Up Next: Coyotes

Finally! The regular season that started with the bad taste of 2010 lingering with the team has finally concluded. With a win in front of a raucous crowd at Chicago’s United Center, the Red Wings go into the playoffs with a little confidence on their side. The Phoenix Coyotes are up next, but what kind of Red Wings team will the Coyotes face over the next few weeks?

This season has been quite a journey. Looking at the standings, the difference between second and eighth place was a measly six points. In the current NHL where losing in 61 minutes is better than losing in 60, the overtime session and shootout mean everything for a team looking to scratch and claw their way to the playoffs.

This year’s Wings spent nearly 30% of their season in overtime (23 of 82 games), resulting in 13 bonus points through overtime and shootout victories. This success rate is rarely equaled in the league, especially for the team they will be facing in round one.

Speaking of the Phoenix/NHL Coyotes, last season should not be far from the minds of that young team that came within 60 minutes of advancing to the conference semifinals. The Wings were beat up by a team that was simply faster and more fearless than any team they had faced in years. It took the seventh game until the Wings’ experience really showed its form.

The Red Wings’ key to success last season’s series? Winning on the road. They took three of four from the Coyotes in Arizona, and that demoralized the young Phoenix squad. Their specialty to this year’s division winning squad was also their play on the road. If they want a fast series for their aging veterans, they need to reel off some wins in Glendale.