Friday, April 16, 2010

hockey update, April 16th 2010

Where else can you see an octopus being thrown onto a giant slab of ice in the middle of the Arizona desert?

Tonight marks Game 2 of the "Best of 7" series between the Phoenix Coyotes, and the Detroit Redwings.  Game one was this past Wednesday, and it revealed a series that will be incredible to watch.  And I'm not saying that just because I'm a Wings fan.

Both teams had not been seen as playoff contention material before the Olympic break. But with the return to NHL, both turned up their level of play with incredible speed, winning almost every game they played.  Climbing to the number 4 (PHX) and number 5 (DET) spots, they ended up being nearly perfectly matched for the first round of playoffs.

Heading into Game One, there was a lot of pressure on Detroit's goalie, Jimmy Howard.  Howard was intended to be the backup goalie to veteran Chris Osgood this season.  But especially in the second half of the season, Howard came out strong and earned his position as starting for the playoffs.  But here we are, the heat turned up a notch in a place where Ozzie's played many many times, and Howard seems a little nervous.  Will the Wings continue to start him?  I suppose that depends on his play tonight.

Game one was a physical game right out of the gates.  Phoenix definitely seemed like the over-enthused 7th grader feeling like he has something to prove to the much more seasoned Detroit team.  Dirty hits seemed to be the norm, until the Officials finally had to call several PHX penalties in a row.  Fortunately for them, Bryzgalov (Goalie) was solid during those penalty minutes.  Just wish the same could be said of Howard during ours.  But no doubt he's spent a few of these past 48 hours working on stopping screened shots.

Tonight looks to be another goalie match up, although I'm sure Detroit has been told to increase the physicality of their presence a bit more, but hopefully safely avoiding the penalty box.  They're bringing in Justin Abdelkader from the Griffins to replace Jason Williams, which will certainly help the checking on that line a bit.  Watch for Shane Doan to bring some more hitting power, leading his team and screening pucks.

But this time, we know how they intend to score.  Howard will be ready...game on.  9pm CST

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