Playoff Series Preview: (4) Vancouver vs (5) Detroit

 

The playoffs start real soon in the NFHL and Detroit looks to defend it’s title but they’ll be the underdogs in their first round matchup against Vancouver. Despite Detroit being the 7th best team in the league this year, since their Conference is so darn strong, they’ll face off against the 6th best team in the league during their first round matchup. Let’s see how the intangibles and stats look for this matchup:

 

Best Forward Group?

Vancouver is the 3rd highest scoring team in the league at 347 in 80 games. Compared to 329 for Detroit, the Canucks definitely have the edge here. They have a 100 and 95 point scorers in Oates and Gretzky. They have a very deep lineup that has six players scoring at least 68 points this year. Detroit definitely doesn’t have the depth it had last year and to make matters worse, they lost their 2nd line winger Dan Quinn to long term injury and he’ll miss at least the first two rounds of the playoffs. That leaves Detroit with just 4 players over the 68 point mark with Pederson leading the way with 87. Big time advantage for Vancouver here.

 

Best Defense?

Vancouver allowed 259 goals this year as compared to Detroit’s 266 so it’s pretty close. Luckily Detroit will have top four blueliner Tommy Albelin back from his late season injury so they’ll be healthy on defense heading into the series. They’re led offensively by Carkener (47 pts) and Konroyd (16 goals) while young Ulanov really stood out this year with a team high +41 rating. Vancouver is led on defense by Kurvers, Muni and Coffey who provide a lot of offence as well as they each scored at least 12 goals this year. Advantage goes to Vancouver for overall depth and offensive abilities of their blue line.

 

Best Goaltending?

In net, it’ll be interesting to see what Vancouver does. They have both Moffat and Belfour who are elite goaltenders but I expect Belfour to start the series given his slightly better GAA and his better in season record. For Detroit, it’s much more clear – they have Vanbiesbrouck who’ll lead the way for Detroit after leading the same team to a cup championship last year. I view Detroit having a slight edge in goaltending heading into the series with having the experience of knowing what it takes to lead a team to the title.

 

Momentum?

Both teams are coming into the playoffs winning 6 of their last 10. Detroit however has won three straight and has just 2 losses in those last 10 games compared to Vancouver’s 4. So a slight edge to Detroit here but we all know the playoffs are a reset so I don’t expect momentum from the regular season to be an issue here.

 

Home Ice Advantage?

Vancouver has a 24-14-2 home ice record while Detroit is 25-13-2 on the road this year. Not having home ice in this series seems to be an advantage for Detroit as they try to use the fact they are one of the best away teams in the league to turn the series around in which they do come in as an underdog despite being the defending champs.

 

Regular Season Series?

Detroit won the regular season series with a 3-1 record and a 19 to 11 goal differential, however all those games happened in the first half of the season – before Detroit continued to sell off some of their aging veterans for young and cost savings, so this regular season series shouldn’t be factored into their first round matchup.

 

 217     Canucks  1   at     Red Wings  2 

 408    Red Wings  5   at      Canucks  2  

 451     Canucks  6   at     Red Wings  4  

 536    Red Wings  8   at      Canucks  2