The Detroit Red Wings’ reward for clinching a crucial Game 7 victory over the Anaheim Ducks will be final chance to come up against long-time rivals the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference playoffs.
With NHL realignment sending the Red Wings to the Eastern Conference next season, the series will mark the final time Detroit will meet the Blackhawks outside the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Red Wings secured their place in the second round of the playoffs with a thrilling 3-2 victory against the Ducks at the Honda Centre, while the Blackhawks cruised their way through the first round by seeing off the Minnesota Wild over five games.
Despite their impressive first round displays against the Ducks, Detroit will go into their second round series against the Blackhawks as significant underdogs. While the Red Wings (24-16-8) were finished seventh in the Western Conference to draw a first-round matchup with second-seeded Anaheim, Chicago were often unplayable on their way to the top of the NHL’s overall standings with a 36-7-5 record.
The Red Wings won’t be able to take much belief from the regular season head-to-head record against Chicago; losing all four games against their long-time foes, including a humbling 7-1 defeat at the end of March. It is little surprise therefore that NHL betting news previews over at bet365 tip them for defeat.
Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, however, has played down the importance of the regular season games has had on Detroit’s confidence ahead of the series, even if sports punters betting on NHL are putting their money elsewhere. He insists the Red Wings had been unfortunate not to finish some of those matches on the other side of the result.
“We should have won two of those. It felt like that anyways. We’ve got some wins here (in Anaheim) to take on these guys. We’re gonna play better. It’s going to be a fun series.”
“We had some of our better games against Chicago and we’ve been playing better at the end. It’s a big rivalry and everyone steps up for those big games. It’s going to be loud in both buildings, we know that.”