Game One: Postgame Notes

I can’t say I’ve ever seen a team win a game in which they gave up three power play goals, so Detroit probably didn’t deserve the win tonight. Say what you want about the officiating (and I will in a second) but the Wings’ PK absolutely failed them tonight. If a single penalty kill had been successful, we have a different outcome. And don’t talk to me about the fourth Phoenix power play, that wasn’t a successful kill, the Coyotes killed it by taking a penalty of their own.

A part of that is that the Red Wings lost several key faceoffs. The first and third Phoenix goals came directly off of a lost draw. That cannot continue.

One coaching complaint… When you know the team you’re facing is going to come out and literally hit you with all they’ve got, you put out a lineup that can counter that. I know the Red Wings are obsessed with having a right-handed forward on the point on the second power play unit but Jason Williams is not cutting it.

Williams should have been in the press box with Justin Abdelkader in the lineup. Abdelkader led the Red Wings in hits before being sent down to GR as a cap casualty. Throw him out there and give the Coyotes a taste of their own medicine.

As for the officiating, I won’t complain about what was called but two uncalled penalties really bothered me.

Over at A2Y someone posted that the Wings needed to do a better job of covering the point on the PK. On the game-winning goal, Derek Morris was left all alone to blast a shot past Jimmy Howard.

Why was he so alone? Not because Detroit was down a man but because the man who was supposed to be on Morris, Darren Helm, had been driven to the ice away from the puck by Shane Doan.

Doan knocks Helm down on the faceoff, Morris is left wide open, goal. Doan leaves Helm alone, Helm gets out to cover Morris. Maybe still a goal but that play never would have happened.

A blatant interference play going uncalled directly led to Morris’ goal, that’s unacceptable to me.

Also blatant: The uncalled high stick on Nicklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom takes a stick to the face that draws blood, with the puck still nearby, and no one was looking? Four officials and not a single one saw that? Again, unacceptable.

So I’m not happy about the game but there’s plenty of time for a turnaround. A Detroit win on Friday will mean the Wings have claimed home-ice in a five-game series. The pressure is on the Coyotes for these first two games, I don’t think they can play a game like they did tonight for every game of the series.

Power Play Goals Carry Coyotes Past Red Wings in Game One

The Phoenix Coyotes scored three times on the power play Wednesday night, providing all the offense they needed en route to a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings in Game One of their Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup.

Phoenix scored on three of their four total power plays. The fourth was shortened by the Coyotes taking a penalty of their own.

The Red Wings opened the scoring with 7:43 left in the first period when Tomas Holmstrom wristed a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle over the glove of Phoenix netminder Ilya Bryzgalov, who seemingly whiffed on the attempted save.

The Coyotes responded 1:56 later. Just nine seconds into a power play, Keith Yandle snapped a shot on net that redirected off of defenseman Brad Stuart‘s leg and past goaltender Jimmy Howard.

Detroit regained the lead with a power play goal of their own with 3:33 remaining in the period. Nicklas Lidstrom sent a slap shot from the blue line between four players’ legs on its way past Bryzgalov.

Wojtek Wolski one-timed a chance from the right faceoff circle past Howard at 6:15 of the second period for Phoenix’s second power play goal to tie the game.

Derek Morris scored just 2:19 into the third, putting the Coyotes in front. Matthew Lombardi won a faceoff in the left circle back to Morris at the blue line. Shane Doan knocked Darren Helm down away from the puck to give Morris a clear path to the top of the slot where he blasted a shot past Howard.

The Red Wings were unable to pull back even in the game’s closing minutes and the Coyotes held on to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

Howard made 32 saves on 35 Phoenix shots while Bryzgalov stopped 38 of 40 chances.

Game Two of the series will be Friday in Glendale.

Red Wings – Coyotes: Series Preview

It’s been a long regular season, an odd regular season for most Red Wings fans, but here we are on the opening day of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Six weeks ago the Red Wings were out of the playoffs. Today they’re the Western Conference’s fifth seed, with a record better than six of the eight playoff teams in the Eastern Conference (and only a point back of the New Jersey Devils). That jump came courtesy of a 16-3-2 run after the Olympic Break, including a stretch of twelve games in which they earned at least a point.

The Wings come into the playoffs on a roll but in an unfamiliar position. They haven’t started a postseason run on the road since 1991, when they were the Norris Division’s third seed facing the second-seeded St. Louis Blues. They lost that series, 4-3.

Detroit hasn’t been the lower-seeded team in any series since the 2000 Western Conference Semifinals, when the fourth-seeded Wings lost to the third-seeded Colorado Avalanche in five games.

Additionally, the Red Wings haven’t headed into a playoff riding a rookie goalie since 1994, when Chris Osgood took over for Bob Essensa as Detroit fell to the San Jose Sharks, 4-3, in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

While six weeks ago no one knew if the Red Wings would be in the playoffs today, a year ago no one knew if the Phoenix Coyotes would even exist right now.

The Coyotes are the NHL’s Cinderella story, finishing fourth in the Western Conference despite a year of ownership by the league itself after the team declared bankruptcy last spring.

Wayne Gretzky was replaced as head coach by Dave Tippett, the favorite to win the Jack Adams Trophy as the league’s best coach. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov had a Vezina Trophy-worthy season.

The Red Wings were unbeaten in regulation against the Coyotes this season, going 2-0-2. However all four of those games came while Detroit was battling injuries and before Phoenix added veteran depth at the trade deadline.

Detroit has added forwards Justin Abdelkader and Brad May back to their roster but head coach Mike Babcock won’t be making any lineup changes for tonight’s Game One, choosing to ride a winning lineup.

Phoenix, meanwhile, is expected to start the series without former Red Wing Robert Lang, out with an upper-body injury.

Game time tonight is 10:00 on FSD and Versus.

Red Wings – Coyotes First-Round Schedule Released

The National Hockey League released the first-round schedule for the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs Sunday night.

Despite the wishes of their coach and general manager, the Detroit Red Wings will open in Phoenix against the Coyotes on Wednesday, April 14.

The two teams will play again on Friday, April 16, in Phoenix before the series shifts to Detroit on Sunday, April 18.

The full schedule is as follows (all times Eastern):

April 14 – @ Phoenix – 10:00 PM (Versus)
April 16 – @ Phoenix – 10:00 PM (Versus)
April 18 – @ Detroit – 3:00 PM (NBC)
April 20 – @ Detroit- 6:30 PM (FSD)
April 23 – @ Phoenix – 10:00 PM (Versus)
April 25 – @ Detroit- 2:00 PM (NBC)
April 27 – @ Phoenix – TBD (FSD)

Red Wings to Face Coyotes in Western Conference Quarterfinals

The Detroit Red Wings’ 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday afternoon moved them into fifth place in the Western Conference standings and locked them into a first-round matchup with the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Coyotes finished fourth in the conference and will be making their first playoff appearance since 2002, when they were eliminated in the first round by the San Jose Sharks.

The Los Angeles Kings had briefly taken over fifth place in the conference after a 2-1 overtime win over the Colorado Avalanche. They drop to sixth place to face the Vancouver Canucks.

The Blackhawks, failing to earn two points, remain in second place and will host the Nashville Predators. The San Jose Sharks are the conference’s top team and will host Colorado.

The Red Wings and Coyotes have met in the playoffs once before, with the Wings winning the 1998 Western Conference Quarterfinals four game to two.