Phoenix Coyotes Vs. Detroit Red Wings: Series Preview

(Sports Network) - The Phoenix Coyotes halted a six-season playoff drought in 2010. Thanks to the Detroit Red Wings, the franchise is still looking for its first postseason series victory in 24 years.

The Coyotes will have revenge on their mind when they battle the Red Wings in the opening round for the second straight season. Phoenix made it to the second season for the first time since 2002 a year ago as the fourth seed, but dropped a 6-1 home decision in Game 7 to Detroit and lost for the 17th time in its 19 all-time playoff series dating back to the franchise's days in Winnipeg.

In fact, the club hasn't won a postseason series since the Jets bested Calgary in 1987 with a roster that featured the likes of Dale Hawerchuk, Brian Mullen, Dave Ellett and goaltender Pokey Reddick.

The Coyotes used 50 wins and 107 points -- both club records -- to claim home- ice advantage last year, but dipped to 43 wins and 99 points this season. A lack of offense could have had something to do with that as Phoenix ranked 15th with 231 goals and was tied for 23rd on the power play (15.9 percent).

While the 'Yotes didn't light the lamp at a blistering pace, they did display excellent depth. Shane Doan was the club's only 20-goal scorer, hitting the mark exactly, but 10 other skaters netted at least 10 tallies. Forwards Lee Stempniak, Lauri Korpikoski and Radim Vrbata all had 19 goals.

Doan also paced the Coyotes with 60 points and Ray Whitney was another constant points producer, ranking third on the club with 40 assists and 57 points.

Phoenix added to its depth towards the end of the regular season, getting center Martin Hanzal (16 goals) back after he missed a month of action with a lower-body injury.

Of course, Phoenix was able to sacrifice a bit of offense thanks to the season goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov had. He was among the league leaders in wins after going 36-20-10 with a 2.48 goals-against average and career-high tying .921 save percentage, and his seven shutouts in 68 games were just one off his career-best pace set last year.

The Coyotes don't get much offense from their blue line, but possible Norris Trophy candidate Keith Yandle ranked third in the NHL amongst blueliners with 59 points. Adrian Aucoin ranked second among Phoenix defenseman with 22 points.

Aucoin led the Coyotes with a plus-18 rating and is just one of the many steady performers on the roster, along with Rostislav Klesla and Derek Morris. That list also includes Ed Jovanovski, a 220-pound defender who played in Phoenix's final three games after being sidelined since mid-February with orbital bone fractures.

The Coyotes finished the season 10-3-3 following a five-game slide from Feb. 23-March 3 and ranked 13th in the NHL in goals allowed with 226.

Bryzgalov, meanwhile, may have to be Phoenix's best penalty killer after the club ranked 26th at just 78.4 percent.

MATCHUP

Similar to last year's playoff meeting, the 2010-11 season series was a tight matchup with each team winning twice. However, both of Detroit's victories came past regulation, while Phoenix also won a shootout over the Red Wings.

Lidstrom led all Detroit scorers with four assists and five points in this year's season series, while Zetterberg had a goal and four points. Howard started three of the games, posting a 2.21 GAA.

Datsyuk had five goals and eight points in last season's quarterfinals matchup, with Lidstrom turning in three goals and six points. Howard posted a 2.59 GAA in the series with a shutout.

Doan managed just one assist in three meetings this year and had a goal and a helper through the first three games of the postseason meeting before missing the final four contests with a separated shoulder. Hanzal had three goals in 2010-11 against the Red Wings, with Yandle and Korpikoski scoring twice each.

Bryzgalov struggled to a 3.43 GAA and .906 save percentage in last year's playoffs, but went 2-0-2 with a 2.64 GAA in the four meetings this season.

Detroit and Phoenix are meeting for the fourth time in the postseason, with the Red Wings winning each of the previous series.

Injuries certainly derailed the Red Wings for a bit last year, causing them to earn a lower seed than they probably deserved. They stayed healthy for the most part this season and that is why they are back among the Western Conference elite.

Phoenix gave Detroit all it could handle last season, but the Red Wings were clearly the better team. That also holds true this year as the Coyotes will need Bryzgalov to steal a game or two unless Detroit continues to struggle at home.

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