Tonight’s game 7 of the Western Conference semi-finals in Detroit between the Red Wings and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks has all the makings of a classic. The Ducks staved off elimination Tuesday night in Anaheim with a physical style of play, leading to a 2-1 win to force a final game and an all-out brawl at the horn that saw even Pavel Datsyuk in the middle of the scrum. Throughout the series, which features the last two Stanley Cup champions, the Wings have dominated the Ducks in most aspects of play, but Anaheim have held their own by steady goaltending by Jonas Hiller and capitalizing off of Detroit miscues. Easy scores have come off of turnovers or miscommunications, and the Detroit penalty-kill, ranked 24th in the regular season, has been an achilles’ heel for the team. Both goals in game 6 came off of short-handed situations for the Wings, and even then they had opportunities at the end for an equalizer with Datsyuk’s wide-open look with just a few seconds left.

Tonight, I look for the Wings to come out focused, determined and somewhat angry. Aside from the obvious retaliation for the Ducks constantly getting after Datsyuk, the Wings will be skating and hitting hard. Red Wings forward Daniel Cleary had this to say about the Ducks’ “physical” play:

“I felt that some guys took liberties on certain players unknown to fight so we just have to see Thursday.”

Seems like ominous words to me.

The Wings will have to use what the Ducks have used against them by making the most of their scoring situations and also by limiting the mistakes. Chris Osgood is a solid goaltender, but even he can’t bail the Wings defense out by himself. Someone will need to get after Ryan Getzlaf to knock the Ducks off their offensive game and Detroit will need to score the first goal early to get the crowd fired up. The home team has won 63 percent of Game 7s in the NHL playoffs, and I look for trend to continue tonight. Then, its all about the Chicago Blackhawks…