It's official - playoffs are here. And I'm going to suck it up, stop being a terrible blogger who hasn't posted a single thing since December 10th, and get back into the grind, because now things are serious. Forget this 'work' nonsense that's been consuming my life, forget the constant driving down to the Joe (I've gone to 20 Wings games [and 1 Capitals game!] this season, including the Winter Classic, and posted about exactly zero of them), forget the desperate attempts to have a life outside of NHL Center Ice on my TV - the playoffs are here.
Yesterday night the playoff schedule hit the internet - although we already knew the Detroit Red Wings would start the post-season off against familiar Central Division foe, the Columbus Blue Jackets...so here we go.
Keys to Winning:
First and foremost the Wings have to play like they care. The team this season has an uncanny ability to turn it off as easily as they can turn it on. It's no secret that the Wings have a huge lineup of devastating forwards - Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Marian Hossa, Johan Franzen, and on down the line. Unfortunately if the team decides to play lackluster hockey (see: Sunday's game against the Blackhawks) all the offense in the world can't save them. The talent levels are there (can you think of anyone on the Blue Jackets you really want to compare to the Wings top line talent?), but they have to want it to win it, and you know the Blue Jackets, making their first post-season appearance ever, want it. Equally important, the Wings have got to take this series seriously. Yes it's the Blue Jackets, yes again, and no it might not be a team that inspires fear in its opponents...but the last time the Wings blew them off they lost 8-2 at home.
Another huge, possibly the hugest, part of this series is going to be goaltending. The Red Wings' Chris Osgood, who took over the starting role from Dominik Hasek around this time last season, has strugging mightily this season, looking shaky at best. Meanwhile the Columbus Blue Jackets are riding rookie sensation Steve Mason and his 10 shutouts, .916 SV%. Looks pretty impressive standing next to Ozzie's 2, .887. Wings fans can hope for three things, however - first of all, that Ozzie gets it together. His game against the Predators last week, despite ending in a loss, was one of his best games all season long, and he has plenty of playoff experience. Second, that the Wings offense steps it up enough to solve Mason (the Blue Jackets have three 20 goal scorers, the Wings have five) and the defense, which has also faultered this year, can protect Osgood a little better. Third, the playoff-inexperienced Mason chokes under the pressure. Come on Wings, let's teach them that there's only one "Stevie Franchise".
Finally, the Wings are going to have to solve Rick Nash. The guy has two hat tricks against the Wings already this season and whether it be luck or skill, Nash has got our number. It's got to stop right now, or we're going to be in for a long summer.
|Thursday, April 16||at Detroit, 7:00 p.m.||VERSUS, TSN|
|Saturday, April 18||at Detroit, 6:00 p.m.||TSN|
|Tuesday, April 21||at Columbus, 7:00 p.m.||TSN|
|Thursday, April 23||at Columbus, 7:00 p.m.||TSN|
|*Saturday, April 25||at Detroit, 7:00 p.m.||VERSUS, TSN|
|*Monday, April 27||at Columbus, TBD||TSN|
|*Wednesday, April 29||at Detroit, TBD||VERSUS, TSN|
Around the Web:
The usual Detroit culprits can be found at:
Last and probably least:
Dammit, Red Wings, if for no other reason please, please knock the Blue Jackets out fast so we won't have to deal with any more of this Ohioan rivalry nonsense - the Wings are NOT U of M and the Jackets are certainly no OSU. Stop the crossover! Stop it now! Please!
Plus, as my mother points out, the Wings should be well rested for this series - they haven't really played in about a week. Wings in 6, GO DETROIT!