The Detroit Red Wings have the talent to win four straight games and overcome their 3-0 first-round deficit against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. But since it's only happened twice in Stanley Cup playoff history, the odds are against it. Regardless, the Red Wings' mindset is not to win four games; it's to win one Wednesday night and get back to Detroit.
For as well as Anaheim has played this series, Detroit has not capitalized on anything. Goaltending has made the difference. The Ducks' Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been the best player in the playoffs, not just in Anaheim, and has stopped just about everything he's seen -- and some things he hasn't seen.
To come away with win Game 4 -- and then the remaining games -- the Red Wings need to keep shooting the puck and getting as much traffic as possible in front of Giguere.
Detroit's best players are getting scoring chances. Brendan Shanahan and Sergei Fedorov both hit the post, and Brett Hull, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have had good shots. But the Wings have been unable to get them past Giguere. If their top scorers can't produce, the Red Wings will have an early exit.
Defensively, the Wings don't have to change much. Anaheim has scored only seven goals in the series, so it's not like the Ducks are lighting it up. Curtis Joseph hasn't been terrible; his save percentage is at .925. But he has been victimized by just about one bad goal per night, and that has been the difference.
Meanwhile, the Ducks are a well-coached team that works extremely hard and has confidence in its ability to win -- that's a very dangerous thing for an underdog.
Giguere's solid performance has given the Mighty Ducks confidence to be aggressive. Game 3 was their best game of the series and their best at putting pressure on the puck. They've played a bend-but-don't-break style of defense. And although the Ducks have allowed some scoring chances, Giguere has been able to see the puck most of the time.
Two other defensive keys have been Steve Rucchin and Keith Carney, who have both had a solid series. Rucchin has been matched up against Fedorov almost exclusively and Fedorov has yet to score a goal. Carney, who's probably the Ducks' most stable defenseman, has been steady and has logged big minutes. He makes a good first pass out of the zone.
Offensively the Ducks' top line consists of Paul Kariya, Petr Sykora and Adam Oates. Thus far, Kariya hasn't generated a lot of chances -- 10 shots in three games -- and Sykora, who had 34 goals in the regular season, hasn't done much. But Steve Thomas has been terrific, and Rob Niedermayer has quietly had a very good series as well.
To close out the series, it would help the Ducks to get more from the power play. They are 0-for-10 on power-play opportunities, and it's surprising that they are up 3-0 in the series without capitalizing on those situations.
But Anaheim's main pressure -- that I'm sure Mike Babcock is addressing -- is approaching Wednesday's game like it's Game 7. If the Ducks lose Game 4, the series heads back to Detroit. If that happens, chances are they'll lose Game 5. Then, they'll be back for Game 6 in Anaheim in a lot of hot water.
Anaheim needs to end the first-round series as quickly as possible and not give Detroit the chance to regroup.
Ray Ferraro is a hockey analyst for ESPN. He retired from an 18-year NHL career after the 2001-02 season.