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Morning Skate: Coyotes don't Hibernate

Short skate this morning.  We've had plenty to talk about over the last few days and the Wings have had lots of ice time already getting ready for the Coyotes tonight.  Let's get right to it:

Babcock has threatened to break up the struggling third line, giving them tonight to cure the sunburn on the back of their necks from the red light constantly turning on behind them. 

Of the same note: Justin Abdelkader's ready to go and just waiting for one of the guys in front of him to give him a chance to crack the lineup.

Also, in news I never thought we'd all be so happy to see: Jonathan Ericsson is skating again and expects to rejoin the team next week.  I know memories might be fuzzy, but Big Rig is a better defenseman than Doug Janik.

Brad Stuart didn't practice yesterday: Babs says he's sick, but would play on one leg if he had to.  I guess when you're a mountain of a man like Brad Stuart is, sometimes the cold at the top gets to you.

Five for Howling has the enemies' perspective on tonight.

More after the jump:

Phoenix's power play is terrible: They're running at 7.7% with 2 goals on 26 opportunities and have given up one shorty.  They're averaging a little over three opportunities a game. 

Phoenix's penalty kill is middle-of-the-road: They're 19th at 82.2% efficiency on the PK, but they also only average 11 penalty minutes a game.  That's even after factoring in the penalty-fest they took against Detroit in the last meeting.

How does Detroit stack up? Det's PK is tops in the league at 91.7% and the Wings take only slightly more penalty minutes per game than Phoenix. The power play is still below 20%, but has scored a goal in six straight games.  The special teams matchup favors the Wings.

Key match-up to watch when Phoenix has the puck: Shane Doan has been back for one game since his three-game suspension for blindsiding Anaheim's Dan Sexton (who also suffered a broken nose on Saturday off a Ruslan Salei wrister, dude is cursed).  Phoenix lost that game to the Senators 5-2, but Doan avoided taking any minuses on the scoresheet.  He always seems to turn it up against Detroit.

Key match-up to watch when Detroit has the puck: Second game in a row I'm watching the third line.  Babcock has put them on notice that they have to start putting it all together.  Phoenix is a defense-first counterattacking squad, which seems to give those guys trouble, as most of the goals they've given up have been a result of the kinds of offensive zone turnovers off which the Coyotes thrive.

No word yet on who's in goal: Howard has started the last three games since the loss in Dallas, but Osgood has won three straight against Phoenix, giving up 8 goals in those three games.  Hopefully we'll have an update by the time the Game Thread goes up for tonight. [Update - thanks to commenter onevilklown, who found the Chuck Pleiness update from the Macomb Daily who says Jimmy Howard starts]

Finally, keeping with the tradition we started with the last Morning Skate, I present five reasons to hate the Phoenix Coyotes:

  1. They play in the arena:  I don't have a problem with corporate arena sponsorship, I just hate the name ""
  2. Ed Jovanoski: 90% of the time he's the kind of warrior I'd love to have on my team (on the third pairing).  The other 10 percent comes when the 'Yotes are losing and getting outplayed, turning Jovocop into a cheap headhunting bitch.
  3. The old jerseys: I actually like the new logo, but I'm not forgiving them for ever having worn this abomination.
  4. The ownership situation: There's plenty of blame to go around without taking a cheap shot at the very vocal and supportive fans the franchise does have; I'm just tired of hearing about it all and discussing it all.
  5. Detroit had to play executioner: Listen, everybody knew it was going to happen last season.  Sure, what the Flyers did was magical, but that was in the East, where suck happens every day.  Out West, in the good conference, the Coyotes were not going to make a run.  Somebody had to put the puppies down and I'm kinda mad it had to be us in the first round.