2. Detroit Red Wings vs. 8. Anaheim Ducks
Western Conference Quarterfinal: 4-0 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Detroit’s offense has eight players with four points or more in their four first round games. It probably has to do with their 31.8% power play, the best in the business. That’s really good. Of course, they did just take it to CBJ.
Pavel Datysuk, nominee for three regular season trophies, has two points. I don’t normally criticize anyone who scores in the playoffs, but when you lead a deep team like Detroit in the regular season by a margin of twenty four points (think about that) and your team has annihilated Columbus, I’m expecting you to be leading this, not 12th in team scoring.
76.9% penalty kill. That is not going to be good enough (and it’s the lowest among the teams left) in the playoffs.
Western Conference Quarterfinal: 4-2 vs. San Jose Sharks
Anaheim knocked off the top-seeded San Jose in the first round with a combination of youthful scoring and goaltending, amongst solid veteran play. Ryan Getzlaf was a beast, putting up eight points in the six games.
Taking an average of 26 shots per game isn’t the easiest way to score. Only the Rangers had fewer.
Taking 26 shots per game might be excusable if you also didn’t allow 38. I get that Jonas Hiller is good, but you can’t give Detroit that kind of opportunity.
Firepower, with lots of opportunities will let Detroit win this in 6.
3. Vancouver Canucks vs. 4. Chicago Blackhawks
Western Conference Quarterfinal: 4-0 vs. St. Louis Blues
Roberto Luongo leads all goaltenders in a couple of respectable categories. Goals against average? No problem, try 1.15. Save percentage? Oh, just .962. Nothing to sneeze about. Oh, and he really, really likes to win. Throw in that Vancouver had the second best penalty kill, at 95.8% and you might be worried about scoring.
Vancouver averaged 20.2 penalty minutes per game. This was the second highest total in the first round. Now, not to excuse this, however, when it comes to minors, Vancouver was actually 10th. One major and a couple of misconducts is what inflates the stats. So, if they can avoid the extracurriculars, they might be in decent shape.
Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks season posterboy, had one point in four games, an assist. That is nowhere near cutting it.
Western Conference Quarterfinal: 4-2 vs. Calgary Flames
Six players (including two defensemen) at a point per game, or better in the first round. Included in this group are three of the guys that scored game winners. So the big guys score goals, and they do it at the right time. Hmmm.
Nikolai Khabibulin, the backbone of Chicago, who was rightly attributed as one of the reasons why the Hawks won, nonetheless has the highest goals against average, and the lowest save percentage of any goalie remaining in the playoffs (with the exception of Jose Theodore, who we’re assuming will not appear).
David Bolland, averaging almost 20 minutes a game as ostensibly the second line scoring centre (but the highest ice time from a Chicago forward), has a total of 10 shots from six games, with exactly zero going in. His three assists mute that a bit, but he needs to score.
Roberto Luongo is magick. I like that. Chicago allows more shots and more goals against. I don’t like that. Vancouver could win this in 6.