So, at 2-2 in games following a 3-0 Detroit victory over Phoenix in Hockeytown, are the Wings finally in charge of this opening round Stanley Cup series?
I can see three equally possible scenarios:
With the series down to a best-of-three with two of the games in Phoenix, if Home Ice Rules, the Coyotes win in seven. Of course, home ice hasn’t ruled; both teams have a win in the other’s building.
Then there’s the Hockeytown Special: The Wings win in Phoenix Friday and at home on Sunday to win in six.
And then there’s looking at Tuesday’s shutout as the Wings’ Last Hurrah: The Coyotes win at home and win the series in Hockeytown. This one scares me. The Coyotes play like hungry dogs. They lack the Wings’ star power, know it and play with the kind of desperation that trumps talent in the playoffs.
Two of these three scenarios favor the Coyotes; the series is best two-out-of-three now. Will the Wings’ talent trump the Coyotes’ hunger? You won’t find the answers here. We’ll see them on the ice.
What I liked about the game: Quite a bit, really. Joe Louis Arena was noisy. The crowd helped because the Wings helped the crowd by playing well. The Wings hung in there. They killed six more power plays and have not given up an extra-strength goal since the three in the first game. Five of the last six penalties in the game were against Detroit; the Wings had to kill back-to-back penalties at 10:20 and 12:02 of the third period, which means they played 18 seconds down two men (AND lost the faceoff in their own zone to start those 18 seconds).
So, three things won this game: penalty killing; goalie Jimmy Howard, who made 29 saves; and the Wings best two players scored. Henrik Zetterberg scored the first (at 15:33 of the second period) and third goals of the game; he now has five goals in the series. Pavel Datsyuk scored the killer second goal after the Wings killed off the back-to-back penalties.
What I did’t like about the game: Faceoffs continue to be a concern. The Coyotes dominated the first period 20-7, yet the Wings finished with a 31-30 advantage, 24-11 in the last two periods. Also: The Wings continue to chase the pucks for shifts on end at times. The Coyotes really move the puck well. And you can expect to see more of that on Friday.
Also: Even without their best player, Shane Doan, the Coyotes were in this game until the final five minutes.
The BIG question: The three scenarios at the top of this posting.
Quote: “They were a very determined team without a doubt.” — Phoenix coach Dave Tippett
Mood meter: Trepidation.