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Posts Tagged ‘Johan Franzen’

Previewing the Ducks-Red Wings Series, with a Special Guest Host

In Hockey on April 30, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Today April 30, 2013 marks a special day in the history of this blog, as we are running our first ever guest piece. We here at The D.A.R.T. Board enjoy visitors, and joining us for a last minute preview of the Anaheim-Detroit series is the one and only Pierre Canard. As the only Ducks’ fan I have ever come in contact with, I had a moment of weakness when I asked Pierre to lend his thoughts to the Ducks’ first round matchup.

So boys and girls, without further ado, here is Pierre’s take on the Ducks-Wings series (which may not be as awesome as mine, which you can read here).

Anaheim started off hot and fast, posting an impressive record that was overshadowed by the Chicago Blackhawks historic streak. While the Ducks streak out of the gate went relatively unnoticed, the team comfortably “flew under the radar”, building up an impressive lead that, with the exception of a bit of a slide towards the end of the season, cemented the teams second Pacific Division title.

Detroit on the other hand, struggled out of the gate, (understandably so) in the Red Wings first season post-Lidstrom. The team saw the obvious lack of defensive depth exploited initially, and had struggled with injuries up front. Detroit closed out the season very strong, on the backs of Jimmy Howard, and the still reliable forward depth.

The teams faced off three times this season, with the road team always winning. Detroit won 2 games (back to back) in Anaheim, where the Ducks were outclassed.

I am obviously biased towards the Ducks, but the depth that Anaheim has had is something any team would desire. With 6 players with 10 or more goals, and even more depth throughout the line up, the Ducks are team that easily rolls 4 lines.Ryan Getzlaf (fresh off an extension) has returned to form, and the other omnipresent threats like Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry (who also re-signed with the Ducks), are complimented with pleasantly surprising performances from Saku Koivu, Andrew Cogliano and Kyle Palmieri. Defensively, this team is built very well, with Francois Beauchemin enjoying a career year, Sheldon Souray enjoying his own resurgence. Cam Fowler has been struggling with injuries this season, with solid depth further in the line up in Luca Sbisa, Toni Lydman and Bryan Allen rounding out the rotation. Ben Lovejoy, a mid season pickup was a revelation, has played his way into the lineup. The Ducks also enjoy a terrific depth in net, with Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller posting 15 wins each.

Detroit has seen Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Val Filppula get support from younger blood in Dan Cleary, Justin Abdelkader and Damien Brunner in scoring, but beyond the top 6, this team struggles mightily in scoring depth. (However Jordin Tootoo is a constant threat to Anaheim’s sanity; in his time with the Predators he was a constant thorn in the Ducks side, and always got the Ducks off their game). Defensively, Detroit simply has no real threats beyond Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall. The drop off cannot possibly be expected to compete in a long series. Jimmy Howard looks to carry the load for the Red Wings.

My Take:

Detroit and Anaheim always have great playoff battles- Detroit stormed into the playoffs, while Anaheim did cool off towards the end of the season. Detroit’s hot streak worries me; this is a team that can still do damage despite the depth limitations. Jimmy Howard quietly has had another good year, and is capable of stealing games for his team. Anaheim’s depth is intimidating, and should be able to wear down Detroit over the series. This will make for some great TV, and I have Anaheim winning the series in 6 games.

I would like to thank the owners of this blog for the opportunity to post my incoherent thoughts on this series. Feel free to agree/disagree/stir up some arguments with me on Twitter @SargeTheDuck.

And there you have it! If you like Pierre’s take on the Ducks, follow him on Twitter because there’s plenty more where that came from. If you didn’t like it, tell me and I’ll be sure to let Pierre know on the 7th of Never.

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2011-12 NHL Season Preview: Detroit Red Wings

In Hockey on September 13, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Detroit Red Wings

A Look Back at 2010-11
Coming off the first season the Red Wings didn’t claim the Central Division crown since 2000, the Red Wings looked to not only climb back to the top of their division, but back to the Stanley Cup Finals and add another banner to an already crowded rafters at The Joe. They were able to do just that, fighting off the Predators and Blackhawks for the crown. After cruising through their first-round sweep against Phoenix, the Red Wings fell behind the Sharks 3-0, battle back to tie the series, only to fall in game seven at the Sharks Tank. It was one of the greatest playoff series of all time, as six of the seven games were decided by one goal. Once the season ended, there was much speculation about the status of Nicklas Lidstrom, who hit the 40-year old mark. Lidstrom would win the Norris Trophy in a remarkable performance throughout the season, and he confirmed he is coming back for yet another season. The team had a better bill of health than the year before, with only Pavel Datsyuk missing significant time. But as many good things that I can say about the way the Red Wings played last year, and there are plenty, the goal that this team has every year is to win the Stanley Cup, and they fell to the Sharks for the second year in a row. That just won’t do in Hockeytown. Grade: B

A Look Ahead to 2011-12

Forwards

Pavel Datsyuk's health could determine how high the Wings finish in the West.

Not a lot of turnover in the Detroit forwards, as Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Dan Cleary, Datsyuk, Todd Bertuzzi and Valtteri Filppula make up the team’s top two lines. Zetterberg continues to produce at a consistent rate each and every year, and last year he was able to play in 80 games, setting a new career high. Datsyuk showcased himself to be one of the most fun players in the league to watch, as he amazed everyone throughout the playoffs with ridiculous moves in both the San Jose and Phoenix series.  He is, without question, the most important member of this team, and the fact that he missed more than 20 games with injury could have been the difference between the Wings hosting game seven as opposed to playing it in San Jose. He might be the best player in the league on both sides of the puck, and he’s an absolute blast to watch. The Wings missed Franzen for the final three games of the San Jose series, but he led the team in goals last year. Bertuzzi, Filppula and Cleary aren’t a flashy second line, yet they continue to produce. In the bottom group of forwards, Tomas Holmstrom continues to be a pest in front of the opposing nets and will see plenty of time on the Detroit power play. The team has youth and speed occupying the bottom six in the form of Jiri Hudler, Pat Eaves, Justin Abdelkader, Drew Miller and Darren Helm. Those guys may not see much time each game, but when they do, they’re capable of causing chaos out on the ice. Ask any other team in the league, and they would love to have the luxury of a Helm-Abdelkader-Eaves fourth line. These guys will be the team Detroit goes to war with each night, but they have help on the way for some of their elder forwards in Tomas Tatar, Calle Jarnkrok, and Tomas Jurco. They’re already good, and the Wings are going to continue to be good for a long time. Grade: A- (They have scary depth and any of their lines can burn you on a given night. Even when someone goes down, someone else fills their void. That’s solid.)

Defense

Nicklas Lidstrom comes back for one more shot at the Stanley Cup

Like I said earlier, Nick Lidstrom returns for his 21st year in the league. At the end of the 2010 season, I thought he was done and headed back to Sweden for good. Fortunately, I was wrong, as Lidstrom was great last season, playing in all 82 games and finishing second on the team in scoring. I’m going to be watching as many Red Wings games as I can this year, because if it’s his last year, I don’t want to cheat myself out of seeing the best defenseman of this era to play some more. The team lost a valuable member when Brian Rafalski decided to hang up the blades, but they got a bargain and someone that I feel will have a very good year in Detroit in Ian White. White arrived in San Jose last year and made the opposition pay attention to the defense when Dan Boyle wasn’t on the ice. He’s got a good shot and should benefit on the team’s second pairing. Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart each enter the final years of their deals, and with Lidstrom at the end of his career, each guy should be looking to secure their place in Hockeytown for the future. Kronwall stepped up as Lidstrom’s heir apparent, recording a career high in goals and forcing opposing forwards to keep their heads up when coming up the ice. Dany Heatley and Ryane Clowe were each punished by Kronwall in the San Jose series, and neither was the same for the remainder for the playoffs. Stuart hasn’t lived up to the hype he had coming into the league and as a rookie, but he’s still a fine option on the team’s second pairing. Jonathan Ericsson was set to hit the market, but eventually re-signed for a number that some considered to be high for a third-pairing defenseman. But he’s still young and the Wings could need him once Lidstrom retires. Plus, Ericsson brings a physical game that not many Swedish defensemen bring. Mike Commodore was signed from Columbus and brings a big body with a nasty side to the Detroit blue line. He will battle Jakub Kindl and youngster Brendan Smith for a spot on the Detroit blue line. Smith is a future star for the Wings, but he may not be ready this year. But for this year, they’re solid once again and could handle an injury if one were to happen. Look the hell out. Grade: A

Goaltending

For the Wings to be better, Jimmy Howard will have to be better every night

This was what could be pointed to as the reason the Red Wings weren’t able to rise above a Sharks team that struggled for much of the first part of the season and grab the two-seed. Jimmy Howard suffered through a sophomore slump of his own last year, saw his stats decline, as the Wings finished 23rd in the league in goals against. The Wings haven’t finished that poorly in that category in years. Howard needs to take some share of the blame, as he was in goal for 63 of Detroit’s games. But he played better down the stretch of the regular season, he outplayed Ilya Bryzgalov in the Phoenix series, and he game his team a chance to win in the San Jose series.  He’s got one more year left to make the Red Wings’ front office a believer in him before they give Thomas McCollum a chance to be the goalie of the future. Ty Conklin returns to Detroit after a dismal two years as the backup in St. Louis and will team with Joey MacDonald to give Howard a breather when need be. However, this is Howard’s team, for now. The Wings will probably be looking for backup help as the year goes on and Howard doesn’t post better numbers. If the team has a weakness, this is it. Grade: B-

Prediction:
This won’t be the last chance for this group of players to take a run at the Cup. But this could be the last shot Lidstrom has at one. This team should scare the hell out of anyone come playoff time, and they’ll be in the discussion to represent the West in the Cup Finals once again. Nothing new for the Wings. I would love nothing more than for Detroit and Vancouver to have an armageddon-style series and destroy each other before meeting the Sharks. Alas, it’s only just a dream. 1st in Central, 2nd in West.