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Wake up Call: Detroit Red Wings Take Command of Series with Game Five Win

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 23:  Head coach Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings coaches in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on April 23, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Thomas KnappContributor IApril 24, 2010

I'll admit, I was a bit nervous about this game.

While the Detroit Red Wings certainly had some momentum on their side after a very a strong Game Four performance, I wasn't sure that they'd maintain that intensity and high level play.

As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about.

For the second straight game, the Detroit Red Wings controlled their counterparts from Phoenix, taking a 4-1 win and a 3-2 series lead back to Detroit.

Jimmy Howard has certainly shaken off whatever was making him so tentative early in the series. Despite the shutout he had in Game Four, I honestly think this was his best game.

Outside of a sensational play by Ed Jovanowski, the Coyotes found themselves facing a wall when they took a shot on goal. Howard's exchange to stop not one, but two excellent shots by Hanzel completely turned the momentum of the game.

It's somewhat unfortunate that the Calder voting doesn't take the playoffs into account, because to see Howard in these last two games would demonstrate exactly why he deserves the honor.

The defense, much maligned through the first three games, also showed up in a very big way. Again, every entry into the zone was challenged, no play was given up on, and there was nary a clean shot to be had.

On offense, we saw more of the same. The strategy of keeping the pressure on the Coyotes, the Red Wings relying on their skill to break through one of the top defenses in the league once again worked brilliantly.  Taking their shots and keeping control of the puck yet again found cracks in which to score.

Phoenix will definitely put their best foot forward in Game Six, as unless his arm is about to fall off, Shane Doan will assuredly make his return. The Coyotes won't give up, as I don't think it's possible for them to quit.

But these last two games have demonstrated that when the Wings are playing their best game, the Coyotes simply do not have the raw talent to keep pace.

Now the Red Wings have a chance to close out a very strong opponent and move onto the next round.

See you all Sunday.

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