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Playoff Preview: Special teams

Part III of our playoff preview showcases each team's penalty kill, power play, faceoffs, and more.

Phoenix Coyotes:

Radim Vrbata

#17 / Right Wing / Phoenix Coyotes



Jun 13, 1981

Vrbata leads the Coyotes with 7 power-play goals

Power Play: Phoenix's power play does something really well: distribute the puck. The Coyotes have 10 different scorers on the power play and of the 46 goals they've scored on the power play, no player accounts for greater than 15% of those goals. Point is they distribute the puck on the power play and it works for them. Unfortunately, they only have a success rate of 14.6% which is 28th in the NHL. Combine that with the way Detroit has been killing penalties, and they could be shut out on the man advantage.

Penalty Kill: Where their power play falters, their PK picks up for it. The Yotes PK unit kills 84.5% (6th) of the penalties it faces and is helped out greatly by Ilya Bryzgalov. They say your goalie has to be your best penalty killer and Bryzgalov is that indeed. He's allowed only 40 goals against on the opponent power play,

Face-offs: This is a facet of the game the Red Wings could benefit from. The Yotes are a dead even split on draws at 50.0% (14th). The Coyotes' face-off men hover in the low 50% but the Red Wings could capitalize with the first stick on the ice rule.

Discipline: Phoenix is pretty disciplined in the penalty department, earning 11.3 minutes in penalties per game (7th). They'll need to play even more disciplined against Detroit to keep the Red Wings' power play off the board.

Detroit Red Wings:

Tomas Holmstrom

#96 / Left Wing / Detroit Red Wings



Jan 23, 1973

Holmstrom leads the Red Wings with 13 power-play goals and countless screens

Power Play: Detroit's power play has been a bit of confusing story to follow. They scored a goal on the advantage in the first eight games of the season and it looked like it was going to be a good year on the PP. But add in a 0-8 performance and then 0-for's in 8 of 9 games, the unit was struggling. But as the season went on and the line-ups returned to "normal" and Drew Miller was no longer having to play on the power play, the unit returned to true form and started clicking with consistency. Tomas Holmstrom is the heart of the first power play unit and his rear end in the opposing goalies face constantly creates problems for seeing shots that come from the point. With Holmstrom in front of the net, the opponents are often limited to moving a defender (or two) to try and deter him from the crease. That opens up ice for guys like Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, something you don't want to do. Detroit's power play has been successful at a rate of 19.2% (9th) and can maximize on any of the opportunities given to them.

Penalty Kill: The penalty kill has been a very pleasant surprise this season. It started out a bit rocky but has reached a very respectable 83.9%(10th) and even went a stretch of 9 straight games without giving up a goal on the shorthanded opportunities. The Wings have greatly benefited from the return of Andreas Lilja to the penalty kill and his shot blocking. But perhaps the most unsung and unrecognized PK-er in the league is Darren Helm. Helm has spent about two and a half minutes per game on average killing penalties and in the 185 minutes, he's been on the ice for ... Drew Miller and Patrick Eaves are two more great tools the Wings have to toss out there while down a man and have been an incredible value for the dollar for the Wings these season. Schematically, Babcock has adopted a page or two from the Jacques Lemaire PK book it seems and it is paying endless dividends.

Face-offs: The Wings have a pretty good face-off percentage of 51.1% (8th) but have struggled at times to do well against certain teams.

Discipline: Detroit's one of the more disciplined teams in the league and takes only 8.8 minutes in penalties per game, the 2nd fewest behind Nashville in the league. The Wings rarely loose their cool to frustration and it helps them out in the long run.

Edge: Detroit takes all three. Top 10 in PP and PK as well as face-offs and a well disciplined lineup that doesn't take penalties that often.