It may feel like a month has passed since the Red Wings played their last game as they take the ice for the first time in five days in a home match against the Coyotes.[singlepic id=77 w=484 h=180 float=center]
Matchup: Phoenix Coyotes vs. Detroit Red Wings
Venue: Joe Louis Arena; Detroit, MI
Time: 7:30 PM EST
The Detroit Red Wings (2-1-0, 4 points, 3rd place Atlantic Division) come into tonight's game having five days to prepare for a Phoenix Coyotes (1-2-0, 2 poitns, 6th place Pacific Division) team who is in the third game of a five game road trip. The Red Wings are hoping that they can break out offensively for the first time this season, as they are averaging only two goals per game in their first three games. In their last game against Boston, the Red Wings were only able to manage one goal and were nearly held to only one goal in their previous game as well if it were not for a late offensive burst in the third period and overtime.
One of the bigger concerns for the Red Wings has to be the lack of powerplay success. The team has yet to connect on a powerplay goal and has not shown a great ability to control play with the man advantage in their eight opportunities. The Red Wings will hope that can change tonight as the Coyotes penalty kill comes into this game 25th overall in the league with only a 64.5% success rate.
After opening the season with a 4-1 win, Phoenix has dropped their past two games while scoring only a combined two goals. Tonight's game will be their second of a 4 game east coast road trip and their third of five straight on the road. The Red Wings need to take advantage of a team that is in the middle of a road trip considering they have had five days off. If the Red Wings are able to break out offensively, perhaps this could spark a nice win streak for the team.
Starting in net for the Red Wings will be the one and only Jimmy Howard. Howard is once again the strong point of the Red Wings defense which has struggled at points through the three games played. The defense will need to shore up in order for Howard's work load to lighten.
Phoenix will counter with Mike Smith in net who was pulled in Tuesday's game after giving up five goals on only 20 shots in two periods. In his career against the Red Wings, Smith is 2-5-2 with a .912 save percentage and a 2.60 GAA.
Now is a good time for the Red Wings to get the powerplay and the offense moving. It is good to get those two figured out before it becomes a consistent problem especially on a long road trip.