NHL Playoffs 2011: The Red Wings vs. Coyotes; Swept to the Second Round
The concept of this year's Red Wings sweeping the Coyotes goes unmeasured when compared to their championship teams of years past. This is only the first round matchup of the playoffs to end in a sweep.
The top-seeded Canucks in the West and the second seed Flyers in the East are going to seventh games to decide their series. Both these series are quite remarkable as Vancouver had a 3-0 advantage on Chicago, whereas Philly and Buffalo had five of the six games decided by one goal. Therefore it is safe to say the Wings got lucky in their matchup with the Coyotes.
The Wings were not perfect in their execution of this sweep. Perfection would have featured shut-outs in at least some of the games. Detroit's Achilles' heel was their power play performance. The Wings only scored four of their 18 total goals on the power play, whereas Phoenix scored six of their nine goals on the power play.
Also Detroit only scored four power play goals with 19 power plays, which works out to 21 percent. Phoenix scored six goals on 21 possible power play situations, which is slightly better at 29 percent.
However for Detroit to have 21 players in the penalty box in only four games is no laughing matter. The discipline will have to improve to prevent penalties, and the line matchups for both on the power play and killing the opposing power play will have to pick it up. Having Zetterberg and Franzen back will help the team improve their chances in both of these situations.
The fact that 13 different players from the Red Wings scored goals in the sweep means that Detroit has not had their sorta-traditional style of going flat in a playoff round. Even in the 2001-2002 season in which they had Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille and Chris Chelios on the roster, they still needed six games to take out the Canucks in the first round—a first-round series in which Detroit lost the first two games at home when they were the President's Trophy winner for the regular season.
This year's first-round series instead was a clinic in depth as it wasn't up to Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen to do all the scoring. No one needed to carry games on their back. This still didn't stop Datsyuk from demonstrating some of his trademark stick-handling skills.
The Wings' first-round series was also the only playoff series this year not to have an OT game, so the players didn't have log an excessive amount of minutes. The FoxSports Detroit broadcast team of Mickey Redmond and Ken Daniels mentioned that 2011 Norris Trophy finalist Nicklas Lidstrom was being used whenever Shane Doan's line came on the ice, and the rest of the ice team was spread among the rest of the Wings' "D."
This was a fortunate strategy in that the rest of the "D" did not lose too much ground with the Coyotes' rush. Only on the power play did their defensive pairings did falter.
In watching some of the other series games, the announcers did mention some players doing double shifts, which the Wings also didn't need to do. Such a fact is also fortunate, as the Wings were without Zetterberg, and Franzen was limited after getting drilled into the boards by Doan.
It is safe to say the Wings will be rested. However, the concern will be how well rested. If they come to their next series too calm, the other team might take advantage.
The debut of Zetterberg in the playoffs in this next round for the Wings will be their X-factor. Not just in scoring but also on face-offs and his leadership. Having both him and Datsyuk on the ice makes the Wings even more formidable.
This team may not be Babcock's best going into the playoffs. He had other teams with better records and stats but fell short. However, this team might have some of the best chemistry of the Wings teams he has coached.
There is no goalie controversy for one, as in the 2008 playoffs with Dominic Hasek imploding against Nashville to be relieved by Chris Osgood. As mentioned before, the power play does need some work, though, if they want to go farther in these playoffs. But anyone they face will be dealing with a Red Wings team that has all lines making the net lamp go red.
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