Tonight is the start of the Western Conference Finals. Two of the original six will match up at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, MI.
The Blackhawks are led by their teen sensations Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. These two have helped bring the Hawks back to life and battle through this amazing playoff season. The Hawks lost the amazing outdoor game against Detroit but it has been four months since that day and the Hawks have had major improvements. It will in the end be up to the Hawks defensmen to shut down the well executed offense of Detroit.
Detroit on the other hand is a well oiled machine. They won four of the six meetings these two teams had during the regular season including the win at Wrigley 6-4. The Wings can rely on players like Hossa, Franzen, Zetterberg and Cleary to push Hawks goaltender Khabibulin to the brink of his abilities.
Hear is the breakdown of the men between the pipes!
There's no bigger reason the Wings are one of four teams remaining and a threat to repeat for the second time in just over a decade than the re-emergence of Chris Osgood. A question mark to hold onto the starting job during the regular season, when he struggled mightily at times and was outplayed by veteran backup Ty Conklin, Osgood has instead shown why he's a three-time Cup champion with 456 combined regular-season and postseason wins to his credit. He's lowered his goals-against average by more than a goal per game (2.06 playoffs to 3.09 regular season) and dramatically improved his save percentage (.921 to .887). Most importantly, Osgood is back to making the must-have save at the critical moment.
When the Blackhawks need Nikolai Khabibulin to come up big, he's usually there to bail them out. Khabibulin hadn't beaten the Canucks in 11 years prior to the playoffs, but notched four in six meetings in the second round. There's no reason to think he can't keep it up. "The Bulin Wall" is 8-4 with a 2.76 goals-against average and .896 save percentage in 12 postseason starts.