If you thought things might get turned around after a demoralizing end to the second period for the Coyotes… Then you were still caught up in the storybook storyline potential that this Detroit-Phoenix series had. Instead, reality set in and the Wings took out the Coyotes in Game 7 of their opening round series 6-1.
Goals by Todd Bertuzzi and Nicklas Lidstrom on the power play, his second of the night, helped end the Hollywood storyline for the Coyotes in the third period. Pavel Datsyuk’s two goals in the second period and Henrik Zetterberg’s three assists showed that Detroit’s big stars were not about to go down without a fight. Jimmy Howard stopped 32 of 33 shots in what was a rather pedestrian effort despite the shot totals.
If you’re looking for a goat on the Coyotes roster, the last guy to look towards is goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov as he stopped 44 out of 50 shots he faced, meanwhile the Red Wings scored three of their six goals on the power play. It seems crazy to not blame the goaltender in a game that ended with a five goal differential, but Bryzgalov’s efforts throughout the first period kept the Coyotes hopes alive.
What killed the Coyotes was their tentative play all across the ice. In their own end, they gave all of Detroit’s players far too much room to maneuver and rather than challenging the puck carrier, they sat back and waited to collapse in on Bryzgalov to help him out. The physicality was gone for the most part (Phoenix lead in hits given 23-18, rather soft for an NHL playoff game) and the Wings were able to control the puck for large chunks of time with minimal issue. What that all means is simple: Phoenix didn’t come to play and Detroit taught them a lesson for it.
Detroit now moves on to play San Jose in round two of the Western Conference playoffs and they’ll have a relatively quick turnaround to do so as Game 1 of that series is tentatively set to be on Thursday night. For the Coyotes, this offseason should provide some time to think and learn about what they just went through against the Wings, but expect a lot of talk this summer to be about stuff off the ice and whether fan support will carry over into next season. It’ll be fun when these kinds of topics aren’t an issue for a franchise finally turned in the right direction.