The Phoenix Coyotes continue their playoff run in the second of the seven game series against the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings took the first game Wednesday night beating the Coyotes 4-2.
After coming out strong with Kyle Turris drawing the first goal, the Coyotes squandered their man-advantage opportunities, the momentum clearly went to the team from Detroit, and they never responded.
What's on tap for tomorrow? What will the Coyotes need to do to take a game away from the Red Wings and come home 1-1 with their rabid fans waiting for their return? Can the extended break between games work to their advantage instead of their disadvantage?
Up to the time Turris potted the first goal, the Coyotes dictated play and held the possession of the puck. The Red Wings did not skate up to the Coyotes' level and Ilya Bryzgalov made timely saves. However the power play, or lack thereof cost them dearly. I remember listening to a broadcast two or so years ago when Coyotes faced the St. Louis Blues. The Coyotes went on an early 5-on-3 man advantage and did not convert. Keith Tkachuk was on the broadcast that night and deadpanned, "Can't win a hockey game not scoring on a 5-on-3 like that."
As a team, the Coyotes can hang with the elite superstars that the Red Wings possess, but the intangibles always comes down to the specialty team fight. The team that converts more of these opportunities will win the game and the series. The Coyotes must do better.
Last year, when these Coyotes faced the Red Wings, they were a hitting machine and the Red Wings didn't like it at all. The same tactic applies here as well. More players have to hit more, block shots more, and score more to win this hockey game. Win those battles, and they will be in good shape.
The Red Wings have the experience as they have made the playoffs 20 consecutive times. When they have the momentum, they know what to do with it. Those players that lit the lamp for the Red Wings are those that have to have their time and space limited: Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Brian Rafalski, and Jiri Hudler. They might not be able to completely eliminate them, but keeping these players to the outside and allowing Ilya Bryzgalov to see those shots will go a long way to beating this team.
However, the unsung hero Wednesday night for the Red Wings came from the performance of Jimmy Howard. He made the important saves keeping the game close. As the game wore on, traffic in front of him became sparse, and the shots he faced he clearly saw all the way. As Bryzgalov let in some of his important opportunities, Howard made his, a far cry from last year, and Howard won the goalie battle Wednesday night.
When teams don't play up to expectation, players like going right out there again to get rid of the demons they encountered. Therefore, with the extended time between games, one would think that would have benefited the Red Wings, especially with Henrik Zetterberg's injury and by keeping the Coyotes out of rhythm. However, this break could have worked to the Coyotes' advantage instead allowing them to make sure their issues are cleaned up in time.
Five for Winning
- Specialty Teams have to be better - both on the PP and the PK.
- Winning the one-on-one battles and supporting each other defensively will allow Bryzgalov to make those timely saves.
- Play in their zone more because by doing so, the offensive firepower of the Red Wings will be neutralized.
- Play a physical game - out hit the Red Wings so that they become uncomfortable.
- Stay out of the box and allow head coach Dave Tippett to run all four lines, and put relentless pressure on the Red Wings D.
|2010 - Ilya Bryzgalov||68||4060||36||20||168||2.48||2125||1957||.921||7|
|2010 - Jimmy Howard||63||3615||37||17||168||2.79||1830||1662||.908||2|
|2010 - Lauri Korpikoski||19||21||40||17||20|
|2010 - Pavel Datsyuk||23||36||59||11||15|
Phoenix Coyotes Injuries
|Player||Injury Type||Injury Date|
Detroit Red Wings Injuries
Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)
|Player||Injury Type||Injury Date|