Blackhawks v Red Wings: Semifinals Game 1
CHI v DET- Preview
Round 2- Game 1
The Chicago Blackhawks went undefeated (4-0-0) in their regular season match-ups with the Detroit Red Wings, but none of that matters going into this second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Hawks and Wings fans have to be more than excited to have the opportunity to watch a heated playoff rivalry series one last time before these division rivals are separated with the NHL realignment next season.
The Blackhawks left their mark on the Red Wings this season, defeating the Detroit team in three one-point games and one 7-1 blowout win. With the exception of that extra trouncing, fans can expect to see games similar to the intense one-point matches taken into extra time this series.
The Blackhawks won their opening series over the Minnesota Wild with relative ease in five games, but it is clear in the practices following their victory that head coach Joel Quenneville is looking for more from his players. While Dave Bolland and Ray Emery are healthy and back in the mix for the Hawks, Viktor Stalberg is questionable for Game 1. Stalberg has been practicing outside of the top four lines, and it is unclear if Coach Q is just trying to send a message to the right wing, or if number 25 is actually in the doghouse.
The number seven-seeded Red Wings took their play to another level to defeat the number two-seeded Anaheim Ducks in seven games. This is not the first time Detroit will meet Chicago in the post season, but it is one of the rare times they will face them as the underdog.
The biggest challenge for the Wings coming into this series is keeping their game together against the offensively talented Blackhawks. Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard is fighting through a hamstring injury entering Game 1, which could become more of an issue for the Red Wings as the series progresses.
The puck drops at 7:00pm CST tonight in the United Center for game one of the semifinals.