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Phoenix Coyotes @ Detroit Red Wings Preview: Spoilers

Its do or die time again for the Phoenix Coyotes as they face off against the Detroit Red Wings on the road tonight. According to Sports Club Stats a regulation loss today drops their chances of entering the playoffs to zero, although a win doesn't necessarily mean they will be playing in the post-season either.

Christian Petersen

The Phoenix Coyotes will entering Detroit coming off a successful shoot out victory against the league leading Chicago Blackhawks. It wasn't the cleanest victory, and it required a fair amount of luck, but it proved that the Coyotes can still beat the best teams in the league provided they stay determined and play their game. So far the Yotes have split the series with the Red Wings with the Coyotes winning the last game at home 4-2 earlier this month. The win came off a very impressive second period where the Coyotes scored three times and limited the Red Wings to 5 shots on goal, the only time they outshot the Red Wings during that game. Unfortunately Mondays haven't been great for the Desert Dogs in the final months of this season, after winning their first 5 Monday games they have dropped the last 4, three in shutouts.

The Detroit Red Wings are currently in danger of not making the playoffs for the first time in decades; in their past ten games they have only gone 3-4-3, and their wins have not been against playoff teams: they shut out the Nashville Predators and beat the Colorado Avalanche twice. Detroit has really struggled this season; they have a -3 goal differential and have only 4 more games to get the necessary points to crack 8th place. You should expect Detroit to play desperately to try to keep their playoff streak alive.

Five For Winning:

1. Score first. The Coyotes tend to play better when they aren't chasing the game, an early goal puts them in a good spot where they aren't playing catch up.

2. Play a strong 60 minutes. The Yotes have been inconsistent between periods, they typically have some very strong periods and some very weak ones. The Coyotes need to play the full 60 minutes and not take 20 minutes off.

3. Stay disciplined. The Coyotes need to learn to stay out of the box and stop giving the other team the man advantage. Both Chicago's goals came when they had the man advantage, so hopefully they learned that the other teams will make them pay.

4. Keep it in regulation. No need to give Detroit an extra point, or risk another shootout, despite how cool it was seeing David Schlemko win it.

5. Win. Even if the Coyotes don't make the playoffs this season it would be nice to be the team that kept Detroit out of it.

Likely Starting Goaltenders

Mike Smith

#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes



Mar 22, 1982

2012 - Mike Smith 31 1773 14 11 76 2.57 854 778 .911 5

After missing two games against San Jose and St. Louis, Mike Smith returned against the Blackhawks and was pretty solid, stopping 36 out of 38 shots for a .947 save percentage. Hopefully he can have another great performance in Motown.

Jimmy Howard

#35 / Goalie / Detroit Red Wings



Mar 26, 1984

2012 - Jimmy Howard 38 2206 17 13 84 2.28 1032 948 .919 3

While Jimmy Howard has been good this season he is 1-1-3 in his past 5 starts; He remains in the Top 10 in many of the NHL's statistical categories, but he will need to be better to give Detroit a shot at making the playoffs.

Players to Watch:

Radim Vrbata

#17 / Right Wing / Phoenix Coyotes



Jun 13, 1981

G A P +/- PIM
2012 - Radim Vrbata 9 14 23 3 12

Radim Vrbata has scored in the past two games which hopefully means he is starting to get hot again. Vrby can be a very streaky player so hopefully this is the start of a good streak to finish off the season.

Pavel Datsyuk

#13 / Center / Detroit Red Wings



Jul 20, 1978

G A P +/- PIM
2012 - Pavel Datsyuk 13 28 41 14 14

Pavel Datsyuk leads the Red Wings in goals and points this season and he scored the game winning goal in the first game against Phoenix. He hasn't scored in his past 6 games though, although he does have 3 assists in that time period.



Lauri Korpikoski: Upper Body Injury (expected to play according to head-coach Dave Tippett)


Darren Helm: Back

Todd Bertuzzi: Back

Mikael Samuelsson: Pectoral

Drew Miller: Hand

Be sure to come back later today for our game day thread and you can check out Winging It In Motown for Detroit's perspective. Today's game is an early start because of the time zones so puck drop will be at 4:30 pm AZ time.