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Posted On Sunday, 05.26.2013 / 5:44 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

'Kid line' needs to be better for Red Wings in Game 6

DETROIT -- The breakout stars for the Detroit Red Wings in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs hit a bump in the road Saturday night.

Detroit’s “kid line” -- Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist and Damien Brunner -- had given the Red Wings a definitive spark late in a first-round series against the Anaheim Ducks and were a huge reason why they won three of four to start the Western Conference Semifinals against the rival Chicago Blackhawks.

Their work in Game 5 did not measure up to the first four contests.

“They weren't very good last night and they've been pretty good through the playoffs,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said Sunday. “Is that part of it? Hindsight is a real good thing. Did we all want the puck all the time? No.”

Brunner has four goals, which ties him for the team lead with Daniel Cleary and Johan Franzen, and eight points, which ties him for second with Cleary and Pavel Datsyuk. Nyquist and Andersson both have four points each, and Nyquist has a pair of big goals. He and Brunner have two of the team’s three overtime tallies.

Posted On Saturday, 05.25.2013 / 3:13 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Desperate Hawks set to unite top guns on one line

CHICAGO -- Near the end of Game 4 with his club desperate for a goal, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville had Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp each on different lines.

After three straight contests where offense was a problem for the Blackhawks, Quenneville may put them all together at the start of Game 5 on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).

Sharp and Kane were on Toews' flanks when the Blackhawks went through line rushes at the morning skate inside United Center. Chicago needs a win against the Detroit Red Wings, or their rivals to the Southeast are going to claim this Western Conference Semifinals series in shocking fashion.

"They've played together in the past, and they've taken some shifts together [recently] here and there," Quenneville said. "I think they like playing with one another and we'll see how it goes."

Posted On Saturday, 05.25.2013 / 2:40 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Red Wings wary of Blackhawks' stretch passes

CHICAGO -- The Detroit Red Wings have done a commendable job of not allowing the Chicago Blackhawks to possess the puck through the neutral zone in the Western Conference Semifinals.

That has forced Chicago to look for a Plan B to ignite its offense, and one particular tactic the Blackhawks like is a long pass through the zone to a forward waiting near the Detroit blue line. Other teams might just be trying to find a forward to deflect the pass into the offensive end to start the forecheck, but the Blackhawks are looking to connect on that pass and spring one of their skilled forwards on a breakaway or an odd-man rush.

Detroit defenseman Kyle Quincey called these passes haymakers earlier in the series, and it fits -- if chipping the puck in and starting a cycle is the equivalent of a series of jabs to work the body, the Blackhawks are looking to throw a knockout punch.

"They're trying to get behind us with those long passes and stretch us out," Quincey said Saturday morning at United Center before Game 5 of a series the Red Wings lead 3-1. "They're making us skate with them. That's their skill set and we have to match it. It is tough. It is a lot of skating."

Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 8:28 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Depth defensemen making difference for Detroit

CHICAGO -- When the Detroit Red Wings lost seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement after the 2011-12 season, the impact seemed obvious.

But Detroit also began the 2012-13 campaign without steady veteran Brad Stuart, who was traded to the San Jose Sharks just before he was set to become an unrestricted free agent this past summer.

It left two huge holes in the Red Wings defense corps, and Plan A for helping to fill the void, free agent Ryan Suter, ended up with the Minnesota Wild instead.

The Red Wings regrouped, and over the course of this season there has been a youth movement afoot on the team’s back end. Veterans Carlo Colaiacovo and Kent Huskins were signed to offer depth, but it was clear some young defensemen would get a chance to play.

Niklas Kronwall moved up the depth chart and embraced being the team’s new No. 1. Jonathan Ericsson has proven to be a solid partner for him.

A huge reason the Red Wings can eliminate the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Saturday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS) has been the play of the blue line after the all-Swede top pairing.

Posted On Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 1:01 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Blackhawks have positive mindset for Game 4

DETROIT -- Patrick Kane described the mood in the Chicago Blackhawks dressing room as light the morning of Game 4 in the Western Conference Semifinals. Captain Jonathan Toews said it is a happy group.

These quotes wouldn't seem very newsworthy throughout most of the 2012-13 season, considering the way the Blackhawks rolled to the Presidents' Trophy and into the second round of the postseason. But the Blackhawks now are behind the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in this best-of-7 Western Conference Semifinal series, and there was plenty of attention Thursday morning paid to how the Blackhawks would handle the situation.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville switched rookie Brandon Saad and veteran Patrick Sharp on the top two forward lines during Game 3 at Joe Louis Arena, and though Quenneville didn't confirm it, all indications have been that is how the lineup will start for the Blackhawks in Game 4 Thursday night (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Posted On Wednesday, 05.22.2013 / 2:51 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Season might not be over for Red Wings' DeKeyser

DETROIT -- When Danny DeKeyser learned he had a broken thumb after Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said the rookie defenseman was done for the remainder of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Well, that might not end up being accurate.

DeKeyser's thumb is healing faster than expected, and the surprising Red Wings keep winning. DeKeyser was set to meet with a team doctor Wednesday after practice at Joe Louis Arena, and his expectation was the hard cast that was protecting his thumb, hand, wrist and part of his forearm was coming off.

"I'm pretty sure," DeKeyser said. "The doc said last week that it looked good and when I saw him [Wednesday] he was going to make a decision on whether it was going to come off but he was pretty sure it was going to be."

The Red Wings will face the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). It will be three weeks to the day of DeKeyser's injury.

Posted On Monday, 05.20.2013 / 2:51 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Brunner proud of Swiss countrymates' silver medal

DETROIT -- A day after Detroit Red Wings forward Damien Brunner said he was looking forward to "collecting some cash" from his Swedish teammates, the Swiss native was no wealthier Monday, but still beamed with pride.

His native country did not pull off a shocking upset in the final of the 2013 IIHF World Championships -- Sweden defeated Switzerland 5-1 -- but the silver medal remains an incredible accomplishment for a burgeoning hockey power.

"Switzerland had a great start. [Roman] Josi scored a really nice goal to get Switzerland up, but then it was kind of bad luck, I think," Brunner said. "We were all over them and then Sweden scored on the first three or four shots two goals. It was kind of unlucky. After that I thought Sweden controlled the goal pretty good. At the end of day, Sweden looked a little bit fresher in this final."

Posted On Monday, 05.20.2013 / 1:19 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Stalberg, Handzus both in Blackhawks' Game 3 lineup

DETROIT -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville confirmed Viktor Stalberg will return to the lineup for Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS), and center Michael Handzus will play, but the forward lines could look a little different than they have in the first two games of the series.

Stalberg skated on a line with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell during the morning skate Monday at Joe Louis Arena. If that happens, Dave Bolland likely will return to the second line -- where he also spent a good chunk of the regular season -- which would leave Handzus to play on the fourth line. Quenneville did not confirm that Daniel Carcillo is the odd-man out up front, but based on the morning skate he appears to be.

"We all need to be better and we expect everybody to be much better," Quenneville said. "It is across the board. We need more predictability in our game and we need to better in certain areas of the ice."

Posted On Saturday, 05.18.2013 / 12:59 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Miller replaces Bertuzzi in Red Wings' lineup

CHICAGO -- Drew Miller will return to the lineup for the Detroit Red Wings in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday at United Center (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).

Miller has not played since April 20 against the Vancouver Canucks because of a broken finger. He had four goals and eight points in 44 games for the Red Wings this season.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock has tinkered with his fourth line on several occasions in this postseason. Patrick Eaves and Cory Emmerton each has sat once, but the third spot has been a bit of a rotation. Todd Bertuzzi, who has no points in the postseason, will sit for the third time.

Here are the projected lineups for the Blackhawks and Red Wings:

Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 3:02 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Keith, Handzus said to be 'fine' after missing practice

CHICAGO -- Defenseman Duncan Keith and center Michal Handzus did not participate in practice Friday for the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center, but coach Joel Quenneville said both are fine.

Handzus has now skipped the past three on-ice workouts for the Blackhawks. Quenneville was asked if he is nursing a minor injury he can play through.

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said.

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— Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, who on Wednesday became the ninth Russian-born player, and ninth Red Wings player, to score 300 NHL goals
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