In less than 9 hours, the Red Wings and Coyotes will be playing game 7 of the first round series. I believe the Red Wings will win the game for a few reasons.
- This crew of Red Wings haven’t faced a game 7 in the first round
This isn’t your father’s Red Wings. While there are a lot of old faces like Maltby, Holmstrom, Lidstrom, etc. This Red Wings crew doesn’t want the ride to end. Should they lose this game, who knows how many more opportunities the aforementioned players will get to win another Stanley Cup?
- More pressure is on the home team
As we saw in last year’s Stanley Cup Final against Pittsburgh, more pressure was on the Wings because they were the home team and was expected to win. I believe the Red Wings simply tried too hard to win that game.
- In a seven game series, the better team will win
The Wings have no more excuses to use. They were hurt most of the regular season and now they are healthy in the playoffs. They are the best team in the league after the Olympic break and it all comes down to one game. 60 minutes hockey to determine if they play another day or go home. I still believe from top to bottom they are the better team.
Detroit’s Keys to Victory
- They have to score first
As the road team, the main key is to score first and score early. In similar fashion to what Phoenix did in game six, after Detroit failed on the string of power plays, Phoenix took advantage of a turnover and scored a shorthanded goal. The Red Wings have to get the first goal to quiet the Phoenix crowd and make the Coyotes play from behind.
- Get goals from B-List players Johan Fanzen and Dan Cleary
Franzen and Cleary have been studs the last two years in the playoffs. This year, Franzen has lived up his billing while Cleary has recorded 0’s across the stat line in six games. A late goal by either one of those would be big for the Red Wings to advance.
- Finish in Regulation
A game 7 is like a 60-minute overtime game. Make it sudden death and the smallest turnover, deflection, icing call, or lost face off in the defensive zone can end your season. In the game is tied with five minutes left in regulation, that’s when sudden death hockey begins.
- Protect Jimmy Howard
The defense has to clear out the front of the net for any rebounds or second chances Phoenix can have. The blueliners for Detroit have to put on a performance seen in games four and five. They have to let Jimmy Howard see the puck and then proceed to clear it from the slot or setup a breakout in transition. Not to mention that Phoenix has good defensemen themselves who move the puck just as well as the Detroit defensemen.
- Stay out of the penalty box
Just like we saw in games one and six, the Red Wings have to stay out of the penalty box. The Red Wings failed to allow a power play goal between games two and five, but allowed Phoenix to light the lamp several times in game six. They cannot afford to put the game in the officials hands, they have to take it themselves.