Well, tonight's game of the night is by default. The Red Wings and Coyotes are the only teams that play tonight, so I guess I have to give them game of the night honors. Don't get me wrong, this game should be very entertaining. Any time two teams play each other in the playoffs, a rivalry is born and it's not different for these two. Last year the Red Wings ousted the Coyotes out of the Playoffs despite the Coyotes having the higher seed and are looking to get them back for it this year. This is the third meeting between the two already this season. The Red Wings got the better of the Dogs in the first meeting on October 16th, getting a 2-1 victory in overtime. The Desert Dogs showed up to play in the second game between the two on October 28th, beating the Wings 4-2.
Ed Jovanovski leads the Coyotes in points with 9, 3 G 6 A, his only three goals coming in a hat trick effort against Nashville last week. Radim Vrbata and Lee Stempniak lead Phoenix in goals with four each. Five players are tied with three including Scottie Upshall (for all you Flyers fans out there) and Kyle Turris. It's safe to say that they aren't the best offensive team in the league. Phoenix is struggling this year, currently sitting in 14th place in the Western Conference. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov is having a decent year, by no means anywhere close to some of his past seasons where his play has given him all-star consideration. He's currently 4-2-4 with a 2.83 GAA and a .916. For the third time this season, the Coyotes will be without Captain Shane Doan to lead them on the ice.
[caption id="attachment_209" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Pavel Datysuk and his Red Wings face the stumbling Coyotes in the only game tonight"][/caption]
The Red Wings on the other hand are surging. They currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference and a win tonight moves them within one point of catching the red-hot Blues (or are they blue-hot?) Despite a bad loss in Vancouver on Saturday they won the previous three, losing the Coyotes prior to that streak. Who else but Pavel Datsyuk would be leading the Red Wings. In 12 games he is tied with Johan Franzen for team lead with 6 goals. Datsyuk is tied with the team lead in points with fellow superstars Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom with 14 points. Jimmy Howard has been given the reins in net again this year and is not disappointing. He is 6-1-1 this season and had a streak of 22 straight games of getting his team at least a point, during which he was 19-0-3.
I would say the Red Wings are clearly the better team in this one and look for them to get a healthy 4-1 win tonight, dominating the Coyotes up and down the ice. They’ll be looking to play a lot better after giving up a third period lead against the Canucks this past Saturday.