5.16.2007

Conference Finals Analysis "2"

Oops, I goofed up. Sorry Detroit and Anaheim fans, I totally forgot to write about your series too. Deeply sorry, a huge mistake. (What do you expect, I'm Eastern Conference "media"?). Here we go.

Detroit Red Wings (1) vs. Anaheim Ducks (2)
Prediction- Anaheim in 6 games
This is the series where you will see defense, defense defense. How could you not, when there are three Norris trophy finalists among the two teams, along with several other great defensemen?
Detroit- The Wings are solid in all areas of the game. Offense- Just like in the regular season, the Wings are receiving a majority of their offense from Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Pavel Datsyuk. However, instead of the Ottawa style, where one line does all the scoring (which would be Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and bargain Tomas Holmstrom here), they have also received offense from Johan Franzen, D-man Mathieu Schneider, Mikael Samuelsson, Daniel Cleary, and the ageless defender Chris Chelios. All of those players have 5 points or more. Defense- Now, you can't win games just by scoring, and the Wings can take care of things in their own end as well. The top six defenders (Lidstrom, Schneider, Chelios, Brett Lebda, Danny Markov, Andreas Lilja) are solid in their own end. However, with Lebda and Schneider injured coming into this series, the Red Wings are forced to go with Kyle Quincey, and possibly Derek Meech, although Lebda could play. Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Valtteri Filpulla, and occasionally Jiri Hudler are used as checking forwards. Goaltending- The Wings have received solid play from veteran Dominik Hasek, who has won a Stanley Cup once with the Wings already, and been to the Finals another time with Buffalo. Back-up Chris Osgood has the experience of winning a Cup as a starter with the Wings, and as a back-up with them.
Anaheim- The Ducks have good players up front, but is their depth strong enough? Offense- It was easy enough to predict who would score for the Ducks in the regular season, but the playoffs have featured a different group of scorers. Expected leaders Andy McDonald, Teemu Selanne, and Chris Kunitz have put up numbers, but ones more expected by second or third-liners. D-men Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, and Francois Beauchemin all score, while the "youth" line of Ryan Getzlaf, Dustin Penner, and Corey Perry have carried the offense with the unusually high-scoring Samuel Pahlsson and Travis Moen. Defense- The Ducks have a strong point here. Pronger, Niedermayer, and Beauchemin are the big three, while Kent Huskins, Joe DiPenta, and Sean O'Donell are solid in limited playing time. Moen, Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer (yes, he is Scott's brother), Ryan Shannon, Brad May, and Shawn Thornton are better in their own end. Goaltending- The Ducks have two experienced post-season goalies. This is J-S Giguere's third trip to the Conference Finals, as back-up or starter, and he has won a Conn Smythe Trophy for his play in the 2003 playoffs. Ilya Bryzgalov's playoff time is much more limited, but he too has the experience of a Conference Finals trip. In the first two games against Minnesota, Bryzgalov pressured Anaheim to keep him in net for the playoffs, although Giguere has been even better.

Sorry that this comes out two games into the series, but at least I got it out. A special rookie report follows.

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