Will we see a repeat of 2003 -- when the Ducks swept the Red Wings out of the Western final? It's hard to say, but Anaheim heads into the showdown playing solid hockey, while Detroit is banged up. The key to the series could be Anaheim's PPG line (Dustin Penner, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf), which has combined for seven goals and 17 points in the playoffs. But even if that line stuffs the boxscore, the Ducks need to stay out of the box. They've been shorthanded 53 times in 10 games, but have the best PK in the playoffs, yet probably don't want to keep pressing their luck. For the Red Wings, they'll have to withstand constant pounding while squeezing something out of their third and fourth lines. It'll also help if Mikael Samuelsson can continue to light the lamp. But Detroit's injuries could be too much to overcome against such a formidable and physical opponent.
Nicklas Lidstrom Is there anything this greybeard can't do? He makes goal-saving dives in the crease, shuts down top forwards, and produces points while playing one of the smartest games in the league. He'll have to remain stellar in this series since the Red Wings will be going without two of their top four blueliners (Niklas Kronwell and Mathieu Schneider). Lidstrom had just one point in four regular-season games against the Ducks. If Detroit's top line gets shut down by Pronger and Niedermayer, captain Lidstrom will need to shoot first and pass second.
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Red Wings: Robert Lang The veteran pivot has just two goals and four points in the playoffs -- meaning it's time that he steps up his play. The Red Wings need production from their second line, and that starts with Lang generating chances for Valtteri Filppula and Johan Franzen. Not only is Lang not producing, but he's not firing off shots: nine in his past six games. With Todd Bertuzzi and Kyle Calder struggling, offense from Lang is a must if the Red Wings hope to give the Ducks a fight.
Ducks: Sami Pahlsson Not only is Pahlsson one of the most underrated two-way forwards in the league, he enters this series tied for second on the team, with seven points. But his greatest asset to the Ducks is his ability to clamp down on the other team's top players. Pahlsson -- along with linemates Travis Moen and Rob Niedermayer -- will have their hands full trying to corral Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. The 29-year-old Pahlsson is one player Anaheim can ill-afford to lose because he kills penalties, wins faceoffs and is a physical presence for 60 minutes.
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