Halfway through a four-game road trip out west, the Detroit Red Wings are in pretty good shape. They were able to defeat the mighty Anaheim Ducks not once, but twice over the weekend and moved into the fifth spot in the Western Conference standings. The Red Wings can keep their momentum moving forward with a win over the Phoenix Coyotes tonight. Jonas Gustavsson will get the rare start in goal, against a Coyotes team that will be without Mike Smith.
Gustavsson has only played in five games this season, and has a 1-2-1 record with a 2.84 goals-against average. The Coyotes will turn to Jason LaBarbera in Smith’s absence and come into tonight’s game having lost five straight games. In eight appearances this season LaBarbera is 1-4-0 with a 2.20 goals-against average.
The Red Wings’ recent success has been helped along by a power play unit that has added a goal in seven straight games. Role players have also been shining strong for Detroit, as Justin Abdelkader, Drew Miller and Dan Cleary played a big role in the two wins against the Ducks. In winning four of their last five games, the Red Wings have looked more like a playoff contender than they did early in the season, and they will try to continue that trend in a very road-heavy schedule for the season’s remaining five weeks.
The Red Wings have not played the Coyotes this season, but will play them three times in the next four weeks. The current road trip ends with a Thursday meeting with the San Jose Sharks before Detroit returns home to host the league-leading Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday afternoon.