While two games does not make a series, the Wings have learned several things during the series so far.
After sweeping the first two games at home, the series will now head to Phoenix on Monday night. Will they be able to keep up the pace of the first two games? They have proven to be a strong road team throughout the season—will that continue as they invade Phoenix?
Pavel Datsyuk is crazy good.
This is not a surprise to Hockeytown fans—as they already know this—but when you watch the same player for so long you tend to take them for granted. While there may be better scorers or harder shooters in the league, there in nobody who can match his puck handling skills.
Whether it is deftly weaving through the opposition, spinning them in circles as they try to keep up or his amazing puck stealing ability, Datsyuk is a magician on ice.
While racing in for a shot during game two, the defender was able to cut off the passing lane and eliminate a good shooting angle. Most players would have just blasted one into the goalie, thus ending any real scoring chance. Not Datsyuk, instead he takes the puck between his legs and shoots it from there.
While he didn’t score, he was able to increase his angle, which meant the goalie had to cover more room. The result was a long rebound that teammate Darren Helm was easily able to score on.
Watching the video you see that the play starts with a smart poke at the puck that starts the whole run.
Jimmy Howard might just be OK.
Playing goalie in Detroit is one of the hardest jobs in sports. Howard had a good regular season but not as good as last year as he fought through some inconsistent play.
His performance in Game 1 kept the Wings in the game. After spending the first period of the game fighting off several penalties, including a prolonged five on three, Howard was able to hold the Coyotes to only one goal.
In game two, Howard played well in helping the Wings score the first four goals of the game. A soft penalty killing unit allowed the Coyotes to get back in the game by scoring three goals. Howard will need to hold up better, especially on penalty kills.
Howard's play was a concern entering the post season. While not out of this world, he has been very solid. If he continues the Wings will be in good shape.
After holding the Coyotes scoreless on six power plays in the first game, the flood gates opened in Game 2.
The Coyotes went three for seven on the power play in that game. What makes this more of a concern is that Phoenix had one of the weakest power play units during the regular season with only a 15.9% success rate.
The Wings need to tighten up their penalty kill, not only for this series, but for success in future series' as well.
Zetterberg has been the team MVP this season.
While other players went down due to injuries during the season, Zetterberg not only kept playing, but also picked up an extra load. In the last week of the season, he succumbed to the injury bug. As long as the Wings keep winning then Zetterberg needs to sit and heel.
At this point, even a Game 3 loss should not rush his return. The playoffs are a marathon and they will need him healthy for the long haul.
His pre-game skate on Sunday didn't goal well as Zetterberg was seen skating gingerly off the ice following his workout. The more time the Wings can allow him to rest the better it will be for him.
At full strength the Coyotes simply cannot stay with the Wings, and they know this.
The strategy was evident in Game 1 of the series as they were able to force the Wings to take four penalties in the first period alone. The Coyotes had already scored and, playing a man down for long periods, they kept the Wings on their heels.
Once they gathered themselves, the Wings came out in the second period playing smarter and jumped to a 3-1 lead by the end of the period.
The Wings need to continue that smart play as the series now turns to Phoenix.
So how long did your heart stop when Franzen went into the boards?
With Zetterberg already out due to injury, the Wings not only need to finish the Coyotes off early, but they need to do so while remaining healthy. They have spent much of the last two seasons plagued by injuries, perhaps it is payback so many years of relatively good health.
Regardless, they need to finish this series quickly to allow Franzen, Zetterberg and others ample time to heal.
The Wings finished with five more road wins than home wins this year. They ended the year only winning two of their last seven home games. A strong start to the series is always important, but recapturing their ability to play well at home and turn that back into a major advantage again is also important.
In five of the six periods so far they have been able to play strong on their home ice. The final period of Game 2 saw a penalty fed comeback by the Coyotes. If the series returns to Detroit it will be interesting to see if that gives the Coyotes more confidence or if it angered the Wings enough to hold court.