|Written by Jerry Santiago|
|Saturday, 18 April 2009 12:10|
NHL playoffs action from Detroit will feature the Columbus Blue Jackets and one of the heavy NHL gambling chalks in the Red Wings. NHL playoffs fans are enjoying the first appearance ever by Columbus while NHL gambling handicappers again favor Detroit to make it all the way.
The Columbus Blue Jackets appearance in this year's NHL playoffs is due to their defense, which ranked 9th overall in the league. Goaltender Steve Mason was an iron man all season and finished with a record of 33-20-7, a stellar 2.29 goals against average, and a .916 save percentage. Mason also had 10 shutouts just for good measure.
The NHL gambling cause for concern regarding the Blue Jackets is their defense, which ranked just 21st in the league. Columbus must get significantly better offensive production if they are to have any chance at all in the NHL playoffs versus the defending Stanley Cup champions. Left winger Rick Nash led the Blue Jackets in scoring with 40 goals and 39 assists.
There was a big dropoff from there however as the next best man, left winger Kristian Huselius, had just 21 goals and 35 assists. This lack of offensive depth is a major detriment for Columbus entering the NHL playoffs. Beyond that, the Blue Jackets faded down the home stretch of the regular season as they lost 6 out of their final 8 games entering the NHL playoffs.
The Detroit Red Wings also faded down the stretch and lost the top seed in the western conference and the automatic home ice advantage that would have come with it throughout the NHL playoffs. Detroit was firmly ensconced in first place in late March before losing 6 of their final 8 games of the regular season.
Detroit is about as mirror opposite of Columbus as you could get as they ranked number one best in the league for offense and an alarming 19th overall on defense. Detroit could be a solid over team in the NHL playoffs, especially at home, as they went under the total in just 16 out of 41 home games. Center Pavel Datsyuk is the key component to the Red Wing machine as he enters the NHL playoffs as Detroit's top scorer with 32 goals and 65 assists.
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