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Ducks get postseason started by hosting Red Wings

by Adam Kimelman

RED WINGS (24-16-8) at DUCKS (30-12-6)


Last 10: Detroit 5-2-3; Anaheim 5-4-1

Season series: The Detroit Red Wings won two of three regular-season meetings, including a two-game sweep of back-to-back games in Anaheim in late March.

Big story: Can the Red Wings big closing kick carry into the Stanley Cup Playoffs? Or will the Anaheim Ducks rediscover the form that helped them get out to such a great start to the season?

Team Scope:

Red Wings: Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith and Danny DeKeyser will be skating in their first Stanley Cup Playoff games when the Red Wings start their first-round series against the Ducks. However, coach Mike Babcock isn't worried at all about his defense.

"We've really improved drastically in that area, probably the most improved part of our team," he told the team's website. "With Howie [goalie Jimmy Howard] playing the way he and the [defense] are able to get the puck going, we're spending a lot less time in our zone. That allows you to be much better up front."

Since DeKeyser arrived, Babcock has gone mostly with the same six blueliners -- veterans Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Kyle Quincey along with the three younger players. And with the team going 6-3-3 with DeKeyser in the lineup, there's no reason to change now.

"You have to learn on the go and I think we've been doing that this year," Smith told the team's website. "I think we heard a lot about our defense, about people not having faith in us, but I think we've done pretty well. I think our goals-against average is top 10 in the League, so it's something we're going to keep doing. We're going to keep playing hard like that, keep blocking shots and keep playing the same way we have of late, and I think it'll pay off for us."

Ducks: The Ducks didn't exactly steamroll their way into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, going 4-4-1 to start April before winning three of their final four. However, coach Bruce Boudreau said he saw some positives in the team's final game, a 5-3 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. The Ducks put 46 shots on net, which Boudreau certainly liked.

"The effort of playoff-mode hockey was there [Saturday]," Boudreau told the team's website. "We played a pretty good defensive team and we ended up with 46 shots on goal, and sometimes that's misleading, but we had some great chances to score and we just never put it in. Hopefully starting Tuesday, if we have that same kind of effort, we'll get a couple more bounces our way."

Teemu Selanne and Francois Beauchemin scored two of the goals, and getting scoring from places other than the top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan will be key for advancing in the postseason.

"In the playoffs, I've always said you're as good as your weakest link," Selanne told the team's website. "Raise that bar as high as you can. Everybody's first line is good. Second line, too. But those third and fourth lines are how you're going to win. I remember in 2007 with [Samuel] Pahlsson, [Rob] Niedermayer and [Travis] Moen, a lot of nights they were our best line. That's what we need."

Who's hot: Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg finished the regular season with four straight multi-point games, totaling two goals and eight assists. … Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf closed the regular season with points in three straight and seven of his final nine.

Injury report: Darren Helm (back) and Drew Miller (finger) are out for the Red Wings, while Mikael Samuelsson (pectoral) and Todd Bertuzzi (back) are questionable. … Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa (lower body) is questionable.

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