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Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: #2 Anaheim Ducks vs. #7 Detroit Red Wings

In Hockey on April 29, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Lost in the scrum of how dominant the Blackhawks and Penguins were this year was the stellar season turned in by the Anaheim Ducks. Bruce Boudreau turned a team that not many expected to challenge for a playoff spot into an offensive juggernaut, just like he did in Washington. Getting a bounce-back season from captain Ryan Getzlaf and stellar goaltending from both Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth has been critical to the team’s success. Both veterans and youngsters at both forward and on defense, including the immortal Teemu Selanne, have spelled success for the Ducks all year long.

But despite their Pacific Division title, the Ducks still can’t get any respect. As good as they’ve been, alot of people still consider the Ducks’ season a fluke. I’m not saying it’s a fluke, they’ve been great. But some guys (Francois Beauchemin, for example) played out of their minds all year and may have gotten a bit of a break with the short season. So Anaheim should be carrying a big ass chip on their shoulder as they get ready for the playoffs.

Standing in their way are the Detroit Red Wings, who played their best hockey of the year when it counted. The held off the Stars and Blue Jackets (#Lumbus forever!) to clinch their 22nd straight playoff berth, thanks to some outstanding play from Henrik Zetterberg and Jimmy Howard. With their playoff pedigree, some even have the Wings as the favorite in this series.

Detroit has also seen several role players make the jump to NHL regulars. I still worry that the Wings aren’t going to be able to score enough to be able to hang with the Ducks. Val Filppula is going to need to be better than he was during the regular season to give the Wings some secondary scoring. But the Wings play hard and they will not back down from the Pacific Division champs.

The Ducks will win if:They continue to get secondary scoring. It’s a given that the Getzlaf-Perry line is going to see a steady dose of Pavel Datsyuk. So the likes of Andrew Cogliano, Saku Koivu, Selanne, etc. will need to take some of the heat off the top line. Watching those two centers clash is going to be awesome, but I like the support for the Ducks alot more than what the Wings will be trotting out.

The Red Wings will win if:Jimmy Howard plays up to his new contract. I don’t know what took the Red Wings so long to get Howard locked up long-term. He was great down the stretch, and unlike the Ducks’ goaltending tandem, we know who will be in the cage for the Winged Wheel. The Ducks have the offensive edge and with guys like Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl getting set for their first playoff run, Howard could have some messes to clean up.

Prediction:This one is going to be a battle. But the offensive depth the Ducks possess gives them the edge in a series that I expect to get nasty in a hurry. Ducks in 7.

I am Ryan Thomas, and I approve this post. Follow me on Twitter @rthomas_22 and criticize me for not looking at any stats before posting this.