Series Shift: Red Wings head to Phoenix as snow falls on Hockeytown

Entry steps to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit as they celebrate 20 consecutive years of making the playoffs. (Kat Flemming)

The series opened in Hockeytown unlike a year ago when the two teams started the same first round series in Phoenix. Coyotes snuck in and scored the first goal of the series, in fact probably the first goal of the 2011 NHL Playoffs.

Now the Coyotes are sitting down 2-0 in the series to the Red Wings as they get ready to open game three at home in the arena out in the desert.

Fitting isn’t it?

With the excitement of playoff hockey in the air Detroit woke up this morning to a dusting of snow. It may be April in the D but mother nature is a hockey fan.

The Coyotes were the wonders of last year showing great strength and almost bullheadedness in how they left their ownership and management issues where they belong – off the ice – and stormed their way up the Western Conference standings.

This years Coyotes are a year smarter, a year more experienced, and have now tasted the play offs. Like a pack of – well – wild coyotes the team from Phoenix is hungry and have much to prove to the hockey world; but this team from Detroit stands in their way.

Detroit has been without one of their Euro Twins, star two-way forward, Henrik Zetterberg since before the end of the regular season; but that has not stopped the Flying Circus as Pavel Datsyuk has made jaws drop for fans world wide.

A sight not unfamiliar in Detroit; but more uncommon than throughout the cities history with hockey, a fight broke out (be it a short one) in the opening game of the post season between Red Wings Todd Bertuzzi and Coyotes Rostislav Klesla. Shortly after the fight Joe Louis Arena erupted into chants of Todd-Bert-Tu-Zzi.

Little known to many at the time one Red Wings fan was arrested when he threw an octopus on the ice and was given a $500 fine for a rule that is also violated when hats are tossed on the ice after a hat trick. The following day when the story got out not just Detroit fans; but hockey fans, were outraged that the NHL is pushing for the ousting of a tradition that started in Detroit back on April 15, 1952.

Hockey fans the world over held their breath in game two when they saw Johan “Mule” Franzen go face first into the end boards after a hit from Coyotes captain Shane Doan; Hockeytown applauded as Franzen as stubborn as his nickname implies returned to the game stitched up and still without a visor.
The Coyotes will need to win at least one game on the two-game home stand to keep the series alive.

Some say Detroit chased the Coyotes to Phoenix as the last game the franchise played in Winnipeg as the Jets was against the Red Wings; many now think if the Coyotes fail this post season they may just end up back in Winnipeg to start the next season. Game three starts tonight at 10:30 p.m. EST on Versus in the United States and on CBC in Canada.


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