TBA vs. Winging It In Motown
The playoff graybeards in Detroit host the Blue Jackets as they make their first trip to the NHL playoffs.
The reigning Stanley Cup champions have coasted to yet another Central Division championship, but some doubts exist as to whether their defensive depth and goaltending are up to the challenge of defending the title. Also, all eyes will be on Columbus sensation Rick Nash as he tries to make a name for himself in the postseason.
Notice how Detroit's numbers are stellar, with the exception of the PK and Goals Against per Game? They don't give up many shots (2nd best), but the goaltending has been a weakness all year. Red Wings fans hope that Chris Osgood's experience will allow him to "flip the switch" and settle in well enough not to be a liability.
|2008 - Steve Mason||61||3664||33||20||7||7||140||2.29||1658||1518||.916||10|
|2008 - Ty Conklin||40||2246||25||11||2||4||94||2.51||1033||939||.909||6|
|2008 - Chris Osgood||46||2663||26||9||8||0||137||3.09||1208||1071||.887||2|
Last year, you couldn't get Columbus fans to quit hyping Pascal Leclaire as the Next Great Goalie, but an injury and another rookie later, and now it's the Steve Mason Show. Is he up to handling playoff pressure against the top offense in the NHL?
For Detroit, goaltending has been a sore spot all year. Coach Mike Babcock is putting his confidence in Osgood to start, but I doubt he'll wait long before putting in Conklin if things get dicey.
No OtF preview would be complete without a look at Penalty Plus/Minus, to see which players will head to, or send other players to, the box:
|Columbus||Penalties Drawn||Detroit||Penalties Drawn|
|Player||Draws||Fouls||Pen +/-||Player||Draws||Fouls||Pen +/-|
|Rick Nash||47||26||+21||Henrik Zetterberg||38||18||+20|
|Jared Boll||46||39||+7||Pavel Datsyuk||30||10||+20|
|Derek Dorsett||41||37||+4||Marian Hossa||30||25||+5|
|R.J. Umberger||32||22||+10||Valtteri Filppula||29||20||+9|
|Kris Russell||20||9||+11||Mikael Samuelsson||26||25||+1|
|Kristian Huselius||19||20||-1||Kirk Maltby||23||14||+9|
|Penalties Taken||Penalties Taken|
|Mike Commodore||17||47||-30||Niklas Kronwall||10||26||-16|
|Jared Boll||46||39||+7||Marian Hossa||30||25||+5|
|Derek Dorsett||41||37||+4||Mikael Samuelsson||26||25||+1|
|Fedor Tyutin||13||32||-19||Dan Cleary||22||23||-1|
|Rick Nash||47||26||+21||Tomas Kopecky||21||23||-2|
|Antoine Vermette||17||24||-7||Brett Lebda||5||23||-18|
Mike Commodore ranked at the very bottom of the Penalty Plus/Minus rankings all year, and if he gets matched up against Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and/or Hossa, I'm guessing you'll see him in the box shortly afterwards.
Goaltending is absolutely an Achilles heel for this team, and it will cost them at some point in these playoffs, but not in the first round. I'm going with the Detroit Red Wings.