NHL 2013 PLAYOFFS: ROUND 2 – CHICAGO vs DETROIT
SERIES BEGINS: WEDNESDAY 15th MAY 2013
PUCK DROP: 8PM ET (1AM GMT)
HOW WILL IT GO DOWN? Chicago had little trouble dispensing of the Minnesota Wild, wrapping up the series in 5 games. They averaged 3.4 goals per game and allowed a minuscule 1.4 goals against. Their powerplay only managed a 15.4% success rate, which is a worry, but remember they were playing the tight defensive systems of the Wild. This is an unbelievable Blackhawks team, who seem to be at the same level as they were when they won the Cup in 2010, if not exceeding that level. They score a ton of goals, allow very few, they win at home and on the road, and have the most depth at all positions of every team in the league. The one area they are not so proficient in is physicality, as they have been the least hitting team of the playoffs so far, but unsurprisingly that hasn’t stopped them winning.
They’ve been led so far on offence by veterans Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa with 6 points each, whilst Duncan Keith leads the team along with Nicklas Hjalmarsson with a +5 rating. Kane and Toews have been relatively quiet on the attack, but such is the offensive depth of the team that it didn’t matter; they’ll need them against the Wings however. Corey Crawford was stunning in the first round, finishing with a 1.32 GAA and a .950 SV%, and was arguably their MVP.
Detroit surprised many by making it past the high scoring Ducks, but make it they did and now they find themselves up against a powerhouse. They scored just 2.57 goals per game and allowed 3 goals against per game, but did enjoy a 24% success rate on the powerplay. They will need to score more, but that will be a tall order against the likes of Keith, Seabrook and Crawford, not to mention top defensive forwards like Toews, Hossa, Frolik and Bolland (when healthy).
Henrik Zetterberg started slowly but came on strong towards the end against the Ducks, finishing the series with a team leading 8 points, with Datsyuk not far behind with 7 points. Perhaps one of the most impressive forwards however was Justin Abdelkader, providing some secondary scoring, sound defensive ability (leads the team with a +4 rating) and a team leading 18 hits (whilst playing 2 games less than everybody else). They’re not receiving much scoring from the defence however, so that will need to improve. Jimmy Howard struggled at times but also made some stunning saves against the Ducks, including many at key times. In the matchup against Crawford however, Crawford wins every time.
PREDICTION: The Wings scraped through against a surprisingly good Ducks team, but there is nothing surprising about Chicago. They’re just that good. Detroit still have some top notch players, but there’s no way they defeat the Hawks this year. Chicago in five games.