Lighthouse Hockey is an Islanders-focused site, but we have an annual tradition of polling our readers to pick each playoff series. No reason to dispense with this tradition just because the Islanders have put us in the suddenly unfamiliar position of watching playoff series that actually involve them.
I have to say, for a season that threw just 48 games and the increased chance of flukes at us, the first round of playoff draws sure are attractive.
Our beloved Islanders don't have much recent history with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the long view has three epic playoff series (and the Isles undefeated record in those is now on the line) as well as 2011's infamous Friday Fight Fest that stoked bad blood among the two fanbases.
Similarly, though the Leafs haven't been to the dance since two lockouts ago, there is plenty of history with fellow Original Six foe Boston.
Meanwhile, you have recent repeat matchups like New York vs. Washington, San Jose vs. Vancouver, Los Angeles vs. St. Louis, and Anaheim vs. Detroit, a very long-distance combo that has produced some great series over the years.
Maybe my hockey-crazed mind is just over-polluted by years and stories blurring over one another, but it surprises me to think Anaheim and Detroit last met back in 2009 -- the year the Wings lost to the Penguins in the finals after beating the Ducks in seven in the conference semis. Then again, when I recall that J.S. Giguere was key to their encounters that led to both Ducks finals appearances in 2003 and 2007, I should probably accept it's been a while, as that was two teams and a decline ago for Giguere.
Season Series: Detroit 2-1-0
NHL.com series page
|2.79 (8th)||GF||2.54 (20th)|
|2.40 (11th)||GA||2.29 (5th)|
|48.21 (21st)||Fen/Cl.||53.92 (5th)|
For what it's worth, Detroit beat the Ducks twice in a row in late March by a combined score of 7-2. The Red Wings squeaked into the playoffs in the final days after fighting in the bubble all season, while the Ducks got off to a near-Hawks-like start that made it a comfortable cruise into a playoff spot and a division title.
Both teams' penalty kills are quite strong, but Anaheim's bread and butter is its lethal powerplay, which produces shot after shot to make Bruce Boudreau one happy camper.
The Ducks are strong in net with Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth providing game-stealing options, but Jimmy Howard is an underrated (including by yours truly) goaltender capable of matching their performance.
As always, Detroit remains among the league's best possession teams while the Ducks are below average. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg remain a lethal one-two combination. But in a short series and with home ice advantage, the Ducks stars could get goals and powerplay conversions at the right time to bump off the Wings.
Here's the series schedule:
|Game||Date||Matchup||Time (ET)||National TV|
|Game 1||Tue, Apr 30||Red Wings at Ducks||10:30 p.m.||NBCSN, TSN|
|Game 2||Thu, May 2||Red Wings at Ducks||10 p.m.||NBCSN, TSN|
|Game 3||Sat, May 4||Ducks at Red Wings||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN, TSN|
|Game 4||Mon, May 6||Ducks at Red Wings||8 p.m.||CNBC, TSN|
|Game 5*||Wed, May 8||Red Wings at Ducks||10 p.m.||TSN|
|Game 6*||Fri, May 10||Ducks at Red Wings||TBD||TSN|
|Game 7*||Sun, May 12||Red Wings at Ducks||TBD||TSN|
Should be entertaining. This is Boudreau's first return to the playoffs since being fired by the Capitals. Behind the bench and on the front lines, I'm looking forward to how this one plays out.