For the past few years, the Phoenix Coyotes seem to surprise the Western Conference. They were bankrupted, but despite being in a financial mess they seem to rally together and have made the playoffs. Since Dave Tippett took over as head coach, he has not only rallied the team but the City itself.
On paper the Coyotes put up respectable numbers but not enough to go deep in the playoffs but this year may be different. The Red Wings have been playing sloppy this year. They had their fair share of injuries but their performance going into the playoffs has been mediocre at best.
The Wings will have to fight to make it to the second round. Phoenix plays a physical game and Detroit has always struggled against physical teams. In the past, Phoenix almost defeated the Wings back in 1998 and 2010. Teams who play a more physical game, have stopped Detroit in recent years past (Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers).
Both teams will be starting the Playoffs with injuries. Detroit will be without superstar Henrik Zetterberg. He is out with a lower-body injury, however, they will have Niklas Kronwall back in the lineup. Phoenix will be without defenseman Derek Morris. Morris is out with a upper-body injury.
The Wings will have to depend on their goalie Jimmy Howard and he has little playoff experience. His GAA for the season is 2.79. Last year he had a 2.29. Howard is not the greatest goalie and Phoenix will test his ability. The Wings have not won the Cup with a goaltender with his numbers.
Phoenix will have to depend on their forwards. Detroit has been weak on the power play. If their physical presence leaves Detroit frustrated, they maybe able to cause some penalties allowing for some goals.
For the first time in a long time Detroit will be entering the Playoffs as the underdog. On paper they are not expected to win the Cup; but are expected to make it past the first round, however, with the injury of Zetterberg along with the lack luster play of Howard the Coyotes maybe able to win a few games. Phoenix will win a few games, but just like in 1998, Detroit should win.
Prediction: Detroit in six games.