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THN.com Playoff Blog: Swing game will determine Ducks-Wings series

Jonas Hiller has been among the best goaltenders in the playoffs so far, while Pavel Datsyuk hasn't performed like his usual self so far. (Shelly Castellano)

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Jonas Hiller has been among the best goaltenders in the playoffs so far, while Pavel Datsyuk hasn't performed like his usual self so far. (Shelly Castellano)

Sooner or later, one of them is going to go in. And count.

As good as Jonas Hiller has been in these playoffs, the Ducks might think about relieving his burden by outshooting an opponent for the first time this spring.

Having more rubber consistently directed at your net rather than your opponent’s is no way to sustain success.

The Ducks, as was pointed out on this site yesterday, should also strive to not only upset the Wings, but upset them in a hurry. Combine Anaheim’s rugged style with the fact it leans so heavily on a handful of players and you wonder how deep the gas tank goes.

While doctors cleared James Wisniewski earlier than expected, there’s no guarantee the highly serviceable Ducks defenseman will be in the lineup Thursday night after sustaining a bruised lung when he was struck by a Pavel Datsyuk slapper in Game 3.

Detroit was robbed of a tying goal late in that contest, but dwelling on such misfortune is pointless.

Instead, the Wings would like to see the fact Datsyuk is goalless in the series change. His entire line has faced stiff checking from the trio of Todd Marchant, Drew Miller and Rob Niedermayer. Obviously Detroit needs Datsyuk, who has just one goal and three points in seven playoff games this spring, to get rolling.

This is the type of game where championship-caliber clubs like the Wings need to show their mettle. They’re on the road, backs creeping ever closer to the wall – it’s time to push back or be pushed aside.

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The way the rest of the series sets up, you’ve got to believe the winner of Game 4 is looking good to advance to the conference final. Grabbing a 3-1 advantage affords Anaheim three chances to knock off the defending champs, including one more on home ice. But if Detroit can even things up heading back to Joe Louis Arena, you have to like its chances in a best-of-three, with two of those games at home.

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THN.com's Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before and the games ahead, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.

Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Fridays.


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