Wings flying through the postseason


Guest Blogger

The Detroit Red Wings defense of the Stanley Cup continues in game three of the Western Conference Finals on Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Many speculated that this would be a very tight series, possibly taking seven games to crown a victor. However, the Wings have proven to be too overpowering for Chicago in the first two games of the series, resulting in a 2-0 series lead for Detroit.

Chicago is young and inexperienced, and it certainly hinders them this deep in the playoffs. Veteran Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin has struggled so far against Detroit, facing 81 shots and allowing seven goals combined in the two games. Khabibulin has not had an easy playoff run, allowing 2.86 goals against average, worst among active goalies in the playoffs.

Detroit’s game plan for the pivotal game three should simply be to pressure Chicago early on their home ice. After games one and two, Detroit has only outshot Chicago 81 to 71. The Red Wings also need to keep the Blackhawks off of the power play. Chicago’s power-play percentage is best in the playoffs at 30.8%.

The Wings will again hope for Johan Franzen to contribute offensively as he has been doing throughout the playoffs. So far in the postseason Franzen has 18 points, with nine goals and nine assists. Goalie Chris Osgood has been somewhat better than expected, having a playoff best among active goalies of 2.04 goals against average. Opposing goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is a solid veteran who already has one Stanley Cup Championship, and the Wings will need quality scoring chances to get the puck past him.

Detroit has too much firepower for the Hawks to handle. The Wings also learned that they need to get better defensively, after their seven-game series with Anaheim. Look for Detroit to pressure Chicago early and often.