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Morning Skate: Howlin' at You

Anyone else really enjoy playing the Phoenix Coyotes?

They hate our team. Their fans hate our team. Their fans hate us fans. Two straight playoff series against each other will do that .

But guess what? We just beat them.

They had home ice in 2010 and 1-0 and 2-1 leads. Didn't matter. We beat crushed them in game 7 on their ice. We had home ice in 2011. We swept them. It's fun. Really, it is. They have their stolen white out. They have their little throw the snake gimmick. It's cute. They've had some winning teams that made the playoffs the last few seasons, yet they still have 10 people attend all their games (until the playoffs, of course, when all the "die-hards" come out). The Wings have four games a year against the Yotes and they're all home games.

Phoenix lost Ilya Bryzgalov and plugged in Mike Smith into the system and haven't missed a beat. Head coach Dave TIppet has a system in place and it works. Phoenix is current first in the Pacific Division and the team looks like it will be in the playoff hunt once again this season. It won't be an easy game for the Wings, but it should be a fun one. They're led by regulars Shane Doan, Keith Yandle, and old man Ray Whitney. They'll play defense. They'll be physical. Doan will go out of his way to take a few runs at people tonight. It will be your typical Coyotes vs. Red Wings game and Detroit will come away victorious...just like in the playoffs.

Five For Howling is your SBNation Coyotes' blog.

Puck drop is just after 7:30p ET.

The Expected Lineup

Johan Franzen -- Pavel Datsyuk -- Todd Bertuzzi

Jiri Hudler -- Henrik Zetterberg -- Valtteri Filppula

Danny Cleary -- Darren Helm -- Chris Conner

Drew Miller -- Justin Abdelkader -- Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom -- Ian White

Niklas Kronwall -- Jonathan Ericsson

Brad Stuart -- Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard (starting)

Ty Conklin

Scratches: Mike Commodore and Cory Emmerton

Injuries: Jan Mursak (ankle) and Patrick Eaves (jaw)

Filppula is a game time decision. If he plays, the lineup will look like what is listed above. If Flip cannot go, Cleary will move up to the second line, Abby will move to the third line and Emmerton will take over as the fourth line center.

15-9-3 (1st in Pacific) Record 16-9-1 (2nd in Central)
2.67 (16th) Goals Per Game 2.92 (T-9th)
2.41 (8th) Goals Against Per Game 2.27 (6th)
10.8% (29th) Power Play % 20.0% (5th)
85.9% (7th) Penalty Kill % 80.2% (23rd)
Radim Vrbata (13 goals) Goal Leader Johan Franzen (13 goals)
2 tied with 24 points Points Leader Johan Franzen (26 points)

  • The Red Wings ar 60-29-32-3 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Coyotes/Original Jets franchise.
  • Remember when we played St. Louis and gave up 2 power play goals to their league worst PP? Well now the Wings get to face the second worst PP in the league. If they give up 3 PP goals tonight we will have a real issue. Shut it down. A good PK is essential come playoff time.
  • Mike Smith is putting up a solid season in net for the Coyotes. He's 13-6-3 with a 2.26 GAA and a .931 SV%. It makes you wonder though...with Ilya Brzygalov's struggles with the Flyers and now Smith's sudden success in Phoenix after being average all his career. The Coyotes system seems to make goalies better than they really are.
  • Franzen has scored in three straight games...and the Wings have lost two straight. Pretty much the exact opposite of everything we've known this season. You still need to Feed the Mule tonight, but it's up to the rest of the team to help him out and play some defense too. Feed Pav. Feed Hank. Feed Homer. Don't feed Ericsson.

Prediction: The Wings had to lose last game to keep their streak of streaks this season alive. However, that can change tonight. The Wings are outstanding at home (10-2-1) and will continue that trend. Wings win 3-1 and Henrik Zetterberg is your player of the game.

Let's Go Red Wings.