2011 NHL Playoffs: Phoenix Coyotes Face Uphill Battle To Advance

Mark BrownContributor IApril 18, 2011

Ilya Bryzgalov has allowed eight goals in the Coyotes' first two playoff games.
Ilya Bryzgalov has allowed eight goals in the Coyotes' first two playoff games.Dave Sandford/Getty Images

Down, but not out.

That's how the Phoenix Coyotes look at his current plight in the NHL's Western Conference quarterfinal round with the Detroit Red Wings

Down 2-0 in the series, the Coyotes fell behind in both Games 1 and 2 early, and could not recover.

Their fate in Game 1 was likely sealed early. Here, they grabbed a quick 1-0 lead on Kyle Turris' first Stanley Cup playoff goal just 2:16 into the match and did not capitalize on power play opportunities in the opening session.

Failing to score with a five-on-three advantage early, the Coyotes let what little momentum they gathered fade.

A similar fate awaited in Game 2. Falling behind 4-0, their valiant comeback, with two third-period power play goals, fell just short in a 4-3 defeat.

Now they return to the desert in desperate search of a win.

"Maybe our heads early (in Game 2) didn't get into it," defenseman Keith Yandle told The Arizona Republic.

"We just have to play like we did in the third period, and we'll be okay."

Two fear factors came to life in the first two games at Joe Louis Arena, and likely haunted the Coyotes.

First, the Wings' Pavel Datsyuk scored a goal in each game and dazzled with strong stick work.

Then, Johan Franzen, whom the Wings thought disappeared late in the regular season, scored the go-ahead goal in Game 1, leveled spirited checks and took a bloody upper lip, as a battle scar, in Game 2.

Franzen had to come alive, was the media consensus prior to the start of the series and so far, his presence is quite noticeable.

"There's a scenario where you a player that's dynamic on both sides of the puck," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett told The Arizona Republic, referring to Datsyuk.

"You really have to to have a mindset as a group to play against him."

One of the fear factors the Coyotes will not worry about is Henrik Zetterberg. The lethal Zetterberg is out of Game 3, Detroit coach Mike Babcok told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun Sunday after the Wings practice in suburban Scottsdale.

The Wings report no further injuries and should skate a full contingent in Game 3.


Ice Chips

Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski suffered an upper body injury late in Game 2, and did not return. He is listed a day-to-day and his status for Game 3 is a game-time decision.

The first round of the 2010 playoffs featured these two teams. Phoenix won the opening game 3-2 and the Wings came back to take Game 2, 4-2 at Jobing.com Arena.

Then, the Coyotes won Game 3, 4-2, at Joe Louis but dropped two straight to go down 3-2 in the series. They managed to pull out a dramatic 5-2 win at Joe Louis in Game 6, but were hammered 6-1 in Game 7 at Jobing.com.

When dropping the first two games in any playoff series, either in Winnipeg or Phoenix, the franchise has never advanced in the playoffs.

Going back to 1982, their first playoff season, Winnipeg advanced only twice, in 1985 and in 1987, to the second round.

The Phoenix portion of the franchise has not advanced to the second round, and reached the seventh game only five times in 11 opening playoff rounds since 1987.