SERIES REVIEW: Sigh of Relief: Chicago avoids embarrassment, creep past Detroit in seven.

Datsyuk and Seabrook shake hands following a battle for the ages. Image courtesy of cbc.ca.

The Chicago Blackhawks weren’t expected to walk-over the Detroit Red Wings, a team that should never be underrated, but they weren’t expected to be on the verge of elimination, especially not as early as the second round.  The Wings showed an incredible amount of not only resilience — having taken down the high-flying Ducks in the first round already — but also surprising skill and power when up against such a foe as Chicago.  Nicklas Lidstrom may be gone, but the Winged Wheel has proven once again they are more than any one man.

NOTE: I’m afraid I’m going to be incredibly lazy with this one; we’re well past the conclusion of the previous series and – massive apologies to our readers for this – I haven’t found the time to do an in-depth review.  Nonetheless, you can still find all the highlights in one beautifully presented post right here, not to mention the Keys to the Series.  ‘Cos we rock.  

GAME 1

GAME 2

GAME 3

GAME 4

GAME 5

GAME 6

GAME 7

KEY STATISTICS

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS DETROIT RED WINGS
EVEN STRENGTH GOALS 12 14
POWERPLAY GOALS  4 1
TOTAL SHOTS ON NET  238 199
EVEN STRENGTH SHOTS  197 158
POWERPLAY SHOTS  31 38
MISSED SHOTS  69 65
BLOCKED SHOTS ATTEMPTED  90 81
TOTAL SHOTS (ON NET+MISSED+BLOCKED)  397 345
GIVEAWAYS  46 54
PENALTIES TAKEN  36 34
HITS  178 219

KEYS TO THE SERIES

  • The fact that this series went to seven games makes the teams seem closer in ability and talent than they really were.  Chicago outplayed Detroit in many of the most important aspects of the game, especially in puck possession.
  • Detroit enjoyed a fair amount (though not ridiculous) of good luck at even strength, which ensured they stayed in games.  Whilst Chicago shot at a relatively poor 6.09% rate at 5v5, Detroit shot at a far greater 8.86%.  It may not look like much but that can make a huge difference in games, and Chicago were kept in by their far more effective powerplay.
  • Detroit’s physicality didn’t particularly help them here, though it wasn’t necessarily a detriment either.  The fact that most of the successful teams in this years playoffs – sans the LA Kings – aren’t the more physical teams, it just goes to show that it’s playing better hockey that wins, not hitting more.
  • On the face of it, the goalies were very even in this series.  Crawford sported a 0.932 SV% and 2.00 GAA, whilst Howard came out of it with a 0.938 SV% and 2.14 GAA.  Yet, a closer look shows that Crawford started excellently, but quickly dropped right down for a couple of games before storming back for the rest of the series.
  • Howard meanwhile, was arguably Detroit’s MVP for at least the first 4 games, being absolutely lights out until a mediocre game 5 and a terrible game 6.  In other words, Crawford got better with the increased pressure, and Howard slipped a little; that’s over simplifying it and applying a bit of a narrative, but that’s certainly how it looks.

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