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HOLY JUMPIN!: BREAKING DOWN HAWKS VS. WINGS

Monday, 05.18.2009 / 2:43 PM / Holy Jumpin! - a Blog by Darren Pang
By Darren Pang
I have had a really great experience again working the playoffs for TSN in Canada and for NBC in the United States. It has given me the competitive view on the strengths and weaknesses of the clubs that have advanced in their “Quest for the Cup.”

Here is my take on the Western Conference Finals between Detroit and Chicago.

The keys for Chicago:

• Stay out of the penalty box. The PP’s of both teams are incredible, Nos. 1 and 2 in the postseason. The Hawks got in the “kitchen” of both Calgary and Vancouver with their constant chirping after the whistle. Adam Burish vs. Jarome Iginla and Dustin Byfuglien vs Roberto Luongo are good examples in both series. Detroit won’t bite, let alone nibble on this tactic. Don’t waste energy.
Chicago's Patrick Sharp (left), Adam Burish (center) and Duncan Keith. (AP Photo/Jerry S. Mendoza).

• Challenge in the neutral zone. The key to Detroit is its entries into the offensive zone. The Hawks forwards are quick and they do a great job of “cutting the ice in half” as their weakside forward will attack the puck in the neutral zone.

• Composure in the defensive zone. The minute you don’t trust your partner in your own zone is the minute the Wings will spin you right round, baby right round…so stay composed and trust your position and teammates. No running around chasing pucks.

The keys for Detroit:

• Keep your foot on the pedal. The Hawks have been as good as the Hurricanes at coming back when the game seems done. They are a resilient group with great youthful enthusiasm and skill. If you have a lead, keep adding to it. Wayne Gretzky was the best ever at putting the dagger in as deep as it could go.

• Attack the Hawks “D.” The Wings have four lines that can go all the time, so the pressure has to be put on the Hawks “D.” Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith get pucks out of their own zone in a hurry and have great chemistry. Brian Campbell has defensive liabilities below his own goal line, but has been good as the playoffs have gone along.

Detroit's Johan Franzen. (AP Photo/Jerry S. Mendoza).
• Get four lines rolling early. The Hawks will use their four lines and they can all skate, so the pace will be furious. The Wings have the same depth, and have received added skill and speed in the likes of Darren Helm, Jiri Hudler and now Justin Abdelkader to go along with Kris Draper who returned for Game 7 vs Anaheim. The Wings have the advantage of playing Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk together, as they did when they lacked offense in the Anaheim series when it was tied 1-1.

Panger

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