2011 NHL Playoff Predictions: Coyotes vs. Red Wings on the Eve of a Sweep

Michael MrockCorrespondent IApril 20, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 18:  (L-R) Jonathan Ericsson #52, Brian Rafalski #28, Tomas Holmstrom #96, Johan Franzen #93 and Pavel Datsyuk #13 of the Detroit Red Wings stand attended for the National Anthem before Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on April 18, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Red Wings defeated the Coyotes 4-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The performance by the Red Wings in Game 3 boggled the mind in that they would approach an opposition's ice and dominate it so well. 

Within the first three minutes, they already scored two goals. These goals by Ruslan Salei and Drew Miller made them the seventh and eighth different players to score for the Wings in this series. 

To score this fast on away ice and before the infamous "White Out" meant that the Wings are playing at such a level that they don't usually play at in the playoffs. 

It is not to say they haven't succeeded during the playoffs in the past, it is that they usually take a while to do so. Their normal pace is to take a whole series to warm up the engines and once they do get awake then they are victorious. However, these first two goals were not flukes. 

Salei's goal was a sweet shot a few feet within the blue line. Miller's follow-up only a few seconds later was on a redirect from Niklas Kronwall.  

The second period featured Valtteri Filppula scoring a goal to be the ninth different Red Wing to light the lamp, meaning they are averaging three different scorers per game. His goal was also a thing of beauty as he took the faceoff, passed it to Jiri Hudler, skated in front and slightly past of Bryzgalov before launching his first goal of the playoffs. 

Johan Franzen scored on a breakaway on a brilliant pass from Jonathan Ericsson in the third. He launched a missile nearly through Bryzgalov, which in itself is remarkable as he was listed as day to day due to the hit from Shane Doan in Game 2. 

Mike Modano was skating with the team in the warmup just in case. Franzen's head still showed the wounds of hitting the boards head first. 

Phoenix did counter with a goal by David Schlemko in the second period and a goal by former Red Wing Ray Whitney in the third. Both goals were on the power play, which is not a good sign as five of Phoenix's goals in the series have been on the power play, whereas Detroit has scored only three of its 12 goals on the power play. 

Considering the amount of penalties that Phoenix has received for its hits, Detroit should have a lot more goals.

The performance of Jimmy Howard and Ilya Bryzgalov has been nothing short of shocking. Howard is playing like a seasoned veteran who is stopping great shots with Jedi-like reflexes. He is not getting shutouts but he is not getting rattled. 

However, Bryzgalov is giving rebounds up before the shots are even fired. The goals have been from a wide variety of angles and so far by nine different Red Wings. This remarkable scoring has been done without Henrik Zetterberg and Mike Modano on the ice.

The best player on the ice in the series, however, has been Pavel Datsyuk. Without Zetterberg out there, Datsyuk has picked up his game in scoring two goals, assisting on three other goals for five points total. He has driven Phoenix with a clinic on puck control as he stops/starts/stops to nearly break a few Coyotes ankles. His hitting is also present to let the other team know he isn't backing down. 

The biggest concern in Game 4 for the Red Wings will have to do with Shane Doan. In Game 3, he took it upon himself to target Nicklas Lidstrom with his hitting.


Lidstrom doesn't usually get targeted by anyone, as he is regarded as hockey royalty. He is one of the all-time greats who don't play in a way to be targeted, as they are too respected.  

Still, many of the shots that Doan and Tyler Pyatt took on Lidstrom were getting a bit dangerous. For one, it looked like that they were trying to take a shot at him to injure him. The other thing is that hockey players have great memories. 

Even though Lidstrom is not known for his hitting, there are others on the Wings that are, which includes Todd Bertuzzi, Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm. Doan therefore becomes who they will focus many of their in-game introductions to. 

Another thing is that the refs have noticed what Doan is doing and he faced a few penalties for those hits from Game 3, which means the Wings will have to be careful that they don't get drawn into a trap to either face a game misconduct or a suspension. 

The best thing about the reality of a sweep is that the Wings will get a ton of rest. The only other team with three wins is top seed Vancouver and they lost to Chicago 7-2 on Tuesday night.

The second round won't start until all the series are done as the NHL reseeds the teams in the bracket. Such a large amount of rest will aid Zetterberg for his knee and Franzen for his face.   

There are rumors that if the Red Wings beat the Coyotes in Game 4 to complete the sweep that the Coyotes will be going back to Winnipeg to become the Jets. FOX Sports Detroit's broadcast brought up this fact and also aired footage of the last time the Jets played in Winnipeg before leaving for Arizona, which was a loss to the Red Wings.

The prediction for the game will be 4-1 Detroit to complete the sweep. Goals for Detroit will be two by Pavel Datsyuk and a goal each for Helm and Filppula. Radim Vrbata will get the lone goal for the Coyotes. 

An octopus will make it on the ice.