Morning Skate: Desert Pups

via www.bittenandbound.com

What's the bigger turn-around? Joaquin Phoenix from quality actor ("AM I NOT MERCIFUL?!") to "rapper" career. Or is it the Phoenix Coyotes from almost being relocated after poor finances to 5th place in the Western Conference? Hmm...tough call.

  • The Punisher Returns. Much has been made about Niklas Kronwall returning to the line-up, as it should be. The return of Kronwall means likely a much tighter defensive line and most of all, no more making excuses in terms of the defense playing poorly because of Meech or Lebda since Meech is out there and Lebda is now planted on the third line for good. 
  • Watch to see how Brad Stuart plays now that he has his old partner back. Stuart had been an anchor on the blueline for the Wings this season but had stumbled a bit (both figuratively and literally at times) alongside Derek Meech or Brett Lebda. It will be interesting to see if his play picks up after beign reunited with his old linemate. 
  • Jimmy Howard starts in net tonight. Tiberius will get yet another start and is clearly the hot hand for Uncle Mike to put between the pipes, despite giving up 3 last time out against the Kings.
  • Ugh, speaking of....I don't even want to talk about the last time the Wings took the ice. A good Wings team showed up for the first twenty but faded through the second and third--or got distracted by the people in the rafters--and collapsed late. 3-2 loss after having a 2-0 lead, pathetic. 
  • I'm about to get all mythical creature  (and probably over-dramatic) on you. The Phoenix is a mythical bird that upon reaching the end of its life cycle is set ablaze. From the ashes of its own death, a new, reborn bird takes flight. That's pretty much what has gone on Detroit. The team was injured and burned itself to the ground with mistakes and turnovers and sloppy play. With several players returning to the line-up lately (and more to come very soon) it's time for a new team to emerge and take charge. So, what I'm saying is this is the new bird, mkay?
  • Phoenix is 4-5-1 in its last 10 games, including losses to Washington, Buffalo, San Jose,Vancouver, and Detroit. Big wins in that stretch include New Jersey and Nashville.
  • Detroit's not much better with a 4-4-2 record in the last 10 games. We all know how those games went...
  • Last time these two teams played, Jimmy was in net for a 4-1 win with a pair of goals from Homer.
  • Phoenix's top scorer is Ol' Iron Knee Shane Doan. Doan has 14 goals and 20 assists for a team leading 34 points.
  • Expect Bryzgalov to get the start in net for Phoenix. Bryzgalov has shown he's got what it takes to be a #1 in the NHL and man is he a great netminder.
  • Five For Howling is the SB Nation Coyotes Blog. Check it out pre-game to read up on the Yotes.
  • More after the jump. Make the jump, you know you can. I believe in you.

  • Will Patrick Eaves continue to impress? Eaves is quickly becoming a favorite among the fans for what he does at all ends of the ice and the intensity with which he plays the game. Can he continue his level of play tonight against a pretty big and defensively sound Phoenix team?
  • For that matter, will Drew Miller do the same? Miller has been on fire recently for the Wings and proved to be a huge pick up during the early injuries. Right now, he could be playing for a future contract though with how well he has done.
  • So, hate to say it but thank you St. Louis! The Blues knocked off the Flames last night and in the process put the Wings in the 8th spot by way of games played. Wings can't rely on stuff like this happening though and need to take control of their own destiny and knock some teams out of contention.
  • Babcock shuffled the lines a tiny bit. Bertuzzi is off the top line for now and joins Miller and Filppula on the second line while Cleary joins Datsyuk and Zetterberg on the top line. I like this move for two reasons: Hank and Cleary have some pretty good chemistry themselves so that could be a factor and Bertuzzi brings a physical, space-clearing aspect for Filppula.
  • How to beat the Coyotes: Don't get a two goal lead maybe? Two goal leads have been a thorn in the side of the Wings this year (somehow a two goal advantage is a disadvantage. All joking aside, put a lot of pucks on net to make Bryzgalov sweat early and take care of the puck in the offensive zone with few turnovers. Rushes the other way off of turnovers have been brutal to the Wings this year so minimizing those would be pretty swell.
  • Key match-up to watch when the Red Wings are on the puck: How will the line of Cleary-Datsyuk-Zetterberg mesh. Bertuzzi's been moved off the top line and it will be interesting to see how that affects not only the top line but the second line as well.
  • Key match-up to watch when the Coyotes are on the attack: Pretty easy on this one. How will Kronwall play in his first game back? Will he be a step behind or able to keep up with the Yotes all game long like he never missed a minute of play.
  • Pregame Video:

  • ah, what we've all missed so much. Granted, #2 he definitely jumps but the rest are just great hits.
  • SB Nation Featured Video
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