May 12, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) celebrates the 3-2 victory against the Anaheim Ducks following game seven of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Can’t Have Ducks Without Wings: Detroit Red Wings: 3 – Anaheim Ducks: 2


Considering the past twenty-two years, who would’ve thought the Red Wings winning the Western Conference Quarterfinals in seven games would have been a feel good story?

This past season has been full of hurdles and obstacles that the team has somehow found a way to jump over and get around time and time again to keep the franchise’s winning tradition alive. Let’s take a look at a few of those:

- Losing Lidstrom

- Season-long (or close) injuries to Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson, and Carlo Colaiacovo

- An all-rookie third line, as well as two rookie defensemen (Brendan Smith and Danny DeKeyser) given top four defensive minutes on a regular basis.

- Streaky play from key players like Dan Cleary, Johan Franzen (no surprise there) and even Henrik Zetterberg. Oh, and the complete disappearance of Valtteri Filppula. Although I have to say, he played decently tonight. Decently.

This was a team that everyone had pinned to miss the playoffs, and, when that was proven false, to lose to Anaheim handily in the first round. And they proved everyone wrong. This gives me hope for the upcoming series against Chicago – Detroit continues to defy their detractors and critics with better play and results…hopefully this is a trend that continues into the next series.

Ahhhhhhhhh. Anyway, onto the game itself…

Sunday night saw a raucous Anaheim home crowd silenced almost immediately by the strong play from Detroit coming out of the gate. Less than two minutes into the first period, Henrik Zetterberg opened the scoring with assists from Jakub Kindl and Valtteri Filppula. Filppula, after making what may have been the worst play of his career with a giveaway that led to an Emerson Etem goal in game six, looked revitalized next to Zetterberg, and separating the Euro twins seemed to confuse the Ducks and seriously mess with coach Bruce Boudreau’s ability to create strong matchups.  They’re still a strong team however, and it only took them a few minutes to adjust before pressure was coming just as hard in the other direction. Anaheim tied the score twelve minutes later off a beautiful shot by Emerson Etem – he’s really starting to show flashes of the player the Ducks hoped he would become when they drafted him 29th overall in 2010. Justin Abdelkader seemed to take personal offense to that, however, and put the Wings back ahead less than three minutes later with a beautiful takeaway turned breakaway. Datsyuk must really be starting to rub off on Abby…I’d like to apologize again for my lack of faith in that combination earlier in the season. Because…wow.

The second period saw good back and forth hockey with chances for both teams, however  Detroit clearly drove possession and outplayed the opposition. They were rewarded for it with a goal off the backhand of Valtteri Filppula, though much of the credit should go to Zetterberg and Cleary, who teamed up with a beautiful passing play. It’s strange to think that two-thirds of that line might not be in Detroit next season…

The game *should have* ended up 3-1, but Anaheim was able to take advantage of another gift goal (cough-game six-cough) that took an unfortunate bounce off the skate of Jonathan Ericsson to put the score within one. Detroit controlled a majority of the period in a very obvious way, however, and despite a last minute push by the Ducks, the Red Wings came out of the game with a win and a berth in the second round.

Next up are the Blackhawks…yay?

As always, thanks for reading. Go Wings!!!

Follow me on twitter pleasepleaseplease: @dzkefalas

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