Red Wings-Coyotes Preview
The Phoenix Coyotes have had nearly a week off to get over any
jet lag their season-opening trip to Prague may have caused.
They’ve had almost six months to stew over their performance
from their last meaningful game in Phoenix.
The Detroit Red Wings dominated Game 7 of their Western
Conference quarterfinal series at Phoenix, an untimely exit for
which the Coyotes can get a small measure of revenge in their home
opener Saturday night.
The Coyotes (1-1-0) were perhaps the NHL’s biggest surprise last
season, vaulting from a 79-point finish in 2008-09 to a 107-point
outburst and home-ice advantage in the opening round of the
Having four games at home against the two-time defending
conference champion Red Wings hardly proved to be a reward. Phoenix
lost three of them, including a 6-1 rout in Game 7 as Detroit fired
50 shots at Ilya Bryzgalov.
“It was more like a hurricane than a storm,” Phoenix coach Dave
Tippett said. “Their top players came out and dictated the pace and
we had no answers. They were relentless. They turned it up another
level that we couldn’t get to.”
Coyotes captain Shane Doan – who missed the series’ final four
games with a separated shoulder – said the day after the Game 7
loss that the team’s first postseason appearance in eight years
“can’t be an anomaly.”
Phoenix certainly came out and played like a playoff-worthy team
in its opener in the Czech Republic, getting two goals from Radim
Vrbata in a 5-2 win over Boston last Saturday. It couldn’t get
anything past goaltender Tim Thomas the following day, though,
leaving Prague after a 3-0 loss.
Now the Coyotes return to play their opener at home, where their
29 wins last season tied for third-most in the league.
“We’re going to have a lot of fun with (the opener) and enjoy
it,” Doan told the Coyotes’ official website. “We have to establish
that this is a place that we play well at, (and) when teams come in
here it’s going to be a tough night.”
Detroit (2-1-1) had a tough night Thursday after picking up five
points in its first three games. Despite outshooting the Stars
26-15 in Mike Modano’s return to Dallas, the Red Wings were
repeatedly thwarted by goaltender Kari Lehtonen in a 4-1 loss.
“We did a lot of good things and gave up only 15 shots on the
road, but I don’t think we mounted enough of a sustained attack,”
coach Mike Babcock said.
More concerning was the potential loss of Johan Franzen. The
Swedish winger, who had a goal and six assists in the playoff
series against Phoenix, left in the first period after a high hit
by Dallas defenseman Mark Fistric.
Franzen said after the game he suffered a concussion, but
Babcock preferred not to speculate.
“I wouldn’t use that word,” Babcock said. “We’ll let the doctors
diagnose it and not him.”
Even if Franzen, who leads the team with three goals, has to sit
Saturday, the Red Wings should be in good shape. Pavel Datsyuk had
five goals and three assists in the playoffs versus Phoenix, while
Henrik Zetterberg – who has yet to score in four games – had six
goals and five assists.
The Coyotes had their five-game winning streak in home openers
snapped with a 2-0 loss to Columbus last season.