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Red Wings’ reward for advancing is Blackhawks
NHL » Detroit had been in playoff mode before postseason began.


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Detroit did outshoot the Blackhawks in three games, and had as many shots once. But the Red Wings couldn’t score a clutch goal or make one more save in regulation, overtime or shootouts to win any of them. The Red Wings, though, have evolved into a different team than the last one Chicago saw April 12 in a 3-2 shootout win at the United Center.

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Detroit didn’t get free agent defenseman Ryan Suter or forward Zach Parise in the offseason as both signed with Minnesota. But Detroit’s young defensemen, being forced to play a lot without Nicklas Lidstrom on the roster, have slowly matured and its inexperienced forwards have evolved into threats to score or set up teammates for goals.

Goaltender Jimmy Howard has validated the team’s decision to sign him to a six-year contract extension last month by making 70 saves over the last two games against Anaheim. While Howard insisted the Red Wings believe they can play with anybody, he’s also not striking a cocky tone about trying to match up with Chicago.

"We’re going to have our hands full, let’s be honest," he said. "They’re a very deep team at every position."


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