They’re still the Detroit Red Wings.
Goals by Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader and Valtteri Filpula led to a 3-2 victory for Detroit in Game 7 of the Western Conference quarterfinals, eliminating the No. 2-seeded Anaheim Ducks with two straight wins.
The Wings draw the Chicago Blackhawks in Round 2, in the final meeting between the teams as division rivals. The Blackhawks have won seven straight games over Detroit.
Credit this Detroit series win to three people ...
Henrik Zetterberg, the first-year captain, who had a goal and an assist in Game 7 (along with a regrettable puck over the glass penalty in the third). That’s three goals and five assists for the series, and a game-winning overtime goal in Game 6.
Jimmy Howard, the goaltender, who wasn’t perfect but was really strong when they needed him. He faced over 30 shots in five of the seven games. He faced 70 shots and stopped 65 of them in the final two games of the series. He had to be good behind a young defense. He had to be composed with Corey Perry trying to piss him off for seven games. He did it all.
Mike Babcock, the coach, who shuffled his lines and defense like the best dealer in Vegas. Watching Game 7, the controlled and constricting Wings system kept the Ducks from setting up shot in the offensive zone, with Babcock at the reins. Another brilliant bit of coaching by a coach that never gets enough credit for that brilliance.
For the Ducks … well, the best that can be said is that no one expected them to be a No. 2 seed. Full marks to Bruce Boudreau for that. But once again, a Boudreau team disappoints in the playoffs, and loses a Game 7 on home ice. He went into this series saying he didn’t want postseason disappointment to be his legacy. This didn’t help.
Corey Perry was stymied by Howard all series, but went seven games without a goal. If David Steckel has more goals in a seven-game series than Corey Perry, chances are the Ducks didn’t win that series.
Finally … Teemu. Hopefully this isn’t the end. Hopefully with Getzlaf and Perry back next season, he gives it another shot. Hopefully.