Finishing off our playoff preview, we'll take a look at the offense for both teams. Who to watch, who's a sleeper, who could be a disappointment, etc.
#86 / Left Wing / Phoenix Coyotes
Feb 24, 1986
Wolski has 23 goals this season, 6 of those with the Coyotes
The Coyotes offense is well balanced and distributes the scoring wealth very well. The problem is there might not be enough scoring. The Yotes rank near the bottom of the league in goals per game with 2.57 (24th) and are middle of the road in shots per game with 30.5 (13th). If the Wings constrict them on offense (9th fewest shots allowed) then will the Coyotes be able to find the room to work their game?
The Coyotes added a few guys at the deadline that have helped the offense out quite a bit. Wojtek Wolski moved from Colorado to Phoenix and has continued his scoring pace at pretty much the same rate. Lee Stempniak, however, scored as many goals in his 18 games in Phoenix as he did in his prior 62 with Toronoto. Stempniak's 14 goals in 18 games is pretty incredible and he's turned from a -10 on the Leafs to a +10 on the Coyotes. In addition to those guys, Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata have been good offensive pluses for the Coyotes. Doan leads the team in points and Vrbata in goals. If they are on top of their game, the Wings could have a little more trouble dealing with the Phoenix attack.
The key players: Shane Doan, Wojtek Wolski, Lee Stempniak, Radim Vrbata
The X-Factor: Shane Doan. Doan is a good set-up man and can net goals of his own while playing quality minutes.
Detroit Red Wings:
#40 / Left Wing / Detroit Red Wings
Oct 09, 1980
Hammerin' Hank is tied atop the Wings scorers with Pavel Datsyuk at 70 points
Detroit's offense looked flat out putrid at times this season. But that was also at a time when Brad May was getting consistent ice time. Those days are gone and the Wings have found their offensive stride again. The Wings are in the middle with goals per game at 2.72 (14th) and have a second best shots per game at 33.4. They get the puck on net but they need to make sure it's from good positions on the ice instead of strictly from the point or low percentage shots from tough angles. Despite that low goals per game season average, Detroit's scored 3 or more goals in 11 of the last 15 games.
Perhaps the biggest thing for Detroit on offense is the final "gelling" that they've been able to establish. When all the injuries stopped and the players returned, the guys playing finally started to get the same linemates night in and night out. Considering that at one point, there were EIGHT players in the AHL last season playing for the Wings in the line-up, getting the guys like Franzen, Zetterberg and Filppula back made an incredible difference. Now the Red Wings have a top notch first line that's followed very closely by a very talented second line.
The key players: Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Tomas Holmstrom
The X-Factor: Todd Bertuzzi. Yes, Todd Bertuzzi. Bert has the ability to be a game breaker in both senses of the word. If Turnover Todd shows up it is going to continually hurt the Wings. But, if Two-some Tuzzi shows up and is on top of his scoring game he just adds to the great scoring depth the Red Wings have.
Edge: Red Wings. I think the Wings simply have too much on the top three lines in comparison to the Coyotes.