Scottsdale, Ariz. — General manager Ken Holland, standing in the lobby of the Red Wings’ practice rink here Tuesday, was asked what worried him most heading into the first-round series against the Coyotes tonight.
“What worries you is what you can’t control,” he said.
By that, he meant bad bounces or, more pertinently, a hot goalie. He talked about the series in 2006 when Detroit, which won the Presidents’ Cup that year, was upset in the first round by No. 8 seed Edmonton.
“People said we were too European and not tough enough, but we dominated that series,” Holland said. “We outshot them every game and we just couldn’t get it to go in the net. That’s playoff hockey. The best team doesn’t always win.”
He shrugged and added, “You can’t be any more ready to play than we are. We’ve been playing our best hockey the last month or more — offense, defense, specialty teams, goaltending — what else can we do?”
Coach Mike Babcock has a wary eye on the unexpected, as well.
“Let’s be honest, everything (Phoenix) has touched has turned to gold this year,” he said. “They are a team that seems to have some karma about them. Yet, we’ve had our fair share of late, too.
“They have a good goalie (Ilya Bryzgalov) and we have a good goalie (Jimmy Howard), too. They play with good structure and we play with good structure ourselves. So it should be fun.”
What’s intriguing is that these two teams, though they played each other four times this year, might not completely recognize one another at first.
“None of the teams have played their real team,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “The last time we were here (Jan. 26) we had eight guys on the injured list.”
And the last time the Wings faced the Coyotes, they hadn’t yet acquired Lee Stempniak, Wojtek Wolski, Mathieu Schneider and Derek Morris. Those guys combined are a plus-25 since joining the Coyotes. Stempniak and Wolski have combined to produce 20 goals and 36 points.
Tape to tape
This will be the first playoff game played at Jobing.com Arena. The building will be sold out and they are asking fans to wear white to re-create the “white out” scene from when the team played in Winnipeg. But the Wings typically have a large following in the Phoenix area. “I expect to see a lot of red,” Danny Cleary said.
… Justin Abdelkader and Brad May , recalled from Grand Rapids, skated with the team Tuesday but will not play tonight.
… The Wings have signed Swedish forward Joakim Andersson , their third-round pick (88th overall) in 2007, to a three-year entry-level contract.