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NHL Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings Must Take Advantage Of Chance To Take 3-1 Series Lead

Detroit Red Wings Howard Playoffs

Rick Osentoski – USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Red Wings have the Chicago Blackhawks‘ full attention after taking a 2-1 series lead, and have a great chance to increase that lead on home ice on Thursday night. After three days off, the Red Wings have had a chance to work on a few of their weak spots from the first three games, and will try to come out strong in front of their home crowd.

One of the keys to Detroit’s success in the past two games has been the great play of goaltender Jimmy Howard. Since allowing four goals in the first game of the series, Howard has only allowed two goals on the 60 shots he has faced in games two and three. A solid penalty kill has made things easy in front of Howard, who made 39 saves Monday night. A defense corps that had an up-and-down season has stepped up in the postseason, and their continued strong play is another key to the series. Henrik Zetterberg has done a fantastic job of shutting down Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews so far, and coach Mike Babcock will look to continue to take full advantage of that match-up on home ice.

One area the Red Wings must improve on is their power play, which has yet to see any success against the Blackhawks. They have had 12 chances against the Blackhawks, and finding a way to break through with the man-advantage can only increase their chances of success. The Red Wings have thrown 30 shots at Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford in each of the last two games, and they need to keep that trend going. Third and fourth line scoring has been clutch in the past two games as well, and the Red Wings will be in good shape if players like Drew Miller, Damien Brunner and Gustav Nyquist continue to step up. Heading back to Chicago with a 3-1 lead would put the Red Wings in great shape to pull off a second straight playoff series upset

Jonathan Katje is an NHL senior writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or add him to your circles on Google Plus.