Deep Blackhawks present challenge for Red Wings' D - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Deep Blackhawks present challenge for Red Wings' D

Posted: Updated:
Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader
CHICAGO (AP) -

The top of the list includes Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. Patrick Sharp is coming off another great playoff series, and Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland have come up with big postseason goals in the past.

The Chicago Blackhawks have waves of talented lines, making them a difficult matchup for any team. Months after Nicklas Lidstrom retired, they pose quite the challenge for the Detroit Red Wings.

When one of the NHL's biggest rivalries resumes in the playoffs on Wednesday night, there will be a lot of talk about the play of goalies Corey Crawford of Chicago and Jimmy Howard of Detroit. The Blackhawks are going to have to find a way to shut down the Detroit trio of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen.

But Chicago's deep group of forwards against Detroit's refurbished defense could go a long way to deciding the 16th  postseason series between the proud Original Six franchises.

"There's going to be a test there for them," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We just try to keep making progress. We've had good growth on our team all year long and it has to continue to happen."

Detroit lost decades of experience when Lidstrom announced his retirement a year ago. The seven-time Norris Trophy winner helped the Red Wings to four Stanley Cups and is among the best defensemen to ever play the game.

Lidstrom's absence left a giant hole in front of Howard, but Detroit then decided to trade Brad Stuart to San Jose in June because he made it clear that he wanted to be closer to his family. Down Lidstrom and Stuart, the Red Wings had to rely on a mix of young and unproven defensemen to provide key minutes.

Due in part to the evolving lines in the back, Detroit's annual appearance in the playoffs was in jeopardy until it won the last four games of the regular season to secure the seventh spot in the West and extend the longest active postseason streak in major professional sports to 22 straight seasons.

"They got better as the season went on, and they got better as the playoffs went on," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "They always play a really responsible team game and I think their whole team game helps their defense as well."

While the Red Wings squeaked past the Ducks in the first round of the postseason, Chicago rolled over Minnesota in five games. Eight players had at least one goal and 15 recorded at least one point as the Blackhawks outscored the Wild 17-7, including an 8-1 margin over the final two nights.

It was a continuation of the regular season for Chicago, which finished second to Pittsburgh with 149 goals while rolling to the Presidents' Trophy and home-ice advantage for as long as it's around in the NHL playoffs.

"I think we know it's going to be a tough series," Zetterberg said. "They played well all regular season. They took care of Minnesota pretty quick and they've been resting for a few days. It's going to be a challenge for us, for sure, but the same way, if we play the way we want and do all the little things right, we have a chance."

The series opener against Detroit will be the first game for Chicago since it closed out Minnesota with a 5-1 victory on Thursday. The Blackhawks used all that time to rest, but it also allowed Quenneville to take a look at a couple different line combinations -- providing even more material for Detroit to consider.

Bolland is healthy again after he missed the first-round series with a lower-body injury, and he is expected to center Chicago's third line. Quenneville also said Michal Handzus is fine after he missed two days of practice. Viktor Stalberg, one of the fastest skaters on the team, has been working outside of the top four lines in practice, so his role against Detroit is up in the air.

"I really don't have anything to say about it," Stalberg said. "Ask Q."

Asked about what Stalberg can do to get back in the lineup, Quenneville responded: "Stay ready, stay ready. Nobody said he's out of the lineup, but keep yourself, make decisions tough on us."

Stalberg had nine goals and 14 assists in 47 games this season, then had a big assist and a plus-2 rating while playing all five games in the first round against Minnesota. It's quite a luxury for Quenneville to consider leaving him off the top four lines, but such is life for the Blackhawks this season.

It's also quite the problem for Detroit.

"It should be a fun series," said Kane, who led the team with 55 points this season. "We're really looking forward to the challenge."

------
AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Romulus, Mich., contributed to this report.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Two arrested after federal agent shootout in Highland Park

    Two arrested after federal agent shootout in Highland Park

    Friday, August 1 2014 8:38 PM EDT2014-08-02 00:38:26 GMT
    In what started as a traffic stop, resulted in a shootout between federal agents and a pair of men known to have illegal assault rifles in Highland Park.Police say a task force of ATF and FBI agents who had previously set up a meet with two men, known to have AK-47s and AR-15s in their Chevrolet Cavalier, began to move in. The traffic stop was made near Oakland and Victor about 7:30 p.m. Friday. The car rammed the federal agents vehicle and the driver opened fire with a handgun. The agents re...
    In what started as a traffic stop, resulted in a shootout between federal agents and a pair of men known to have illegal assault rifles in Highland Park.Police say a task force of ATF and FBI agents who had previously set up a meet with two men, known to have AK-47s and AR-15s in their Chevrolet Cavalier, began to move in. The traffic stop was made near Oakland and Victor about 7:30 p.m. Friday. The car rammed the federal agents vehicle and the driver opened fire with a handgun. The agents re...
  • New DTE app lets users check their energy use

    New DTE app lets users check their energy use

    Friday, August 1 2014 7:59 PM EDT2014-08-01 23:59:24 GMT
    Joel Miller, a senior strategist with DTE Energy, gave us some insight -- on DTE insight. The new, free smart phone app helps customers see their energy use hour by hour -- or minute by minute."By studying your data and by looking around your home you can discover what things are using energy," Miller said. Then, you make choices -- replace appliances or physically turn off whatever's not needed -- or is wasting energy, and save money on your energy bill in the process."I think for a lot of u...
    Joel Miller, a senior strategist with DTE Energy, gave us some insight -- on DTE insight. The new, free smart phone app helps customers see their energy use hour by hour -- or minute by minute."By studying your data and by looking around your home you can discover what things are using energy," Miller said. Then, you make choices -- replace appliances or physically turn off whatever's not needed -- or is wasting energy, and save money on your energy bill in the process."I think for a lot of u...
  • Backyard Bliss: The Brown family's backyard

    Backyard Bliss: The Brown family's backyard

    Friday, August 1 2014 7:07 PM EDT2014-08-01 23:07:48 GMT
    Living is easy in the summertime, and some of the very best times are often found right in our own backyard.
    Living is easy in the summertime, and some of the very best times are often found right in our own backyard.
Powered by WorldNow

KSAZ-TV & KUTP
511 W. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Phone: (602) 257-1234
Fax: (602) 262-0177

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices