As the strike-shortened NHL season enters its final three weeks, just nine scant points separate a staggering number of Western Conference teams. From positions 3-13, with points scattered between 35 and 44, 11 teams are locked in a dead heat in the standings, making the last stretch of the regular season Must-See-TV. Among the 11 teams are the Detroit Red Wings and the Phoenix Coyotes, two teams that go head-to-head tonight at 10:00 p.m. ET.
The Red Wings are coming off of a win against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night, but the final period was all Avalanche, and the Wings saw a 3-0 lead dwindle to just a single goal margin before the clock hit zeroes. Goalie Jimmy Howard came up huge in the final moments of the game, stopping several shots and securing the win when Colorado seemed destined to at least tie before the end of the third. The win pushes Detroit to a 6-4 record over the last 10 games and puts them in seventh in the Western Conference standings.
For the Phoenix Coyotes, the playoffs are still a possibility, but in order to even stand a chance, they need to start winning games. They were able to pull out their last match-up when they welcomed the Los Angeles Kings to the Jobing.com Arena. It was just the team’s second win of the past three weeks, bringing them to a 2-5-3 record over their last 10 and 15-15-6 overall. The Coyotes are hoping to build upon the win against the Kings by taking it to the Wings in tonight’s game.
Both teams are fighting for playoff spots and seeding. There are only so many more games left in the season, making each loss more and more devastating. Even with three weeks left in the season, neither team wants to make a playoff run any harder than it has to be.
In order to get the victory tonight, both teams will need to overcome a couple of hurdles standing in their way. The Red Wings are dealing with a slew of injuries to key contributors, including a groin injury to team captain, Henrik Zetterberg. He is listed as day-to-day, and his status for tonight is up in the air.
Phoenix will not be able to count on having an advantage at home. So far this season, the Coyotes have a 4-8-5 losing record on their home ice. This does not bode well when facing a team as tough as the Wings tend to be.
It is sure to be a great game between two fierce competitors tonight when the puck drops at 10. Be sure to tune in and watch the NHL Playoffs standings develop before your eyes.