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Detroit Red Wings @ Phoenix Coyotes Preview: Last Chance Saloon

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The team that has given the Phoenix Coyotes and their fans nightmares the last two postseasons is on tap this evening. The Detroit Red Wings have won seven in a row against the Desert Dogs, including last year's playoff sweep. Phoenix looks to turn things around this evening at Arena at 6p.m. MST. The early start time is due to the game airing nationally on the NBC Sports Network. Tonight's contest is the final regular season meeting between the two squads.

The Red Wings are coming off an overtime loss on the road to Edmonton on Saturday night. Though they lost the game they did force overtime by erasing a two goal deficit in the third period. They lead the Western Conference with 72 points. The one bright spot in the Wings record for tonight is Mike Babcock's team has not played as well on the road as they have at home.

The Coyotes have only scored six goals in the three prior games against the Wings this season. All six goals were by forwards, including two by Radim Vrbata. The Coyotes blueline needs to involve themselves more in the offense tonight. In addition, Phoenix needs to get contributions from all three of their forward lines like they did on Saturday against San Jose. The Yotes are four points out of a playoff birth with thirty games to go. They need to find a way to come away with points, preferably two, this evening.

Five For Winning

1. Puck Possession. The more the Coyotes have the pucks, the more Datsyuk and Zetterberg don't.

2. Don't allow #13 space on the ice. If you give Datsyuk space (or time) he makes you pay. He has a team high five assists against the Yotes this season.

3. End it in regulation. The Coyotes have lost two of three match-ups against Detroit so far this season in shootouts.

4. Discipline. This is an area the Coyotes have done fairly well in all year. They can't afford to take penalties against a team with a good power play like Detroit.

5. Pepper the net. The Coyotes have been out shot by the Wings 109 to 92 in their three meetings so far this season. The trend needs to be reversed this evening.

Key Players

Keith Yandle

#3 / Defenseman / Phoenix Coyotes



Sep 09, 1986

G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Keith Yandle 6 23 29 -4 28

The Coyotes need their all-star defenseman to play well in all three zones this evening. He has struggled against the Wings this season like he did last postseason. He needs to play a smart positional game and close gaps quickly. On the flip side, Yandle needs to jump into the play in the offensive zone to create mismatches the Coyotes can exploit against a Wings defense that hard to score on. Detroit is sixth in the league in goals against per game (2.36).

Todd Bertuzzi

#44 / Right Wing / Detroit Red Wings



Feb 02, 1975

G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Todd Bertuzzi 12 15 27 23 48

Bertuzzi had two goals, including the game winner, the last time the two team squared off. With Tomas Holmstrom's struggles/injuries this season Bertuzzi has been relied upon more. The Coyotes will likely need to remove him from Mike Smith's crease often.

Likely Starting Goaltenders

Mike Smith

#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes



Mar 22, 1982

2011 - Mike Smith 40 2304 19 14 96 2.50 1205 1109 .920 2

Smith rebounded from getting pulled on in the first game after the All-Star break with a solid performance against the Sharks on Saturday night.

Joey MacDonald

#31 / Goalie / Detroit Red Wings



Feb 07, 1980

2011 - Joey MacDonald 1 45 0 0 1 1.33 23 22 .957 0

MacDonald may get the start by default given Ty Conklin's continued poor play. Detroit's regular starter Jimmy Howard is out with a broken finger.


Phoenix Coyotes Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
David Schlemko foot 01/08/2012

Detroit Red Wings Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Patrick Eaves jaw 11/27/2011

Head over to Winging It In Motown for the Wings perspective.