Posts Tagged ‘Phoenix Coyotes’

Game Seven

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

The following quote is from an article in the Arizona Republic. The sports writer is Dan Bickley:

” In one pivotal moment, Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom badly fooled the referee, clutching Adrian Aucoin by the jersey, and then falling backward to the ice. It was the worst kind of dive, the kind of tomfoolery you expect in the NBA, from players like Bruce Bowen or Dennis Rodman. It was cheap and cowardly and bogus hockey. Naturally, it led to a Red Wings goal that sealed the night.”

Mr. Bickley is certainly entitled to express his opinion regarding the officiating during game 7, but he evidently missed the “cheap and cowardly” act that Keith Yandle pulled on Henrik Zetterberg following the Brad Stuart goal at the end of the 2nd period. Check the video link above. Watch closely in the replay from behind the goalie and you will see the goal, and then Z raises his arms, starts to skate behind the net and then Yandle slashes/trips Z and he crashes into the end boards. Bickley can call Holmstrom’s action “tomfoolery” if he wants to and to me that implies the boys just having some fun. What Yandle did borders on intent to injure and gross misconduct.

Regarding my gaurantee in an earlier post that game seven would not be a lopsided game: I was wrong. But, with the exception of the 2nd period, the game was relatively close.

Let’s move on to San Jose and see what happens.

The Full 60 Minutes

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Photo: Emmanuel Lozano / Arizona Republic

“That’s how it supposed to be,” Babcock said. “Our big guys were fantastic today. They really came to play. To be successful this time of year, that’s what you need.”

Well, alright! That’s how hockey is supposed to be played. Come out passing tape-to-tape and shootin’ ‘em up good. Shut down the opponent. Don’t even let them touch the puck. And when they do manage to get their sticks on it, take it right back, pass it up the ice, and score another goal. And then keep doing it for 60 minutes.

It was great to see almost everyone chipping in, and with so many highlights, it’s hard to pick a defining moment in the game. Was it Stuart’s incredible breakaway goal to put an end to the 5 on 3 momentum the ‘Yotes had built up? What about Helm’s breakaway opportunity that led to a penalty that led to a Datsyuk breakaway tally? And speaking of Helm, it’s worth noting that both he, Abdelkader and Draper really brought it to the ‘Yotes. It’s one thing to have to face folks like Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Franzen on the top end, but then to have to match the grit of Helm and Abdelkader working under the tutelage of Kris Draper, well, that’s just unfortunate. Back to the highlights: how about Lidstrom getting two goals? Or the rock solid goaltending by Howard, who, it’s worth noting, looked crisp right out the gate. Yeah, too many great moments.

And so it went, for a full 60 glorious playoff minutes on Tuesday night in Phoenix — or is it Glendale… oh, who cares?! The captainless Coyotes looked like a pee wee team trying to feel it out in the season’s first scrimmage. Unfortunately, that scrimmage was actually a game seven against a team that won the Cup two years ago and came within inches of winning it again last year. The ‘Yotes’ recent record? Well, let’s just say a first-round loss is an improvement.

Snarkiness aside, the Coyotes proved themselves worthy opponents who played with a lot of heart and vigor, especially considering the absence of their “emotional leader” Shane Doan. Kris noted after a couple games that the ‘Yotes had probably pulled out all their tricks, while the Wings, at best, looked like they were just getting warmed up or, at worst, looked like they could care less. And at times it appeared the ‘Yotes did have the Wings’ number (Game 6 anyone?), but the Wings were able to turn it up when it counted and the ‘Yotes couldn’t match them. Now it’s time to move on, and on that note I think Dad put it best below:

Thanks for some great games, and an entertaining first round series, Yotes. The Wings are moving on to the second round and probably further.

P.S. For a more gracious post-mortem, head over to the Freep where Dan Bickley sums it all up very nicely.

The Next Day

Monday, April 26th, 2010

It’s taken over 24 hours but I think I can rationally discuss the Wings disgusting 5-2 loss to the Coyotes on Sunday afternoon at the Joe. The bottom line: The Wings are no longer an elite NHL team but rather they have established themselves as an average team. An average team capable of winning when required and just as capable as stinking up any arena in the league when there is no urgency.

There was urgency at the end of the regular season when the Wings were faced with missing the playoffs and they strung together an impressive run after the Olympic break to move up the standings from 9th to 5th and earn an historic 19th (or is it 20th?) consecutive playoff berth. We know the team has talent and they have nearly unequaled playoff experience. We know the Wings have great leadership on the ice and behind the bench and in the front office. We know the Wings can beat the Coyotes, but, it appears that the Wings aren’t convinced they can beat the Coyotes.

Whether it’s round one, or the Stanley Cup finals, a 7th game is the ultimate in the NHL. Tuesday night in Glendale, AZ, the Coyotes and the Wings will battle for the right to move on to the second round. I can gaurantee you game 7 will not be a lopsided game and as the Red Wing television color analyst Mickey Redmond says, “it will be no place for a nervous person.”

Game six didn’t really tell us anything about either team. Yes, the Coyotes took it to the Wings and played with passion and desperation. But the Coyotes will see a level of passion and desperation from the Wings on Tuesday night that will be difficult to control, or match, because the Wings have been in these type of games before and in most instances experience will overcome a shear desire to win.

Thanks for some great games, and an entertaining first round series, Yotes. The Wings are moving on to the second round and probably further.

Babcock’s Blizzard = Red Wing Win

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

As Rob blogged below, Mike Babcock revealed before game four that he had been too busy with travel and preparation to get his haircut and take his family out for a DQ Blizzard and that was the reason for the lackluster performance by the Wings so far in the playoffs. Apparently, the haircut and the Blizzard is a playoff tradition (superstition) for the Red Wing headcoach.

With a fresh trim and a Blizzard in his tummy, Babcock was focused on game 4 and the Wings responded with a big win to tie the series at 2 games each.

I don’t know if Jimmy Howard got a trim and a Blizzard before game four but he played like a veteran playoff goalie. Turning away all 29 Coyote shots earned Jimmy his first playoff shut-out and a huge win for the Wings.

But Jimmy had some help, too. Henrik Zetterberg scored twice and Pavel Datsyuk once to keep the Wings in the series. We need 13 and 40 to continue to produce at this level in order to move on to the next round.

I’m beginning to wonder if Tomas Holmstrom might be injured. The good news is, so far the Wings have been able to score and win a couple of games without Holmstrom. Holmstrom has 1 goal and 1 assist in four games and a total of 8 shots. In game four he was only on the ice for 8:18 compared to 18:36 in game one and 14 minutes and change in both game two and three. Also, he only has one penalty (goalie interference) in four games. Homer is supposed to have his rearend in the goalies face and if he were on his game he would be more evident in the boxscore, whether it’s penalties, goals or assists.

Stop at the first DQ in Glendale, AZ Mr. Babcock and bring the Wings back to Hockeytown up 3-2.

Game 3 Re-cap + Looking Forward

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Like I said below, it’s taken me a couple days to muster up the energy to think about what happened in game 3. It was a game that the Wings easily could have won, if only they could have matched the energy of the ‘Yotes. The contrast is apparent when you compare the excitement that oozes from the ‘Yotes after every goal. Their jumping and fist pumping bothered me at first. It didn’t seem like a first period goal to go up 1-0 was worth the third overtime sudden death goal celebrations they were bringing to the game. But when compared with the Wings — who maybe crack a smile and bump gloves for a minute before skating back to center ice for the next faceoff — the ‘Yotes definitely appear to be the team that want this more than the Wings. The Wings, at times, appear to be the team that feels entitled to be playing the game. Not a pretty site, especially when they are behind in the series.

So what do they need to do to win game four? Besides the obvious (scoring goals, blocking shots), the Wings need to bring some serious energy to the ice. They need to overwhelm the upstart ‘Yotes with all this playoff experience that everybody is goin’ on about, because, well, experience doesn’t amount to jack if you don’t apply it to win games.

Which brings me to a delicate topic: The Wings’ playoff wild card, Jimmy Howard. Prevailing opinion going in held that the experience on the ice in front of Howard would mitigate his rookie status. Thus far, with experience amounting to little more than entitlement in two of three games, Howard has looked shaky at best. The fourth goal he gave up in game three was a must-stop puck, especially as the Wings’ were just regaining momentum after pulling within one point. His body language said it all when he realized he was beat. He lay down and let his head fall to the ice. A thought must have crossed the collective mind of the ‘Yotes: Perhaps we’re starting to break this guy down, we might just have his number. Thankfully, Howard was able to pull it together and not let any more get by him, but the damage was done. I still believe in Howard, and I know if he can find the groove he was in for the last quarter of the season, nobody is going to beat us. But it’s going to take a full team effort for a full 60 minutes for that to be possible. It’s going to take some excitement and enough energy to overwhelm the ‘Yotes.

After the fourth goal, the announcers were talking about how the ‘Yotes had “answered” well all yea. So far they’ve continued to step up when challenged in the playoffs — much like an experienced team would.

The Wings: Love to hate ‘em

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

So it turns out Shane Doan’s dislike of the Red Wings runs deeper than his perceived snub by Babcock and Yzerman, who didn’t think he was Team Canada material. He’s been waiting for this for 14 years.

The Freep reports:

The three played on the same line in 2003, though Draper remembered that “the first couple of days, he wasn’t spending a lot of time between Malts and I, and then as the tournament went on, he’s the one who brought it up and we did laugh about that.”

Here’s Doan: “I remember saying at the time that I liked not liking them. I really liked not liking them.”

Doan noted since the first time they met 14 years ago in the playoffs, Draper and Maltby (who is injured) have had plenty to laugh about.

“I think they’ve won three or four Cups since then,” Doan said. “I haven’t gotten out of the first round of the playoffs. Obviously for them, it’s been good.”

Draper’s response in the Detroit News is classic:

“That year (referring to the 2003 World Championships), when Malts and I walked into that dressing room, there weren’t too many people, number one, who wanted to sit beside us and, number two, who wanted to play with us. We took that as a compliment.”

“Yeah, now here we are in a playoff series and you want to build up that hatred for your opponent,” Draper said. “He certainly set the tone for that the other night. Now we have to respond.”

Stay classy, Shane.

Photo by Elliot.

Curly Fries in the Desert

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Well, how do you like that, Phoenix? Unfortunately, I missed the game because I had tickets to see Pharaoh Sanders at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. It was a very meditative performance, and so my mind definitely wandered around to the game. Luckily I was able to check the score on the phone throughout the show. When Pharaoh took the stage for his second set, I knew the Wings had a 4-3 lead and so I tried to put the game out of my mind and focus on the music. Of course, that didn’t’ happen, and I was absolutely incredulous when I checked a final time and saw that the Wings won 7-4. I had to look at the screen twice to be sure.

Now looking back at the highlights online, it appears both teams were playing off-the-hinges. Old Bryz-ie hadn’t given up 7 goals in one game all season. Let’s hope this flury of goals is in his mind as he suits up at the Joe on Sunday for his first road game of this year’s playoffs. Simiarly, the Wings — who spent a good chunk of the regular season wishing you could buy goals, or at least buy them back from refs who kept taking them away — hadn’t scored 7 goals in a game since the November 14 7-4 win over the Ducks. I know in the end it doesn’t matter how you win, it only matters that you win, but when you score 7 goals at home on a goaltender that everyone is holding up as a diety, well, that feels pretty good. Gotta love the hats on the ice at Arena (side rant: am I the only one that thinks “” and “arena” shouldn’t be in the same sentence? And shouldn’t “jobing” with one “b” be pronounced “joe-bing”? I digress). It was great to see Bertuzzi chipping in with some brawn and Abdelkader paying immediate dividends upon his return.

Here’s a nice little video reminder of Zetterberg’s outstanding, curly-fry worthy performance. Watch for the hats at the end and remember: scoring a hat trick sends the message loud and clear. Now, do they have Arby’s in Phoenix?

Please welcome Justin Abdelkader back to the ice

Friday, April 16th, 2010

The loss on Wednesday didn’t sting as badly as I expected. The Phoenix Coyotes, for all their success this past season, are still a bankrupt ward of the NHL with a lot to prove. And this was just one game. More than any other team in the NHL, the Wings have shown over the course of this season that they are fully capable of winning when it counts, even when everyone else is betting against them. This series is no exception. So don’t fret. Don’t jump to conclusions.

Put aside the seriously flukey three power play goals the Coyotes scored against one of the better penalty killing machines in the NHL, after going  82 power plays without scoring goal. That won’t happen again. And put aside the third period, where it looked like the Wings were happy just to chip the puck in Brzygalov’s general direction and then set up to chase the ‘Yotes back down towards Jimmy Howard. It was a momentum thing, and it’s not something that can be maintained over the course of a best of seven series.

That said, the Wings have some adjusting to do. I was happy to hear that the sadly ineffectual Jason Williams was sidelined to make room for Justin Abdelkader. He was a welcome presence in the playoffs last year as well as during the darker hours of the Wings’ injury-ridden 2009-2010 season. If all goes as planned, his hard-hitting style will balance out some of the Coyotes aggressive tendencies. I say “some” because playing rough for the sake of “sending a message” just isn’t in the Wings’ DNA, and I believe they are a better team for it. Shane Doan, Niklas Lidstrom you are not.

My best guess is that the Wings have filed away game one in the same mental drawer where they keep their pre-Olympic 2009-2010 season. Game two is going to give us a look at a revitalized Detroit Red Wings. Which doesn’t bode well for their upstart opponents. Let’s hope the ‘Yotes haven’t gotten too used to the taste of victory. Go Wings!

Photo by Michael Righi.

First Period Game One

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Strong first period for both teams but the Wings come out with a 2-1 lead. Brad Stuart was instrumental for both teams. He had a shot that hit a post, he saved a goal and then the Phoenix goal deflected off his skate into the net.

The Wings had a minor lapse in the middle of the period but then Holmstrom scored from almost the blue line (instead of the goal line) and things turned around momentarily.

Bertuzzi, Filpula, Zetterberg and Howard all had a strong first period for Detroit.

Shane Doan is a wildman. The Wings might want to consider inserting Brad May for game two, regardless of the outcome of game one, to keep Doan in check.

Ken Daniels, the Red Wings television play-by-play announcer, mentioned that the league has informed teams and GM’s to “stay out of the crease” or penalties will be called. Phoenix had a goalie interference penalty in the 1st period that probaly wouldn’t have been called in the regular season but it looked like Brad Stuart pushed the Phoenix player into the crease.

End of first it’s 2-1 Wings and a very exciting game.

Wings at Coyotes Game 1

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Looking at the goaltending stats and it looks pretty even. Bryzgalov has the edge in wins (40) and shut outs (8) but Howard has an edge in save percentage (.926) and GAA (2.26). It looks like these two goalies are evenly matched.

The Coyotes have a couple of former Red Wing defensemen in Mathieu Schneider and Anders Eriksson. Eriksson was a first round draft pick by the Red Wings in 1993. Overall, Detroit has the edge defensively with Lidstrom, Stuart and Rafalski.

Upfront looks pretty even, too. Although it is difficult to completely assess the Wing’s scoring capabilities because they had so many injuries early in the season. The stats seem incomplete on Detroit’s side due to the amount of games missed by Holmstrom, Franzen, Zetterberg, Cleary and others during the regular season. The good news is the Wings finished the regular season with a flury and have great momentum heading into the first playoff game tonight.

A win on the road in the first game would be a great start for the Wings. Puck drops @ 10pm Eastern.