Blue Jackets vs. Red Wings playoff preview

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The Blogs

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 Storyline

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.

The Numbers

Columbus Detroit
 Record 41-31-10 16th 51-21-10 3rd
 Pts % .561 15th .683 3rd
 Goals For/Game 2.68 21st 3.52 1st
 Goals Against/Game 2.72 9th 2.93 19th
 5-on-5 GF/GA 1.16 7th 1.20 4th
 PP% 12.7 29th 25.5 1st
 PK% 82.1 13th 78.3 25th
 Shots/Game 28.9 20th 36.2 1st
 Shots Against/Game 27.8 3rd 27.7 2nd
 FO % 51.2 11th 55.1 1st

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.

The Prediction

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.

NHL Playoffs Blog Coverage, Schedule and Scores - SB Nation

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