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

playoffs.

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.