COMMENTARY | The Detroit Red Wings were in unfamiliar territory this year as they needed the last game of the regular season to determine whether or not they would make the playoffs for the 22nd consecutive season.
They clinched a spot as the No. 7 seed, and will face the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Despite the huge gap between these two teams in the standings, the Red Wings have a few of factors going in their favor for this matchup, which is why I think they will win this series.
Red Wings playing their best hockey
The Red Wings won their past four games to sneak into the playoffs as a No. 7 seed. These last four games were essentially playoff games for the Red Wings, and the team delivered when it needed to.
The offense picked up the pace as well as they scored 15 goals in those final four games. Pavel Datsyuk (two goals, six assists), Henrik Zetterberg (2, 8) and Johan Franzen (4, 1) led the way offensively during that four-game winning streak.
When this team is firing on all cylinders, it is a dangerous team. Playoff hockey is about peaking at the right time, and the Red Wings certainly are playing the best they have all season.
Bruce Boudreau's Teams Falter in Playoffs
Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau always has dominant teams when it comes to the regular season. In each of his four full seasons as the coach of the Washington Capitals, the team won the Southeast division. However, Boudreau and the Capitals never made it past the Eastern Conference semifinals in any of those years.
His teams know how to win in the regular season, but struggle to make the adjustments necessary when playing the same team four to seven times in one series.
However, the one thing he didn't have in Washington was solid goaltending. Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller have split time in net and helped the Ducks rise in the standings. But these goalies lack playoff experience as Fasth hasn't seen the postseason, and Hiller played just 13 games in 2009.
I think this year will be no different for Boudreau. He has better goaltending this time around, but the lack of playoff experience for the goalies will hurt the Ducks.
Red Wings won regular season series
The Red Wings played the Ducks three times this season and won the series 2-1, including winning back-to-back games in Anaheim.
Obviously, how a team does in the regular season isn't indicative of how they will do in the playoffs, but the Red Wings showed they are capable of not only beating this team, but beating them on the road.
The travel to the West coast isn't going to do the Red Wings any favors, but a West coast trip almost is guaranteed when you are one of two Western Conference teams in the Eastern time zone.
Anaheim is a quality team with some good goaltending, but I think Boudreau will have another disappointing playoff run.
Prediction: Red Wings win series 4-2
Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who covers the Detroit Red Wings for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He also is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can find Tom on Twitter @tom_mitsos.
- Sports & Recreation
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- Detroit Red Wings
- Anaheim Ducks
- Bruce Boudreau