The Red Wings are playing with house money.
There is no pressure. There are not huge expectations. They can just let loose and play care free against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference semifinals. The series begins Wednesday and Saturday night in Chicago beginning at 10 pm. Oh wait a minute! That is not true. They will play at a normal time. The West coast late night stuff is a thing of the past. Good riddance.
Games Three and Four are at Joe Louis next Monday and Wednesday.
The Wings beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 Sunday night to win the opening-round series in seven games.
This is the series I wanted to see from jump street. The Blackhawks are the elite team in the Western Conference and this is a great measuring stick for the Wings. There are a bunch of young guys on this roster that learned to play pressure hockey on the road and finish off must win games at home. Now the heat turns up another notch which is good.
The Wings might not survive this but they are sure to gain valuable experience for the future. I do not expect the Wings to pass this test, losing to the Blackhawks in six games. This is not about making a Stanley Cup run this year. It is positioning yourself to make runs in the future.
However, here is the great thing about hockey playoffs. They are filled with the “you just never know” factor. Sure, it is possible for the Wings to win. The regular season games were all close expect for one Blackhawks blow out. So there is always hope when a series begins. The thing I know is the young guys will be better when it is done and they will be battle tested for the future.