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Red Wings vs. Blackhawks: Series Storylines

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings
Playoff History: This will be the 15th post-season meeting between the Original Six franchises – the only match-ups occurring more often in Stanley Cup Playoff history are Montreal-Boston (32), Detroit-Toronto (23) and Chicago-Montreal (17). Chicago has won eight of the 14 previous series. The Red Wings captured the most recent series, defeating the Blackhawks 4-1 in the 1995 Western Conference Final. Detroit recorded three of its wins in overtime.

Old Rivals: The Red Wings and Blackhawks are participating in their 83rd NHL season, both having joined the League in 1926-27. The clubs have met 703 times in regular-season play -- no NHL opponents have faced each other more often.

Winter Classic Memories:
The combination of iconic Wrigley Field, the longtime 'Original Six' rivals Blackhawks and Red Wings and perfect New Year's Day weather made the 2009 Winter Classic a hit with the critics and television viewers. The game earned a 2.9 overnight rating on NBC, the best overnight NHL regular season rating in the U.S. in nearly 13 years (Feb. 3, 1996 on Fox, 3.0).

City Connections: Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios hails from Chicago and played nine seasons in a Blackhawks uniform from 1990-91 until he was dealt to the Red Wings at the trade deadline in March, 1999. He won two Norris Trophies as the League's top defenseman with the Blackhawks, in 1993 and 1996. Red Wings defenseman Brett Lebda was born in the Chicago suburb of Buffalo Grove, IL and played his collegiate hockey at nearby Notre Dame. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane grew up in Buffalo but moved to the Detroit area to play minor hockey in the Honeybaked organization and then two seasons with the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based U.S. National Team Development Program.

Goaltending Matchup: Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood, 36, has won three Stanley Cups (Detroit '97, '98 and '08), is tied for 10th place on the all-time regular-season victories list with 389 and is 10th on the career playoff wins list with 67. The Blackhawks' Nikolai Khabibulin, also 36, has captured one Stanley Cup (Tampa Bay '04), ranks 24th on the all-time regular-season victories list with 299 and is 22nd on the career playoffs wins list with 39.

Blackhawks' Super Scout: No one has closer ties to both organizations than legendary NHL head coach Scotty Bowman, who captured three Stanley Cups behind the Red Wings bench in 1997, 1998 and 2002, served the club in an advisory capacity through its 2008 championship and has acted as senior advisor for the Blackhawks since August, 2008.

Season Series: The Red Wings captured the 2008-09 regular-season series by posting eight points (4-2-0) to the Blackhawks' six points (2-2-2) in the six games. The Red Wings won each of the first four contests, culminating with the 6-4 win at Wrigley Field in the Winter Classic on New Year's Day. The Blackhawks won both ends of a home-and-home series over the final weekend of the regular season Apr. 11-12.

Red Wings forward Jiri Hudler had the Blackhawks' number all season, leading all scorers in the season series with nine points (four goals, five assists) and a +5 rating in six games. His best performance came on the biggest stage, tallying 2-1--3 in Detroit's 6-4 victory in the Winter Classic. He scored back-to-back second-period goals to wipe out a 3-1 Chicago lead and earned an assist on the game-winning goal by defenseman Brian Rafalski in the third.

Conference Semifinals Recap: In a match-up of Stanley Cup champions from the past two seasons, the Red Wings eliminated the Anaheim Ducks in a thrilling seven-game series. The outcome hung in the balance until Detroit forward Dan Cleary scored with three minutes remaining in the third period of Game 7, lifting the Red Wings to a berth in the Western Conference Final for the third consecutive year and for the eighth time in the past 14 seasons.

The Blackhawks earned the nickname 'Comeback Kids' in round two, eliminating the Vancouver Canucks in six games to reach the Conference Finals for the first time since 1995. The Blackhawks had trailed in each of their four victories and scored 14 of their 23 goals in the third period or overtime. Second-year star Patrick Kane paced the Blackhawks with eight points (six goals, two assists), including his first career hat trick in the series-clinching Game 6.

First-Round Recap: The Red Wings posted a four-game sweep over Columbus, outscoring the Blue Jackets 18-7. The Red Wings were the only club that did not trail throughout its opening-round series. Forward Johan Franzen led the club in scoring with 2-4--6, capped by the series-winning goal with 47 seconds remaining in Game 4 that broke a 5-5 tie. It marked the sixth consecutive series in which Franzen tallied a game-winning goal and the seventh in his eight series since the start of the 2007 post-season.

The Blackhawks posted their first playoff series win since 1996 by upending the Calgary Flames in six games. Forward Martin Havlat lifted the team in the pivotal opening game by scoring the game-tying goal late in the third period and adding the winner just 12 seconds into overtime -- the third-fastest overtime goal in NHL playoff history. Calder Trophy finalist Kris Versteeg led the Blackhawks in scoring (2-5--7).

Detroit Red Wings

NHL Playoff Appearance: 57th (18th consecutive)
Stanley Cups: 11 (1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008)
All-Time Playoff Series Record: 64-45
All-Time Playoff Game Record: 293-257-1

Season Highlights

The Red Wings are attempting to repeat as Stanley Cup champions for the first time in more than a decade. They were the last club to accomplish the feat, winning back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998. Five of the players who competed for both champions are on the Red Wings' active roster (Kris Draper, Tomas Holmstrom, Nicklas Lidstrom, Kirk Maltby and Chris Osgood).

The Detroit Red Wings set an NHL record by posting their ninth consecutive 100-point season with a 4-0 victory at Columbus Mar. 15, passing the Montreal Canadiens' eight-season streak from 1974-75 through 1981-82. The Red Wings also clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 18th consecutive season -- the longest active streak of qualifying for the postseason among the major pro sports -- and captured the Central Division title for the eighth consecutive season.

The Red Wings had three defensemen in the top 11 in NHL defense scoring - Nicklas Lidstrom (third, 16-43--59), Brian Rafalski (fifth, 10-49--59), and Niklas Kronwall (11th, 6-45--51). Lidstrom has recorded 997 career regular-season points, just shy of becoming just the eighth defenseman in League history to reach the 1,000-point milestone, and earned his 10th selection as a Norris Trophy finalist in the past 11 seasons.

C Pavel Datsyuk finished fourth in the NHL scoring race with 97 points (32 goals, 65 assists), equaling his career high set in 2007-08. He led the club in scoring for a fourth consecutive season, surpassing the three-year runs of franchise greats Ted Lindsay, Gordie Howe and Steve Yzerman. Datsyuk also excelled at the defensive end, ranking third among NHL players in plus-minus with a +34 rating. Voted a finalist for the Hart, Lady Byng and Frank Selke Trophies, Datsyuk could become the first player ever to sweep these awards in the same season.

The Red Wings were counting on big production from RW Marian Hossa when they signed him as an unrestricted free agent last summer and he responded, notching the third 40-goal season of his NHL career. Hossa, who also tallied 40-goal seasons with the Ottawa Senators and Atlanta Thrashers, is just the eighth player in NHL history to do with three different clubs. Hossa will look to repeat the form of his 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he ranked third in NHL scoring with 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 20 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

LW Henrik Zetterberg tallied his fourth consecutive 30-goal season, finishing second on the Red Wings in scoring (31-42--73). He is the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, finishing at or near the top of several post-season categories including points (1st, 27), goals (T-1st, 13), plus-minus (T-1st, +16), shots (1st, 116), game-winning goals (2nd, four) and assists (T-3rd, 14).

LW Johan Franzen continued his knack for clutch scoring this season, sharing the Red Wings lead in game-winning goals with Marian Hossa (eight). Last season, Franzen franchise records for most game-winners in a calendar month (six in March 2008) and in a single playoff year (five). "The Mule" ranked second on the Red Wings in goals this season with a career-high 34.

Chris Osgood and Ty Conklin are one of three NHL club goaltending tandems who each made at least 40 appearances this season, joining Jean-Sebastien Giguere/Jonas Hiller (Anaheim) and Cristobal Huet/Nikolai Khabibulin (Chicago). Conklin set career highs in wins (25-11-2) and shutouts (six), while Osgood rose to a tie for 10th on the all-time victories list (389) and second on the Red Wings' all-time list (305).

Key Wins

Oct. 11: It didn't long for the Red Wings' Johan Franzen to resume his clutch goal-scoring from the Stanley Cup-winning 2007-08 season. Franzen tallied twice in the third period to give the Red Wings a 3-2 comeback victory at Ottawa in the club's second game of the season. Franzen set a franchise record with 13 postseason goals in 2008 after scoring 15 times in Detroit's final 16 regular-season games.

Dec. 13: Johan Franzen scored the game-tying goal with 19.9 seconds remaining in regulation and Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler tallied in the shootout as the Red Wings escaped with a 5-4 victory at Phoenix. The game also marked the return of Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios for his 25th NHL season. Chelios had missed Detroit's first 28 games due to injury.

Jan. 1: Playing in front of 40,818 fans outdoors at Chicago's Wrigley Field and the largest regular-season television audience in nearly 13 years, the Red Wings posted a 6-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2009 Winter Classic. Trailing 3-1 after the first period, the Red Wings scored five consecutive goals, highlighted by strikes by defensemen Brian Rafalski and Brett Lebda 17 seconds apart in the third period.

Feb. 4:
Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom celebrated his 1,300th career regular-season game in style, scoring a power-play goal with 39 seconds remaining in the third period to give Detroit a 5-4 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes at Joe Louis Arena. The goal negated a third-period Phoenix comeback in which the club rebounded from a 4-2 deficit to tie the game with five minutes to play.

Feb. 25:
Henrik Zetterberg scored twice, including a highlight-reel shorthanded effort, as the Red Wings defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-1 and earned a split of their season series. The home club won each time in the four contests between the Western Conference leaders.

Chicago Blackhawks

NHL Playoff Appearance: 54th (first since 2002)
Stanley Cups: 3 (1934, 1938, 1961)
All-Time Playoff Series Record: 42-50
All-Time Playoff Game Record: 196-222-5

Key Acquisitions

Mar. 4: Acquired C Samuel Pahlsson, D Logan Stephenson and a conditional pick in the 2009 Entry Draft from Anaheim for D James Wisniewski and C Petri Kontiola.

Season Highlights

Chicago’s 46 wins and 104 points were the team’s most since 1992-93 (47 wins, 106 points). The team reached the 100-point mark for the first time since 1992-93 and improved by 16 points from a year ago when their 88-point total left them three points shy of a playoff berth.

The Blackhawks are the League's only team to improve on its record in each of the past four seasons --- 59 points in 2003-04; 65 points in 2005-06; 71 points in 2006-07; 88 points in 2007-08 and 104 points in 2008-09.

The Blackhawks' rebuild started less than two months after their last playoff appearance in 2002 when they selected Duncan Keith in the second round of the 2002 Draft (54th overall).  Since that time their Draft choice from their present day roster have also included: Adam Burish: 2002, 282nd overall; Brent Seabrook: 2003, 14th overall; Dustin Byfuglien: 2003, 245th overall; Cam Barker: 2004, 3rd overall; Dave Bolland: 2004, 34th overall; Troy Brouwer: 2004, 214th overall; Niklas Hjalmarsson: 2005, 108th overall; Jonathan Toews: 2006, 3rd overall; and Patrick Kane: 2007, 1st overall.

The Blackhawks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and are making their second post-season appearance in the past 11 years.

A great deal of the Blackhawks success this season can be attributed to their play on the road -- they tied a franchise record with 22 road wins and had a 22-15-4 record away from the United Center. Last season, the Blackhawks posted a 17-18-6 mark on the road.

The Blackhawks ranked fifth in the League with a 2.51 team goals-against average in 2008-09 ... they finished 20th in the league with a 2.82 average last season.

The Blackhawks tied for fourth in the League with an average of 3.22 goals per game this season after finishing 10th in the league in 2007-08 with an average of 2.85 goals per game.

C Jonathan Toews was named the 34th captain in Blackhawks history on July 17, making him the third-youngest player to earn that distinction in League history. Toews, who turned 21 on Apr. 29, is the second youngest captain to lead a team in the Stanley Cup playoffs (after Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby).

G Nikolai Khabibulin posted a 25-8-7 record this season, marking the 10th time in his 13-year NHL career that he has reached the 20-victory plateau. He ranked fourth among NHL goaltenders with a 2.33 goals-against average.

RW Martin Havlat led the Blackhawks with 48 assists and 77 points -- both career highs -- and ranked second on the club with 29 goals and a personal-best +29 rating.

Head coach Joel Quenneville posted a 45-22-11 mark since being named the 37th bench boss in Blackhawks history on Oct. 16.

Key Games

Oct. 19: The Blackhawks recorded their first win under new head coach Joel Quenneville with a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at United Center. Quenneville was hired Oct. 15 and made his debut behind the bench in a 4-3 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues the following night.

Nov. 22: Dave Bolland scored the winning goal in overtime as the Blackhawks, who trailed 3-0 and 4-2, defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 at Air Canada Centre. The goal and the win were extra special for the Toronto native Bolland, who was playing in front of more than 50 friends and family on the night the home side honored Maple Leaf legend Wendel Clark.

Dec. 16: The Blackhawks continued their surge on a Western Conference road trip by handing the Edmonton Oilers a 9-2 defeat -- the most goals Edmonton has surrendered since a 9-4 loss to Los Angeles on Dec. 28, 1992. Chicago went 4-for-5 on the power play in winning a fifth consecutive game, their longest streak since 2001-02.

Dec. 28:
The Blackhawks set a franchise record by recording their ninth consecutive victory, a 4-1 decision over the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The club surpassed the mark of eight consecutive victories set in December 1971 and matched in January 1981. Blackhawks forward Dustin Byfuglien enjoyed a career night, figuring in all four goals (two goals, two assists).

Apr. 3:
Captain Jonathan Toews scored his team-leading 32nd goal, the winning tally in a 3-1 conquest of the Nashville Predators, as the Blackhawks clinched their first Stanley Cup Playoff berth since 2001-02.

Author: NHL .com

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