Morning Skate: In the desert

 

Detroit's going to be looking to wash that sour taste out of its mouth as the Coyotes  come home to their first game in the U.S. after an opening pair of games with the Boston Bruins in Prague. 
  • Jimmy Howard will be your starter in net. Neither Red Wing goalie had a good outing in his last start but Howard will get the start tonight. Expect Jimmy to bounce back and have a good night. The lackluster performance against the Avs should have some staying power with Howard as he had the night off in Dallas. The question is whether that staying power is of negative or motivational nature. 
  • The last time these two teams met, the Red Wings put a 6-1 victory over Phoenix in Game 7 and the talk of "throwing the snake" was ended with authority. The Wings got four 2nd period goals, including Pavel Datsyuk's sick breakaway goal that left most of the crowd (that was already confused about what this "hockey" thing was) in silence. Datsyuk scored twice in that game and was dominant all game long.
  • Continuing with Datsyuk, he had a quiet night against Dallas with only two shots that were threats (one being a crossbar dinger) and didn't look like his normal Datsyukian self. I don't think he's hurt or anything, I think he just had an "off" night. He had some good success against the Coyotes last year so maybe he'll go back to that success tonight. 
  • Detroit just needs to do everything in the exact opposite fashion that they did it on Tuesday night in Dallas. They were pretty bad in all three zones and were very flat all night. They're going to need to bounce back solidly against a Coyotes team that plays with a high pace. 
  • So this might happen with Phoenix. Don't get too excited, it'll probably fall apart at the last second again. 
  • The Coyotes have only played two games thus far and in one they got shutout so it's hard to really get a feel for what their identity is thus far. Expect offensive chances Shane Doan, Wojtek Wolski and Radim Vrbata, they're consistently involved in the game plan.
  • Look for the Coyotes to implement Zybnek Michalek, Matthew Lombardi, Daniel Winnik in the gameplan. What's that you say? They're all gone? Oh. Okay. Michalek and Lombardi are big departures as Michalek was arguably their best defender and they didn't exactly replace him with anyone of the same caliber. As far as Lombardi, the Coyotes added some forwards like Ray Whitney, Eric Belanger and Andrew Ebbett so they actually improved at forward. 
  • Five For Howling is your SB Nation Phoenix Coyotes blog. Give 'em a look see.

    More after the jump...
  • Ilya Bryzgalov will start for the Coyotes (of course). The Russian netminder has good size and vision but seems to struggle with some movement. The line of Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom should have some success getting him out of position with their passing but Phoenix usually does a pretty good job shutting down the passing lanes.
  • At the time being, Johan Franzen is likely out for tonight's game after suffering what he called a concussion. Franzen got hit in the head with an elbow from Mark Fistric. It didn't particularly look dirty, just more along the lines of one of those things that happens in a game.
  • I'm curious as to how the Phoenix crowd will be. They showed up in high numbers for the playoffs but will they continue it for the home opener? 
  • Is anyone else concerned about the powerplay so far? The Wings have converted for 3 goals on 16 chances, about 18.8%. HOWEVER, two of the power play goals were kind of...crap--to put it nicely. Filppula's game winner against Chicago was a powerplay goal but it was a weak, weak goal allowed by Turco and then Kronwall's PP goal the other night was in a game that was all but decided at that point. Take away those two goals (and their respective PP opportunities) and the Wings sit at a lowly 7%, something that is kind of sad considering the talent out there on those units.
  • On the reverse side, the PK has been really good and only surrendered 2 goals in 13 opportunities. Chalk that success up to Darren Helm, Dan Cleary and Drew Miller up front, doing excellent work on the kill. 
  • Let's try some reverse psychology: Brad Stuart is horrible. 
  • Key match-up to watch when Phoenix has the puck: Shane Doan. Just in case he does THIS again. 
  • Key match-up to watch when Detroit has the puck: Bertuzzi/Filppula without Franzen (assuming that sticks). Bertuzzi has been excellent thus far this season but how will he (and Valtteri)  fare without the Mule on the line?
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