|Angus' Playoff Pool Primer - Part 1 of 2|
Western Conference Quarterfinals: (2) Detroit Red Wings vs. (7) Columbus Blue Jackets
Detroit and Columbus will be a very interesting match-up, and the series essentially comes down to one factor: can Chris Osgood play well enough for the Wings to win?
Steve Mason has had a season to remember for the Blue Jackets, but he will be in tough against the deep and talented Wings offensive attack. However, he does possess the skill and mental game to steal a couple in this series. Columbus is thin up front and that may be their undoing, but help is on the way. Reports out of Columbus indicate Freddy Modin will be back for game one, and star rookie Derick Brassard may suit up as early as game three.
Fantasy-wise, the Wings are chalk-full of players. As a sleeper, I like Valtteri Filppula. He was fantastic last year in the playoffs, and he is a very versatile player. Look for him to step his game up. On Columbus, it obviously starts with Rick Nash, but shrewd pickups Jason Williams and Antoine Vermette have both provided some secondary scoring as well.
Forwards: Detroit. Deeper and more talented. Both teams have excellent defensive forwards though.
Defense: Even. Columbus has little star power on the back end, but their six-man unit is deep and defensively sound. Look for Jan Hejda to make a name for himself if the Jackets pull the upset.
Goaltending: Columbus. Mason has been one of the better goalies in NHL this season. Osgood has been very underwhelming.
Intangibles: Detroit. Columbus has some key veteran players who have been through the battles before (Mike Peca and Mike Commodore among others), but the Wings are the defending cup champs.
Match-up to Watch For:
Rick Nash vs. Nick Lidstrom. Not much else to say.
Detroit is deeper and more talented, but do they have the goaltending? I think so. Wings in six.