suntimes
CALM 
Weather Updates

Three keys to Blackhawks-Red Wings series

Dynamic duo

Noteworthy: While the Red Wings don’t have the sheer volume of talent they used to, they still boast two of the top two-way players in the world in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg (below). And they’re both hot at the right time: Zetterberg had seven points in the last three games against the Anaheim Ducks, and Datsyuk has 15 points in his last 10 games.

Hawks defensemen Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson stymied the Minnesota Wild’s top line in the first round, but they will have their hands full with the Red Wings. Complicating matters is the fact that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock split up his two stars in Game 7 against the Ducks, creating two good lines
instead of one great one.

Quoteworthy: ‘‘I think you just want to try to get on them quick and not give them any time and space,’’ Keith said. ‘‘It’s easier said than done. They’re smart players, and they’re able to find space out there. It’s a tough challenge. It’s always been that way against them.’’

Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: June 16, 2013 6:32AM



The core group of Blackhawks has accomplished just about everything, except for defeating the Detroit Red Wings — the franchise upon which the team was modeled — in the playoffs. The Red Wings beat the Hawks in five games in the Western Conference finals in 2009. It was a series that served as a valuable learning experience for the Hawks’ run to the Stanley Cup in 2010.

Four years later, the Hawks get another crack at the Wings — and for the last time as conference foes. It’s one last hurdle for the Hawks to clear. And it won’t be easy.

‘‘It’d be nice to get a little redemption there and prove we can beat them in a seven-game series,’’ winger Patrick Kane said.

Here are three keys to doing just that:

Dynamic duo

Noteworthy: While the Red Wings don’t have the sheer volume of talent they used to, they still boast two of the top two-way players in the world in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg (below). And they’re both hot at the right time: Zetterberg had seven points in the last three games against the Anaheim Ducks, and Datsyuk has 15 points in his last 10 games.

Hawks defensemen Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson stymied the Minnesota Wild’s top line in the first round, but they will have their hands full with the Red Wings. Complicating matters is the fact that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock split up his two stars in Game 7 against the Ducks, creating two good lines
instead of one great one.

Quoteworthy: ‘‘I think you just want to try to get on them quick and not give them any time and space,’’ Keith said. ‘‘It’s easier said than done. They’re smart players, and they’re able to find space out there. It’s a tough challenge. It’s always been that way against them.’’

‘Rat’ attack

Noteworthy: Center Dave Bolland (below) missed the entire first round with a groin injury. He’ll be back for Game 1, but will he be back to his old self? ‘‘The Rat’’ has made his name in the playoffs as an irascible checking-line irritant, getting into opponents’ heads and under their skin as he smothers them defensively and draws penalties. He spent most of the regular season as the second-line center, but his particular set of skills never really fit that role.

Now he’s back home on the third line, centering Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw (for now). Bolland was disappointed with his season — both with his play and the injuries that plagued him — but takes pride in his knack for coming up big when it matters most. And a motivated Bolland is just what the Hawks need.

Quoteworthy: ‘‘He’s been a big
performer in the playoffs in years past, and he’s a big part of the lineup no matter where he plays,’’ winger Patrick Kane said. ‘‘He’s pretty gritty and kind of chippy in these series in the playoffs.’’

Youth is served

Noteworthy: The idea that the Red Wings have a ‘‘young’’ defensive corps is something of a myth. Sure, Nicklas Lidstrom isn’t there anymore, but with Danny DeKeyser out for the playoffs with a broken thumb, only second-year player Brendan Smith is young and inexperienced. Where the Red Wings are young is on their third line, with second-year Joakim Andersson centering second-year Gustav Nyquist and rookie Damien Brunner (below). And while that line really came into its own during the series against the Ducks — Brunner had two goals and three assists — the veteran Hawks will put them to the test in a series that figures to be even more intense.

Quoteworthy: ‘‘Every game, you have to be ready,’’ Nyquist told the Detroit Free Press. ‘‘Because if you’re not ready mentally, you’re not going to play well. So to be tough mentally is something you learn up here.’’

Lazerus prediction: Blackhawks in 6.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.