It's an exciting night in Detroit as @ 7:00 the Detroit Red Wings will begin the 2007 Playoffs as the puck drops for Game One of their first round series with the Calgary Flames. While the Wings regular season has become almost like an afterthought for me and a lot of other Wings fans (No matter how much the experts think the Wings may struggle during the regular season, they always seem to end up with the #1 seed in the Western Conference, as they did this year, which is one of the reasons I alwaysfeel comfortable not devoting my full attention to the Wings during the regular season) the playoffs are an entirely different matter. There is just something special about the NHL Playoffs and I can't wait for tonight's game.
As I wrote earlier in the week, I think the Wings will beat the Flames in six games after a very tough series. The Flames have a lot of talent, a good goalie who shut the Wings down the last time these teams met in the post-season (in 2003) and the Wings have problems of their own. As they always seem to be this time of year (and as I guess most teams are) they are not fully healthy. And while the Detroit News reports that Henrik Zetterberg will play tonight for the first time in weeks, Todd Bertuzzi will not, and that's going to hurt.
Bertuzzi's concussion hasn't allowed him to play for three straight games (he also missed Saturday's regular-season finale) and coach Mike Babcock didn't think Bertuzzi would be ready to play tonight's Game 1 of the playoffs against Calgary.
"I don't think he has any chance of playing," Babcock said.
Bertuzzi likely is out, but forward Henrik Zetterberg definitely is in.
Zetterberg has been out since Feb. 26, when an inflamed herniated disc forced him out of practice, and ultimately, for the rest of the regular season.
Zetterberg will skate on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom , one of the most productive lines in the league around midseason.
Zetterberg's return is critical, especially with Bertuzzi out. Pavel Datsyuk cannot carry the offensive load himself, and with the Wings having a history of not scoring goals in the post-season, not having Zetterberg likely would have made the series impossible to win. The Wings, though, will have to hope that Bertuzzi is able to play soon. In the limited amount of games he has played for Detroit since being traded here, he has shown why he is so valuable, adding both grit and toughness while being a powerful force in the offense zone of Wings' opponents.
Other Detroit Red Wing bloggers have also weighed in on tonight's game and the series with the Flames. Christy over at Beyond the Jersey agrees with me, and says the Wings will win in six games. Dave @ Gorilla Grouch has a great in-depth preview of the series, and he thinks the Wings will take it in seven. And Matt of On The Wings thinks the Wings will have an easier time, his analysis says the Wings will win in 5. Lots of confident bloggers, and even with the injuries, probably with good reason.
I'll be back tonight with some post game thoughts (and who am I kidding, I'll probably be back posting before then too, but maybe not) but before ago, I mentioned over the weekend that the great, hilarious, and classic 1990's computer trivia game You Don't Know Jack is back, with a new home and new games on the internet. And with the Wings starting their series with the Flames tonight, the site has a special hockey themed edition of their famous (or infamous depending on your point of view) "Dis or Dat." I've embedded the flash game below (feel free to post your score in the comments if you'd like). Enjoy and enjoy tonight's game.