The Anaheim Ducks have not won a playoff series since 2009. That was when they beat San Jose in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, and then fell to the Red Wings in a dramatic, epic seven-game series. They have a chance Friday night, at Joe Louis Arena, to win one for the first time since. Game 6 from the Joe Louis Arena will be an elimination game after the Ducks came back to win in overtime at Honda Center on Wednesday.
Nick Bonino continued his excellent series, scoring his third goal in five games and winning Game 5 for the formerly mighty Ducks. Bonino's contributions have been key in a series where Corey Perry has yet to tally a goal. Only Ryan Getzlaf has more points for Anaheim in the series.
As for Detroit, everything looked like it was fairly in the Wings' hands on Wednesday until ... they just gave up a lead in the third and finally ended up on the wrong side of an overtime period. Of all the current 3-2 series (Kings-Blues, Pens-Islanders), I don't honestly know if I'd give the Wings the best chance to come back, simply because they can't seem to win in regulation. Now that their overtime luck is running out, it appears things are slipping away from Detroit.
Will Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk save the Wings?
Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have a combined one goal in this series. In fact, only two players (Johan Franzen and Damien Brunner) have multiple goals in this series for Detroit at all. Look, you don't need me to tell you, but Datsyuk and Zetterberg will take the Wings to the second round if the next two games are their best of the series. Those are two players with special talent, capable of changing a series. But if the Ducks have the keys to shutting them down, this is probably over.
Or perhaps will it be Jimmy Howard?
Jimmy Howard has played ... okay in this series. A 2.84 goals against and a .903 save percentage isn't exactly league average, but you can't say that he's ruined Detroit. You also can't really say that, aside from maybe Game 4, he's stolen a game for the Wings. He's going to have to, it appears, if the Red Wings want to move on. If he's going to get outplayed by Jonas Hiller, then Detroit's staying home after Game 6.
Seriously, Corey Perry, any plans on scoring in this series?
Corey Perry is still without a goal in this series, and you have to be concerned if you're the Ducks, win or lose tonight, if this keeps up. A goalless Corey Perry in round two is basically house money, but a goalless Corey Perry headed to a do-or-die Game 7? He needs to get on the board one way or another, preferably tonight.
Game Time: 8 p.m. ET
National TV: CNBC, TSN2
Anaheim TV: KDOC
Detroit TV: FS Detroit