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Game 7 Preview

Tonight's Game 7 is big for both teams. If Detroit wins, they shake off the criticisms of a "dynasty at its end" for at least one more round. If Phoenix wins, they continue their incredible turnaround story and built their reputation. In the end, only one of these will happen so let's take a look at some of the keys to the game.

  • Get pressure on Ilya Bryzgalov. The Wings got plenty of pressure on Bryzgalov in game 6 but it was just seemingly "one of those nights" for Bryzgalov. If they can continue the pressure and drive to the net looking for rebounds, they might find some success in the offensive end.
  • Work out different paths to the net. Phoenix has been good in this series about pushing the Red Wings to the perimeter and still blocking up the middle of the ice. Get some movement going along the boards and behind the net and someone is bound to break free.
  • The penalty kill simply has to be better. There's no way to get around it, the Wings cannot afford another 3-goal game performance from their penalty kill. The PK was bad at moving skaters out of Howard's way (they just didn't) and the screens left Howard in a tight spot. If the Wings aren't going to move skaters out of Howards way, they at least need to do a better job filling the shooting lanes and stepping in front of shots.
  • Jimmy Howard needs to have a solid game. He's had somewhat of an up and down series and you can call it the rookie playoff hiccups if you like but I don't believe that's the case. Howard has been remarkably solid (though the stats point that to be a lie) and has had a lot of inconsistent play in front of him. If Howard is on his game tonight, the Coyotes will have a rough go of it.
  • Johan Franzen needs to step up. I'll be the last one to criticize Mule because I know what he can do when he's on but this is the time where he needs to step up and make his presence known. Franzen's had a point in every game so far so his passing has been good but his single goal is rather unMulelike. Expect Franzen to step up and take anywhere from 5-8 shots tonight.
  • The defense needs to be lights out all night long. They've got to play in a way that respects the speed of the Coyotes but also shows they're not going to give up anything either. Phoenix is excellent at getting behind defenders on dump-ins and then shoveling the puck back to the front of the net. Let them take the corners and lock up with the guys receiving the passes.
  • Offensive zone entry is key. The Coyotes have stepped up in their zone and played a tight game when it comes to allowing the Wings entry into the zone. This has forced the Wings to dump and chase at times when they'd normally just take it in. Clogging up the blueline has worked well for the Coyotes and Detroit needs to find a way around that.
  • It'll be interesting to see if there's any carry-over from Justin Abdelkader's scuffles and hits in the last game. If the Coyotes come out physical and attempting to bully the Red Wings, how will they (DRW) respond to that? Will they go into a shell or push back? I'm thinking push back.
  • I'd like to report a missing person. His name is Dan Cleary. Last seen? April 11 against Chicago. Cleary has been held in check by the Coyotes this whole series. Over the past two postseasons Cleary has come through in the clutch and been a pivotal extra push for the Wings. Tonight would be an excellent time for him to turn that switch on.
  • Both Detroit power play units need to step up. They've been limited recently in productivity and it seems like they've slightly changed the game plan while on the advantage. They're not getting the same great chances as normal and are primarily trying to just bang home pucks from the point. Bryzgalov's getting too much time to see them and it's ineffective.
  • The captain of the Coyotes, Shane Doan, is out of tonight's line-up. Doan's leadership on the ice is unparalleled for the Coyotes but they'll again have to be without him as he's still nursing an upper body injury.
  • Lastly, if the Coyotes do win, don't start the conspiracy theory stuff. It's ludicrous.