The Red Wings can beat the Ducks in the first round because:

They are playing their best hockey of the season and they have been for a week, winning four in a row when it was a must.

Beginning March 13, they recovered their power play for the first time in a calendar year, finishing with the most power-play goals at home in the NHL.

On Saturday, their special teams' percentages added together — 81.7 percent on the power play and 18.4 percent on the penalty kill — finally crossed the 100 percent sum, which normally is a prime ingredient for playoff contenders.

They are a seven seed, the Ducks are a two seed, and upsets like that occur in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs almost every year.

Mike Babcock likes his seventh-seeded team in the playoffs, and the last time that was true his Ducks upset the second-seeded Wings in a four-game sweep in 2003. The series sealed Babcock's reputation for preparation.

Now these Red Wings can deliver the payback for this franchise.

Jimmy Howard has three shutouts in seven games down the stretch, has not let in more than two goals since April 17 and has shown the ability to ramp up his game in previous playoffs.

Their captain, Henrik Zetterberg, is capable of scoring with a 230-pound defenseman draped all over him, adding a short-handed goal and warding off two defenders to pass the puck with the blade of his skate on top of it, in a kicking motion, to start the play on a third goal in the 3-0 playoff-clinching game Saturday night.

Compare it to a clutch performance by Steve Yzerman or Nicklas Lidstrom, if you must. But understand that Zetterberg long ago secured his own spot in the Red Wings' pantheon.