NHL Playoffs 2011: The Red Wings and Coyotes: The Howl in the Desert

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NHL Playoffs 2011: The Red Wings and Coyotes: The Howl in the Desert
Dave Sandford/Getty Images

Tonight's game three matchup of the Red Wings and Coyotes will prove who truly has the edge in the series. It is easy to win on your own ice. However, to be able to take out the opposition on their ice after a long plane ride is a whole other experience. The Canucks already proved that this Sunday winning against the Blackhawks 3-2 at the United Center. They are now up 3-0 and are on pace to sweep the defending champs in Chicago.

Detroit still has the edge this series in the depth and goalie departments. Detroit has scored eight goals to Phoenix's five. Jimmy Howard has showed a veteran's poise between the pipes whereas Ilya Byrzgalov looks rattled against the onslaught of Pavel Datsyuk and the Wings. The Wings are getting goals from a host of angles and scorers. Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Brian Rafalski, Jiri Hudler, Darren Helm and Tomas Holmstrom have lit the lamp for the Wings without Mike Modano in the lineup. Only Kyle Turis, Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan have done the same for the Coyotes.

The only place where Phoenix has shown a presence is in the physical department.  Doan's hit on Franzen in the first period of game two took him out for about a period. When Franzen returned, he looked like he got into a fight with an actual Coyote.  It's not to say that Detroit is just laying down. Datsyuk, Helm, Justin Abdelkader and Todd Bertuzzi have also brought a physical style which is why both teams were nursing bruises on their flights to Glendale. 

Dave Sandford/Getty Images

Monday night's game will be before a packed house in Phoenix, where Coyote fans will bring out their "White Out" to show their loyalty. However, Detroit has faced the Coyotes before in the playoffs so they won't get intimidated. Instead they will be honored that the Coyotes' fans cared enough to make it interesting.  

The X-factor will be Doan for both sides of the ice. For the Wings, they will have to be aware of No. 19 when he is on the ice. Although he gave Franzen quite a licking when he knocked him out in the first period of game two, he continued to focus on Franzen by going after the bandage job to remind him this is the playoffs.

Bertuzzi, Abdelkader or Helm will have to introduce themselves to the Phoenix captain at some point tonight. On the Phoenix side, Doan will have to keep his teammates from getting too discouraged from being behind 0-2. His physical play plus his scoring touch will be their spark in preventing the likelihood of a sweep in the desert.  

This is the game that Phoenix truly has to win or the Detroit juggernaut will likely leave the desert to play in the second round. Therefore, the prediction for this game is 2-1 Coyotes. The two Coyotes' goals will be from Doan and Ray Whitney whereas Nicklas Lidstrom will get the lone goal for the Wings. No octopus will make it on the ice as the Arizona heat will make it smell too bad for it to be sneaked in.

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