including Getzlaf and Perry, know from experience that these opportunities don’t come along every year.
These Ducks are special. Four of them of them, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu and Sheldon Souray and Toni Lydman recognize that this may be their last best chance to win a Cup. Each is preparing to leave it all on the ice.
Another flock of Ducks, Ben Lovejoy, Matt Beleskey, Nick Bonino, Dave Steckel, Emerson Etem are successful in large part because their coach has believed in them.
Still another flock, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Francois Beauchemin, Andrew Cogliano are at or near the peak of their careers.
Two factors that can tilt a series are one-sided officiating and hot goal tending. Wings best chance of winning this series is the Ducks lose their cool and Jimmy Howard plays lights out hockey.
If our Ducks have accomplished one thing this season it is that they have risen to every challenge. They pushed the Blackhawks to the longest winning streak to start a season ever. When they had nothing left to play for they pulled themselves and finished strong.
The Wings represent a serious challenge not to be taken lightly. This is the best thing that could have happened to a team that consistently welcomes and responds to challenges.
Ducks in six.