Red Wings Hold Off Coyotes for Game Two Win

The Detroit Red Wings took a 4-0 lead early Saturday and held off a comeback attempt by the Phoenix Coyoted to pick up a 4-3 win. The Red Wings now lead their Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup, 2-0.

Pavel Datsyuk carried Detroit to their early lead, factoring in on all four goals, scoring once and assisting three more times.

Shane Doan played the same role for the Coyotes in their comeback, scoring twice and adding an assist on three power play goals.

Datsyuk got the Red Wings on the board with 9:18 left in the first period, the first of Detroit’s two goals on the power play. After getting the puck from Nicklas Lidstrom above the left faceoff circle, Datsyuk drifted into the high slot and dragged the puck to his right, snapping a shot past Ilya Bryzgalov to give Detroit the early lead.

Brian Rafalski added another power play goal with 4:10 left in the period, blasting a shot from just inside the blue line past Bryzgalov.

With just 59 seconds left in the first, Darren Helm made it 3-0. Datsyuk broke away from three defenders in the neutral zone and raced in on Bryzgalov, taking the puck between his legs for a shot that the Phoenix netminder got his pad on. After the initial save, no one made a move to stop Helm, who jumped in and banged the rebound over the sprawled-out goalie.

Tomas Holmstrom deflected a Valtteri Filppula shot into the top of the net to make it 4-0 at 1:11 of the second period, at which point the Red Wings seemingly let off the gas.

Radmin Vrbata got the Coyotes on the board at 7:02 of the middle period, snapping the rebound of a shot by Doan through an attempted block by Kris Draper and into the open side of Jimmy Howard‘s net while Danny Cleary was off for elbowing.

Doan’s first came at 5:49 of the third period, pulling Phoenix to within a pair. With Todd Bertuzzi off for slashing, Doan got to the side of the net and backhanded the rebound of a Keith Yandle shot past Howard.

In the closing seconds of a five-on-three, Doan slapped a shot from the high slot past Howard to make it 4-3 at 8:37 of the closing frame.

The Red Wings were outshot 11-10 in the third period but held on, taking back puck control in the final three minutes to limit the Coyotes’ chances with Bryzgalov on the bench for an extra attacker.

Detroit finished the afternoon with two goals on five power play chances. Phoenix went three-for-seven with the extra attacker.

Howard stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced in net while Bryzgalov made 27 stops on 31 chances.

The two teams will meet again on Monday in Glendale.

The Red Wings lost Johan Franzen for a significant portion of the first period after he went face-first into the boards on a hit by Doan. He required over twenty stitches and returned early in the second period… Detroit was without Henrik Zetterberg again, still out with a leg injury… Mike Modano and Jakub Kindl were healthy scratches for the Red Wings.

Postgame Thoughts: Coyotes @ Red Wings – Game Two

Trying to pull my post-game thoughts together after the relative panic of the end of today’s Red Wings – Coyotes game is proving harder than I expected.

Lots of complaining about the officiating going on from both sides, it looks like. Not surprising, from such an inconsistently-officiated game. I acknowledge complaints from the Phoenix side – they went to the box a lot early on – but I’m going to risk being quoted out of context by only focusing on Detroit complaints.

Two calls / non-calls really bothered me. Darren Helm went off for boarding in the second period on what, to me (not to Dave Tippett), was clearly a shoulder-to-shoulder hit. Then Ed Jovanovski gets all p*ssed off about it and grabs Helm by the jaw, no roughing call because no penalties ever happen after the whistle. Helm’s hit was legal. Never should have been a call. And Jovanovski shouldn’t have gotten away with that, either.

Second call was a non call. Johan Franzen goes to the box for a cross-check in the third period, partially a weak call but mostly a stupid play by Franzen, I can’t really disagree with it. Head to the ensuing power play, just before the Coyotes score you have Martin Hanzel cross-checking Brad Stuart to the ice without a call. In the span of two minutes we go from it being illegal to it being legal.

Ignoring penalties, further thoughts on the game…

Detroit came out exactly as they needed to. They dominated that first period, didn’t let up when Franzen went down (as they did when Henrik Zetterberg got hurt in Carolina ten days ago), and seemed to be poised to roll.

Then they let up. Call it “getting into penalty trouble” or whatever you want, it happened because the Red Wings got lazy and sloppy. And Phoenix took advantage to get back in the game.

The Coyotes were controlling the pace of the game for most of the third period and getting on the scoresheet because of it. It was one bounce from being a tie game after the Wings had such an early advantage.

The Red Wings closed it out, though. I thought they were really solid defensively in the final three minutes or so, keeping the puck in the Phoenix end quite a bit and clearing their own zone quickly. Valtteri Filppula probably should have had an empty-net goal but he botched the chance.

So what do the teams take away from this? Detroit held serve at home, which is the most important thing for them no matter how it happened. They’ve also seemingly solved Ilya Bryzgalov. Even without Henrik Zetterberg, they’ve controlled large parts of this series.

The Coyotes did make a bit of a statement today, though. Unlike Wednesday, they took advantage of the chances they got. Three power play goals after going scoreless on the man-advantage in Game One. They did some solving of their own.

Detroit obviously sits in better shape with the 2-0 series lead but Phoenix isn’t out of anything yet. The Wings need a road win to punctuate the series. We’ll see what happens Monday night.

Pregame Notes: Coyotes @ Red Wings – Game Two

It’s an afternoon matchup on NBC as the Red Wings host the Coyotes in Game Two of their Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup.

Since Detroit won Game One, a lot of the talk has been about how the Coyotes need to be more physical and/or goalie Ilya Bryzgalov needs to be better. Both may be true and are signs that, on the flip side, the Red Wings can’t be content with how they played on Wednesday.

If the Coyotes can find another gear, the Wings will have to as well. They made their share of mistakes on Wednesday night and against a Phoenix team that’s firing on all cylanders, that could have been critical.

Detroit hasn’t started an afternoon game time on time all season, so that’ll be the big issue for them to deal with. The series is too young for a must-win game but if the Red Wings can hold serve at home they’ll be in very good position heading to Glendale for Game Three.

Red Wings Score Four Straight in Game One Victory over Coyotes

The Detroit Red Wings scored four consecutive goals Wednesday night, propelling them to a 4-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes in Game One of their Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup.

Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Brian Rafalski and Jiri Hudler scored in succession for Detroit after the Red Wings gave up the game’s first goal early.

Kyle Turris opened the scoring just 2:16 into the first period, roofing a shot from the near edge of the right faceoff circle over Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard‘s shoulder.

Phoenix was poised to take control of the game for the rest of the first period, as the Red Wings took four penalties in the frame. The Detroit penalty kill came up big, though, killing off every Coyotes chance, including 1:29 of five-on-three.

Datsyuk got the Red Wings on the board at 7:38 of the second period. Franzen drove to the net from low on the left wing but the puck was knocked back behind the goal, where Datsyuk picked it up and wrapped it around, beating Ilya Bryzgalov to the far post to make it 1-1.

Franzen made it 2-1 with 7:58 left in the period, snapping a shot from the high slot past Bryzgalov.

Rafalski blasted a shot from the blue line into the back of the net with 1:44 left in the second and the Red Wings on a power play, giving Detroit a 3-1 lead after two periods.

At 3:16 of the third, Hudler snapped a shot over Bryzgalov’s shoulder after streaking down the left wing, making it 4-1 in favor of Detroit.

Radim Vrbata slapped a bouncing puck from the right wing boards past Howard to pull Phoenix back to within two at 7:38 of the third but the Coyotes would be unable to close any further.

Rafalski’s goal was the lone power play marker of the night, with Detroit having three tries with the man-advantage and the Coyotes having six, including their five-on-three.

Howard stopped 26 of 28 shots while Bryzgalov made 32 saves on 36 chances.

Game Two between the two teams will be Saturday afternoon in Detroit.

With his goal and an assist on Datsyuk’s, Franzen has points in thirteen consecutive playoff games… The Red Wings were without Henrik Zetterberg, still recovering from a lower-body injury… Mike Modano and Jakub Kindl were healthy scratches for Detroit.

Postgame Thoughts: Coyotes @ Red Wings – Game One

Overall, I think you can look at tonight’s Red Wings – Coyotes game and see a lot that looks good for Detroit. They rallied from one down, scored four straight, and got an important Game One win. Break it down by period, though, and it’s almost like three separate games.

I don’t care how close the shots were, Phoenix controlled the opening period. True, a lot of that can be attributed to special teams, but that doesn’t matter at the end of the night. Detroit did a nice job of weathering the storm but never got anything of their own going.

That changed in the second, which was all Detroit. Much more possession in the Phoenix zone and a better job of keeping the Coyotes from getting opportunities. Whistles put away, Wings got momentum. Not a conicidence.

Third period, game slowed down. Wings got a little sloppy as they let up and focused on preventing the lead. Never a good combination but it worked well enough.

The Red Wings need more of that second period. With their problems with consistency, they’ve gotta find a way to keep their foot on the gas for a full game.

Individual parts of the game worthy of note…

All four goals for Detroit (hell, all of the goals) were great plays. As I said at the time, Datsyuk’s goal doesn’t happen if he tries to skate it around the net. That was a great stick play. Franzen, Rafalski, Hudler, Turris and Vrbata? Fantastic shots, perfect placement.

Jimmy Howard was on tonight. A couple times I thought he bobbled the puck but stayed with it and one miscommunication behind the net. Did he go down early on the Turris goal? Maybe, but that’s modern goaltending; dare them to beat you high and Turris did that time.

Sounds like fans of both teams were complaining about officiating. My complaint isn’t so much what was called – you could call a lot of what the Wings were sent to the box for “cheap” but they were still the right call – but rather what wasn’t. Darren Helm seemed to take a shot high in the first period on a PK, that goes uncalled while they crack down on hooking? Overall, not a poorly called game, I hope that doesn’t get played up much ’cause I think it was mostly right.

That said, all those PKs the Wings had to go through (especially the five-on-three early) definitely kicked them into gear. Fantastic special teams effort tonight, scoring once on three PP chances and holding strong on six PKs.

So it’s one down, three to go. Worry about the second round if it happens. Easy to look ahead and feel good right now, we’ll see how it’s going Saturday afternoon.

Pregame Notes: Coyotes @ Red Wings – Game One

Let’s get this going, shall we?

What once was old is new again, as the Red Wings and the Coyotes meet in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive season. This time around, Detroit has home ice by virtue of the Western Conference’s third seed.

The Wings are the only team to have met Phoenix in the playoffs more than once, beating them in the 1998 Conference Semifinals and again in last season’s Conference Quarterfinals.

Of course, none of that history matters going into this series. You could argue that Detroit’s 2-1-1 record against the Coyotes this season means something, but given how inconsistently the Red Wings have played I’m not sure I’d even agree with that.

The way I see it, this series entirely depends on which Red Wings team shows up. Ilya Bryzgalov could steal the series, a goalie can always do that, but if the Detroit team that showed up in Chicago on Sunday is the one we see in the playoffs, Bryzgalov will have to steal the series for the Coyotes to advance. If the motivated, patient, focused Red Wings are what we see, they’re simply better than the Phoenix team.

That said, we could very well see the sloppy, lazy, disinterested Red Wings. If that’s the team that shows up, this is going to be a cake walk for the Coyotes.

Red Wings Down Blackhawks, Face Coyotes in Round One

The Detroit Red Wings closed out their regular season with a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday afternoon, setting them up for a first round playoff rematch with the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Red Wings and Coyotes met in the 2010 Western Conference Semifinals, a series Detroit won in seven games. The Wings are the only team to have played Phoenix more than once in the postseason, having also met them in the 1998 Conference Semifinals, winning that series in six games.

Detroit’s win put the Blackhawks’ postseason in doubt, as it wasn’t until the Dallas Stars lost to the Minnesota Wild Sunday night that Chicago clinched the eighth spot in the Western Conference and a matchup with the Vancouver Canucks.

The Blackhawks came out strong against Detroit with their season on the line, pressuring Detroit early in the first but coming out of the period in a 0-0 tie despite two power plays.

Michael Frolik opened the game’s scoring at 5:18 of the second, snapping a shot from the high slot past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard on a feed from Patrick Kane. The Red Wings had been prepared to clear the zone until Kane tripped up Brad Stuart in the corner and stole the puck.

Detroit responded just 1:38 later, when Tomas Holmstrom caught up with a loose puck in the neutral zone and jumped into the Chicago end, blasting a shot past Corey Crawford.

Pavel Datsyuk put the Wings in front 62 seconds after that. Datsyuk got the puck to Todd Bertuzzi along the right wing boards for a shot that was knocked down in front. Danny Cleary got to the loose puck and pushed it to Datsyuk in the right circle for a wrister past Crawford.

Drew Miller made it 3-1 at 1:56 of the third, driving to the net to tip the puck in when Valtteri Filppula threw it out front from the left corner.

Brent Seabrook pulled Chicago to back within a goal at 4:07, blasting a shot from the top of the right circle past Howard with former Red Wing Tomas Kopecky screening.

Cleary restored the two-goal lead at 8:11, flicking a shot from the slot past Crawford off of a feed from Bertuzzi.

With 8:38 remaining in regulation, Duncan Keith tracked down a rebound in front of the Detroit net and backhanded a shot over Howard to make it 4-3.

A late power play and an empty net for the extra attacker wouldn’t be enough for the Blackhawks as they failed to tie the game back up, outshooting Detroit 17-9 in the third period.

Chicago was held scoreless on three power play tries on the night, while Detroit did not get a chance with the extra attacker.

Howard finished the afternoon with 33 saves on 36 shots. Crawford stopped 27 of 31 chances.

The Red Wings are now off until they open their series against Phoenix on Wednesday.

Detroit was without Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Patrick Eaves on Sunday. Kronwall and Eaves are expected to be available to start the playoffs but Zetterberg’s status is uncertain.

Red Wings – Blackhawks Postgame Thoughts

Lots of post-game news coming in so I’ll stick mostly with my thoughts while everything gets sorted out.

The Red Wings were just surviving until Chicago opened the game’s scoring. Then it was like a switch was flipped. We’ve seen that switch flipped before – sometimes it’s just for a game and sometimes it’s for a playoff run. It’s good to see but it’s terrifying that it was necessary.

I said repeatedly that Pavel Datsyuk was outplaying Marian Hossa. Datsyuk had a hell of a game. It’s fantastic to see him back.

Jimmy Howard also had a fantastic game. Made 33 stops on the afternoon, including some spectacular stops. He appears to be back.

I loved the second line tonight, whether it was Valtteri Filppula or Justin Abdelkader centering Danny Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi. They were getting into the corners and moving the puck well. Sustained pressure in the Chicago zone combined with great passing from Bertuzzi caused Cleary’s eventual game-winner.

On the penalties… People seem to be up in arms over Abdelkader’s hit on Seabrook so I’ll say, fine, we’re even. Hit to Seabrook uncalled, stick to Franzen’s face uncalled. No, I’m not happy with how the penalties worked out but I love how the Detroit PK came to play.

Detroit moves on to face Phoenix in the first round. Not thrilled about the travel or that the Coyotes always play the Wings well. You don’t want to get caught trying to pick your poison in the playoffs, though. In all honesty, there was no one I wanted to have to play.

Dallas can make the playoffs and knock out the Blackhawks out with a win in regulation or OT tonight. I don’t think I’ll watch that one.

Red Wings – Blackhawks Postgame Thoughts

All I wanted from this game happened: The Red Wings got out of this one without any more injuries.

Yeah, it’d’ve been nice to get more than that. It’d be nice if the Wings had actually played well. They’re certainly not inspiring faith right now.

If they can turn it on for the playoffs, that doesn’t matter. If they can’t, they’re toast no matter how they play right now ’cause they haven’t been playing well for months.

Red Wings – Hurricanes Postgame Thoughts

I tweeted around the time of the second goal that the Red Wings looked like they spent the entire time from Henrik Zetterberg‘s injury to that point feeling bad for themselves. Unfortunately, that never actually ended.

Detroit played much of this game with no life. I’m amazed at how many shots they were credited with given that they never seemed to be getting any chances.

I can’t think of more than a time or two where the Wings had any sustained pressure. Even their big chances (two shots off the post in the second period) were pretty much one-and-done trips into the Carolina zone.

It’s understandable that with a playoff spot locked up Detroit is going to get outplayed by a Hurricanes team fighting for position but I’ll be damned if it’s not disappointing to see.

And, of course, the Zetterberg injury. They’re calling it “lower body” now but there was at least one report that it was a twisted ankle. That Zetterberg skated off under his own power should be a good sign but there aren’t a lot of games left for him to get healthy, if that’s what it’ll take.