It is that time of year folks. Playoff hockey begins tomorrow. The Anaheim Ducks finished with the 2nd seed in the Western Conference, which means a face off against the Detroit Red Wings in the Quarterfinal Round. The two sides have met in a couple of memorable playoff series, with each team enjoying the taste of victory. You could go back to series’ in the late 1990s where the Red Wings were at the peak of their dominance and easily handled the young Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Then came 2003. The Mighty Ducks dispatched of the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings in the Western Conference Quarterfinals via broomsticks. Then again in 2007 when the two met in the Western Conference Finals and once again, the Ducks defeated the Wings en route to their first and only Stanley Cup championship. Then, the Western Conference Semi-Finals in 2009 when the Ducks put up a fight in seven games, but were eliminated by the Wings with a game-winning goal late in the third period of Game 7.
This marks the first time since 2009 that these two franchises have met in the playoffs. I did a bit of research before writing this and found a blood soaked article written by a Detroit Red Wings blog called, “Winging It In Motown.” It was tough to read with their level of bias just being blurted all over the page. I enjoy a good rivalry, and this is one of the more underrated rivalries in the league. There is genuine hate between these two franchises and these two fan bases. Now, let’s get some input from a Wings fan and editor of Octopus Thrower, Peter Fish (yes that is his real last name):
- What kind of advantage does Mike Babcock have an advantage over Bruce Boudreau?
Mike Babcock is much more accomplished in the post-season than Boudreau, he has gotten past the semi-finals, unlike Boudreau, and won a Stanley Cup.
I was hoping for more of a strategic kind of answer, that’s probably on me, but he does speak the truth.
- Damien Brunner has had a roller coaster of a season. What do you see him doing in the playoffs?
He has had a roller coaster season mainly because he was not used to the travel or physicality of the NHL and hit the wall late in the season. He was moved from the 2nd line to the 3rd line and it has rejuvenated him. He is not scoring as much as before, but he is contributing on defense and creating scoring opportunities.
- Which player from the Ducks should the Red Wings fear?
Corey Perry‘s stick, I mean did you see what it did to the glass? Dangerous. Seriously though I am afraid of their goaltending, both Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller are very good goalies and who could take over the series. The case can be made for Getzlaf or Selanne, but the Wings defense has been amazing lately.
- Which player from the Red Wings should the Ducks fear?
Jimmy Howard. There are good arguments for Franzen, Datsyuk, and Zetterberg, but Howard has been incredible over the last few weeks of season. He gave the Wings a chance to win every game and he is a workhorse in net. The playoffs always seem to come down to who has the better goalie in net and Howard has the ability to be that goalie.
- Prediction on the series?
Red Wings win in 5 games. We beat Anaheim in the home-home series, which makes me believe we can beat the Ducks in their own house.
First, I want to thank Peter for his time. We exchanged a couple of questions with a couple being the same thing. He asked me what my personal feelings were when it comes to predictions. I don’t like to make predictions. I never have and I never will. However, I will make one now. I say the Ducks win this series in seven games. I have seen a few NHL analysts already say that they expect the Wings to pull off the upset and beat the Ducks. It is true that the Wings have played well against us this season and have played well here at Honda Center, too.
The Wings are a difficult team to beat. They have some supreme front end talent and a goalie who is as hot as any goalie in the league right now. Jimmy Howard has won his last four starts and has a 0.75 GAA and a .969 SV%. That is insane. Forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are two of the most skilled players in the world. Johan Franzen is one of the best big men in the entire league and is a force along the boards and in front of the net. Young Gustav Nyquist, Valtteri Filppula and Dan Cleary are big sources of secondary offense. Another guy who they depend on for secondary offense is rookie Damien Brunner who bursted into the league early on but has been up-and-down ever since. Never forget their pest Jordin Tootoo who has already been annoying to the Ducks. Their defense is led by the Swedes, Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson. Rookies Brendan Smith, Danny DeKeyser and Brian Lashoff have filled in fairly well with some of the injuries they have sustained on the blue line. I’m going to be upfront with this, I am a bit nervous about this series. The Red Wings are certainly capable of eliminating our Ducks.
I hate the Red Wings. I am not afraid to say that. But, I am not going to go the way of Winging It In Motown and just blast everything about the other team and call them douchebags like what they did about us. Red Wings fans have a certainly air of superiority about them because of their past, much like Canadiens fans. However, the Wings have actually done something worth remembering in recent memory and the Canadiens haven’t been relevant since 1993. So, don’t get me started on Les Habitants. But, I hate the Wings. I have Wings fans. They’ve been the “god child” of the league for a long time, them and the Pittsburgh Penguins, and I absolutely hate that. BUT, what I don’t have in common with those…..people……at Winging It In Motown, is that I RESPECT the Red Wings and I don’t think they respect the Ducks. So, I would love nothing more than seeing the Ducks lay waste to the Wings, but I really don’t think that will happen. The Ducks are going to have a tough time in this series.
Game 1 tomorrow. Fasten your seat belts.
Topics: 2013 NHL Playoffs, Anaheim Ducks, Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff, Bruce Boudreau, Corey Perry, Damien Brunner, Dan Cleary, Danny DeKeyser, Detroit Red Wings, Gustav Nyquist, Henrik Zetterberg, Honda Center, Jimmy Howard, Johan Franzen, Jonas Hiller, Jonathan Ericsson, Jordin Tootoo, Mike Babcock, NHL, Niklas Kronwall, Octopus Thrower, Pavel Datsyuk, Peter Fish, Valtteri Filppula, Viktor Fasth, Winging It In Motown