Talent, experience has Red Wings in control

Yotes.jpgDetroit Red Wings vs. Phoenix Coyotes
2:00 p.m. EDT, April 25, 2010
Live on NBC

The Phoenix Coyotes have been the feel-good story of the season, but
unfortunately uplifting and motivating stories don’t translate to wins
on the ice. Although the Coyotes finished the season with more wins and a
better overall record, the Red Wings were no doubt the best team headed
into the playoffs not just in this series but in the NHL as well.

Detroit
rebounded from a number of devastating injuries to start the season to
become the most balanced and hottest team down the stretch. The defense
was stifling and the offense returned, bolstered by the stellar
goaltending of Jimmy Howard.

So now we have the Phoenix Coyotes,
back in the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and now facing
elimination after initially being ahead in the series 2-1. It looked for
a bit there as if the Coyotes would pull it off, knocking off the Red
Wings in the first round and continuing the rebirth of playoff hockey in
Arizona.

But as the series has progressed, not even the trapping
system of Dave Tippett or the goaltending of Ilya Bryzgalov have been
able to overcome the talent and experience of the Red Wings.

While
the injury to captain Shane Doan initially sparked the Coyotes to a big
Game 3 victory at Joe Louis Arena, they have since scored just one goal
in the past two games. If the Coyotes are to have any chance at pulling
off a series win, they have to stop playing it safe, hoping for a
mistake and finally start taking chances on offense.

There is the
hope that Shane Doan will return for the game today, which should help
balance out the counterattack of the Coyotes. Playing back, a trap style
in hope of slowing the offense of the Red Wings, hasn’t been working as
planned. Expect to see an attacking and aggressive Coyotes team on the
ice today, especially if Shane Doan does in fact return.

For the
Red Wings, they’ll keep doing what has worked the past week; a steady,
crisp approach that waits for the holes in the Coyotes defense to
develop and then taking advantage. They’re the best team right now, and
the only thing that will keep the Red Wings from having the series head
back to Phoenix is another effort and energy letdown.

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    Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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    Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

    McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

    With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

    1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
    2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
    3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
    4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

    As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

    Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

    The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

    Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

    Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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    Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

    Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

    McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

    Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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    The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

    They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

    The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

    Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

    The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

    The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

    Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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    Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

    Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

    Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

    via Getty Images

    The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.