Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013, Red Wings vs. Blackhawks Game 1: Time, TV schedule and more

Jonathan Daniel

Chicago are heavy favorites to come out of the West, but Detroit will hope to pull off an upset, beginning tonight in Game 1.

The Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings don't like each other, and now they get seven games to put that contempt on display in the Western Conference semifinals, beginning tonight in Chicago.

Chicago are coming off of a relatively easy 4-1 series win over Minnesota, in which they outscored the Wild 8-1 in the final two games to put a ribbon on their first round. The Blackhawks' dominance was expected, seeing as they won the Presidents Cup, and with the No. 2, 3 and 4 seeds in the Western Conference all going out in the first round, Chicago are huge favorites to make the Stanley Cup Finals.

Things weren't nearly as easy for Detroit, who needed all seven games to get past the Ducks in the first round. They fell behind 3-2 in the series, but came back with an overtime win in Game 6 (their third overtime win of the series) and a win in Anaheim to oust the second-seeded Ducks.

The Blackhawks dominated the Red Wings in the regular season, winning all four meetings, including a 7-1 shellacking in Detroit on March 31. Chicago's dominance over Detroit goes beyond this season, too, having won seven straight and nine of 10 against the Red Wings.

Can the Blackhawks shake off the rust?

While the Red Wings slogged through seven tough games with the Ducks, the Blackhawks dispatched the Wild in five and got a break before the second round - maybe too long of a break. Chicago hasn't played a game since last Thursday, which will make them fresh, but possibly rusty too.

Will Jimmy Howard continue to sparkle?

Jimmy Howard was absolutely sensational in the first round. The numbers - 2.74 GAA and .911 save percentage - may not show it, but Howard was peppered with 32 shots a game and the Ducks got some excellent chances only for Howard to turn them away time and time again. The Red Wings defense got better as the season went on, but it is still a shay group that needs Howard to come up big behind them.

Can the Red Wings handle the Blackhawks' depth?

As good Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and the rest of the Blackhawks' top end players are, their real strength lies in their depth. Every Chicago forward who played in all five games had at least one point in the first round and nine had at least two points. Toss in Dave Bolland, who will be back for this series after missing the first round, and the Blackhawks have incredible depth that the Red Wings will have a tough time dealing with.

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