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NHL Playoff Questions: Can Phoenix End Its Playoff Drought?

Dave Dulberg |
April 13, 2011 | 2:55 a.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Who will step up to provide offensive support for Ilya Bryzgalov? (Creative Commons - Bridget Samuels)
Who will step up to provide offensive support for Ilya Bryzgalov? (Creative Commons - Bridget Samuels)

Dave Dulberg takes a look at six pressing questions heading into the NHL Playoffs, continuing with the Phoenix Coyotes:

3. Can the Phoenix Coyotes win their first playoff series in franchise history?

For a franchise marred by the ongoing battle between the city of Glendale, potential owner Matthew Huisizar and the Goldwater Institute, the Coyotes’ 99-point season en route to a second straight trip to the postseason should be welcomed with open arms.

The problem: the 'Yotes are essentially the Tracy McGrady of the National Hockey League. Just ask Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Teppo Numminen and current captain Shane Doan. This team couldn’t hit water in late April if they fell out a boat. It’s been that bad.

To make matters worse, they are greeted again this year by the Detroit Red Wings, who knocked them off in a seven-game series in last year’s first round. The Wings, who will be making their 20th straight postseason appearance, have been firing on all cylinders this season. Mike Babcock’s team finished second in goals per game (3.1) and fifth in power play percentage (22.3). They also have two of the most veteran playoff-savvy defensemen in the NHL. Nicklas Lindstrom, 40, has won four Stanley Cups and was the 2002 Conn Smythe Winner while Brian Rafalski, 37, is a three-time Stanley Cup winner.

Even with injury concerns to All-Star center Henrik Zetterberg (oblique strain) and backup goaltender Chris Osgood (sports hernia), something tells me Hockeytown will be a host to meaningful hockey well into May.

While the Coyotes' net minder, Ilya Bryzgalov (2.48 GAA and 10 shutouts), has the potential to carry the team on his back if need be, Phoenix lacks a game-changing offensive player and this is a series where they desperately need one.

No knock on Doan (60 points), first-time All-Star Keith Yandle (59 points) or former-Stanley Cup winner Ray Whitney (57 points), but it looks like another early departure looms in the desert, only magnifying the off-the-ice issues the team is bound to face in the coming months.

Be sure to check back for the final three NHL Playoff questions.


Email Dave Dulberg.



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