This has been a fantastic run so far in these Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Detroit Red Wings. They knocked off the no. 2 seed in the Western Conference and now hold a three games to two edge against the top seeded Chicago Blackhawks, with Game 6 set to take place at Joe Louis Arena.
However, even though they’ve looked extremely impressive to this point, there are still questions surrounding this club. And it’s many of the same questions that have swirled around them throughout the entire season. Those questions relate most specifically to the blue line.
The question for the Wings is whether or not that this defensive corps can hold up against the Blackhawks for another game or two in this series. They’ve been saved quite a bit by the play of Jimmy Howard in this series. That’s not to say that they haven’t looked better than advertised, because they have.
Detroit’s blue line has closed down the middle of the ice and taken away the stretch pass, which has limited the Chicago offense. They weren’t able to do so in Game 5, which was a huge win for the Hawks, who were fighting to stay alive. The forwards imposed their will on this defensive unit, and the possession numbers show it, as they have this series.
While the defense was impressive in the middle three games of this series to this point, we’ve seen plenty that would indicate that Chicago’s offense is about to break wide open. They were unable to get the puck out of their own zone in Game 5, which led to a couple of power play goals for an awful Blackhawks unit.
Don’t forget, this is a group that ices Kyle Quincey and Carlo Colaiacovo on a nightly basis. And while Brendan Smith might have a bright future, he’s been a bit inconsistent in this series as well. Detroit has the upper hand in this series right now, sure, but it’s far from over, especially when you consider the matchup in regard to the Red Wings’ defensive depth.