NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks

One Does Not Simply Walk Into Mordor – Previewing The Scum Forwards

Now that the Hawks finally have a second round opponent, it’s time to take a closer look at the Detroit Red Wings’ forwards. The names and faces might be familiar and nauseating, but it’s a necessary evil. So plug your nose, and we might be able to get through this together.

Coach Mike Babcock jumbled his lines for the final two games against the Ducks in order to separate Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to get a more balanced attack. But lines started out in game 7 as follows with Dats and Z together:

Zetterberg – Datsyuk – Abdelkader
Franzen – Filppula – Cleary
Nyqvist – Andersson – Brunner
Bertuzzi – Samuelsson – Eaves

Obviously, the top threat the Wings possess is the Datsyuk line, either with or without Zetterberg. Both had an excellent series against the Ducks, with 2G and 5A for Dats, and 3G and 5A for Z.  However, it won’t be surprising to see Franzen and Zetterberg flip flop when facing the Hawks, as Babcock will want to space out his defensive awareness against a team that wants to run and gun like the Hawks. Franzen’s ugly -5 to go along with his three goals against a team not nearly as quick as the Hawks show that he can be exposed, as he’s simply no longer as quick as he used to be to be a banging physical force.

Despite only playing in five of the games due to his suspension and only having three points in the series, Justin Abdelkader has been making his presence known on Detroit’s top line since getting slotted in next to Datsyuk late in the year. As evidenced by his illegal hit on Toni Lydman, Abdelkader is not afraid to get physical on the forecheck, and is one of Detroit’s only top 6 threats in that regard, so look for him to hound the Hawk defensemen, likely Keith and Hjalmarsson down below the goal line.

Scum’s third line sports a couple of newcomers, Gustav Nyqvist and Damien Brunner, both of whom have OT game winners to their names from the series against Anaheim. Brunner has been the more productive of the two, with 2G and 3A, as Nyqvist and centerman Andersson have only two points a piece. The fourth line has been a mish-mash of veterans and youth for Babcock with the aging criminal Bertuzzi and long-time ass-rash Mikael Samuelsson mostly absorbing minutes and not doing much else down there. Drew Miller, Patrick Eaves, and professional dickwad Jordin Tootoo have all been platooning in and out of the lineup as health has warranted.

A couple notes on the forward corps as a whole. First, is that the team’s primary three centermen, Datsyuk, Filppula, and Andersson are all well over 50% at the faceoff dot, which could pose some problems for the Hawks. With Jonathan Toews being the only Hawk consistently able to win a draw, making a Hawks team that’s not built to chase and forecheck without the puck will be key for Scum, especially considering they still want to play the same possession game they have in the past, despite not having the same level of firepower.

And regarding that firepower, over the course of seven games, the Wings were outscored 13 to 11 at even strength by the Ducks, which is why you’ll see a rash of minuses up and down the scoresheet. The Hawks will not be able to continue the parade to the box they found themselves in in games four and five against Minny, as Scum has the veteran smarts to make the Hawks pay on the kill. It’s important right now to realize that the Hawks will not hold Scum to bagels across the board on the advantage, so there’s no need go batshit when it happens, providing the timing isn’t catastrophic. But playing a more disciplined game to keep things 5 on 5 will absolutely be in the Hawks’ best interest.

Joel Quenneville will assuredly not be nearly as cavalier about rolling all four lines regardless of matchups in this series, especially if Datsyuk and Zetterberg remain apart. Dave Bolland’s return could loom large depending on where he’s slotted in, though at practice today he was back in his usual spot being flanked by Kane and Sharp. Look for Babcock to try to get the Datsyuk line out against this unit, as they can be hemmed in from time to time, and Dats’ puck wizardry can only exacerbate that for the Hawks. If that’s the case, look for Q to respond by getting them away from Dats when at home, even if it’s against Zetterberg on another line, as he dictates far less from the wing with Filppula as his center.

This is about an ideal a matchup as the Hawks could ask for. The lack of a punishing forecheck (with some exceptions) from the Wings should make life a little more bearable for the Hawk defensemen, allowing them to make a tape-to-tape pass with time when breaking out, and keying the Hawks attack. Likewise, the Wings are built to carry the puck over the blue line on zone entry, and the Hawk D are fare more adept at standing up rushing puck carriers than mucking in the corners. If the Hawks can keep things five on five and at least keep things reasonably close at the faceoff circle, they should give themselves plenty of time and space to operate in this series.

  • http://twitter.com/Bobby_Otter Bobby Otter

    Agree, this really did break well for the Hawks. The Wings can’t be taken lightly, but from a style of play stand point, I’d much rather play the Wings than Sharks. Should be a really fun, pleasing for the eye series to watch.

    And I wouldn’t mind if Q got the 3rd line band back together to match up with Datsyuk, thus putting Kruger on the 2nd line. Also should we be on the look out for a Marlboro 72 reunion this series?

    • roadhog

      While Q may feel compelled to juggle upfront, I don’t see a return of 72 in the playoffs barring a Hammer/Leddy injury. Maybe late in a game or on a key possession . . .

  • 334Rules

    Stay out of the box and this series goes 5 games (with Hawks advancing), max.

    • http://whatisthebestadverb.wordpress.com/ I am not Chico Maki

      Really? You think? Every single one of our games this year, minus the one aberration, went down to the wire. What makes you think things will be different in the playoffs?

      • DesertHawk

        We still won 4 in a row, even with the wire… if it’s no different in the second season, we’ll win 4 in a row… with some overtimes.

  • Paul the Fossil

    As we wait for the next round to start I highly recommend the excellent Puck Daddy eulogy for ScumJr.:
    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/eulogy-remembering-2012-13-st-louis-blues-175345205.html

    • Joe Banks

      I loved it, however, I find any photoshop of a blues player in an Indianhead jersey deeply disturbing…

  • nextgame

    I’m more worried about the possibility of being beaten from behind the bench than from on the bench.
    Fucking with the lines, and starting to play with guy’s heads in practice feels like the first throbbings of Q’s big brain syndrome kicking in, and this worries me more than anything Detroit will throw at us on the ice.
    As much as I hate the fucker, Babcock is one of the best. And I get the feeling Q will be thinking he has to out coach him. This, methinks, could be disastrous.
    Let’s hope he resists the urge to don his lab coat and start concocting magic line potions, and sticks to the reserved manner with which he’s handled the roster all year long.

    • Waylon

      Don’t you think by this time that Q already has a pretty good idea how to coach against Babs? I mean, come on.

      • nextgame

        That Q doesn’t know how to coach against Babcock, or is an inferior coach to him, is not my concern, or the point being made.

    • http://whatisthebestadverb.wordpress.com/ I am not Chico Maki

      If Babcock and Q sat down for a game of chess, I suspect you might be right, Babcock would walk away the victor. Luckily, there’s more to it than that.

  • laaarmer

    Faceoffs (even though we learned earlier in the season they don’t matter)
    Koivu 52.6%.
    Getzlaf 33%.
    Bonino 55.6%
    Steckel 54.3%
    So, you see it was Getzlaf.
    Hawks will be fine. Sharp will need to take the draws for Bolland. Handzus needs to win his or he will be watching

    • Z-man19

      Look at laaarms getting all statsy on us

      • roadhog

        I’m getting some Jules Winnfield in that Zman reply. You sendin’ the wolf?

  • jhb

    On a side note, good job/good luck to Mac Carruth and the Portland Winterhawks for winning the WHL title and have a spot in the Memorial Cup. Great opportunity for Mac!

    • raditzzzz

      glad he finally got his name on that cup. i think it had eluded him in a few other post season appearances before.

      • Joe Banks

        So tell me, goalieman, what do YOU think of Mr. Mac?

  • 334Rules

    Reading this, I was struck by the fact that we won’t see these guys nearly as much anymore, so added this ditty to the Forum section: http://thecommittedindian.com/forums/topic/in-honor-of-a-historic-series-with-scum/

    • mightymikeD

      Brilliant. I’ma go mug an old lady for her hat, just so that I can raise it

  • Skags

    The Hawks swept them in the regular season. I’m having trouble coming up with ways the Wings can beat them 4 out of 7 games.

    Not saying it can’t be done, but I’m not seeing it. This was the best possible matchup available for our Men of Four Feathers and I feel that the violent market correction Fels predicted for our Captain is coming this round or never at all.

    Hawks in 5.

  • Sparky_The_Barbarian

    My boss is a scum fan. His fear is the the Toews line and Dats line cancel each other out, leaving our second line with a slight advantage, and our third line running amok if left out against their bottom six.

    Yes, we swept these guys in the regular season, but in the words of Han the immortal Nerf Herder, “Don’t get cocky.” Three of the four games went to OT and two of those went to shootouts. We got the lucky bounces in the regular season. Don’t count on that in the playoffs.

    If we play our game and play it smart (i.e. stay out of the fucking box), we will be fine and advance in five or possibly six if Karma is against us.

    • roadhog

      Just keep bringing up Kane . . .

  • http://twitter.com/frictionjane Jane Doe

    Why is Stahls in danger of sitting game 1? There’s no way it’s for Car Bomb and Bollig, is it? Not against Detroit. Is Q thinking he can dial up that Ben Smith magic again?

    I didn’t think Stahlberg looked that bad against the Wild, and you would figure his speed would be an asset against Detroit. Maybe Q is just sending a message to him

    • roadhog

      While I don’t think Stahls sits out in game 1 . . . If he does the reason can be found here . . .

      Daylight turns into night
      We try and find the answer but it’s nowhere in sight
      It’s always the same and you know who’s to blame
      You know what I’m sayin’, still we keep on playin’ . . .

  • roadhog

    Is it me or are the Bruins really gooning it up tonight? Or is the answer to that question only variable in the off-season?

    • lizmcneill

      They are, ugh. Not exactly unexpected, sigh.

      • roadhog

        RU pulling for Boston?

        • lizmcneill

          Yeah, but they are doing their best to turn me with the goon stuff.

          • roadhog

            Need a quick one, there it is!

          • roadhog

            And another!

          • roadhog

            Holy Schnikes! Tied.

  • DesertHawk

    THERE IS NO H IN STALBERG!!!! /end rant

    • roadhog

      My bad, but Jane started it . . .

      • DesertHawk

        It’s a weird pet peeve of mine, and there’s been a lot of it today. No worries. :D Welcome… I think you’re new-ish. If you’re not, sorry I missed you and welcome any way :D

        • roadhog

          43yo life long Hawk fan. Grew up playing pond hockey in Downers Grove, and trying to do a spinorama like Savard. Live in Avalanche territory now. Newer poster, long time reader – CI Faithful.

          • DesertHawk

            I was born in Downers. Then promptly moved to Georgia. Stupid Army.

          • bizarrohairhelmet

            If the Army is anything, it is prompt,

    • laaarmer

      Stahlboig!

    • http://whatisthebestadverb.wordpress.com/ I am not Chico Maki

      Duh? Of course there’s no ‘h’ in Stalberg. There is in Stahlberg, though.