For a period of time, it looked like the staple of any Stanley Cup Playoff in the last two decades would be left off the invite list for this year’s party. The Detroit Red Wings struggled mightily out of the gate this year, missing retired defenseman Niklas Lidstrom more than anyone cared to predict or admit. However, over the course of the year, the veteran core that has led the Red Wings to past Stanley Cup Finals have relied on an infusion of young talent and the reliable goaltending of Jimmy Howard to get them back into the postseason.
The core – including Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Niklas Kronwall – still leads the team in most scoring categories and simply seemed to take a little longer to get going without its familiar blue-line leader in the soon to be Hall of Famer Lidstrom. Because their backs were put to the wall weeks ago with respect to even qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Red Wings have been in playoff do-or-die mode for longer than most teams and will post a significant challenge to their round one opponent, the Anaheim Ducks. Despite their midseason streak, the Ducks have been trailing behind the Chicago Blackhawks for the entire season but ahead of their division rival the Los Angeles Kings, so Anaheim hasn’t had the same kind of daily intensity. Therefore, the Red Wings could be poised to do far more than just show up for the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs; they could make a significant run, starting with the disposal of the Ducks.
The Red Wings went 2-1 versus the Anaheim Ducks in the 2013 NHL season and both wins came on the road. The Wings are hoping to get out to a hot start on the road and then improve their performance at home in the Joe Louis Arena.