SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For Shane Doan, the NHL postseason he had waited eight years to arrive ended in a heartbeat -- quickly followed by a broken heart.
Bearing down on Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard in pursuit of a possible rebound, Doan had a split second to make a decision: Plow into Howard, who was spread out with his head exposed in a vulnerable position, or side-step the collision and take his chances with the boards at Joe Louis Arena.
Doan chose the latter, and the boards were unforgiving. The result was a separated shoulder that, despite his best efforts and endless negotiating with Phoenix coach Dave Tippett, forced him to watch the rest of the series from the sidelines. It ended in Game 7 -- a game Doan thought he would play before being overruled -- with Doan stalking the bowels of Jobing.com Arena as the Coyotes were dismantled 6-1 and sent home for the summer.
"To wait so long for that chance and to have it taken away just like that … it's one of the moments in my career I will never forget," Doan said Monday. "I never wanted something more on the ice than to play in those games. But guess what? We have another chance."
Yes, those fickle hockey gods navigated their way through the endless possible final-week playoff combinations and reunited the Red Wings and Coyotes for another dance. This time Detroit holds home ice, but the Coyotes think they hold a key component as well -- the revenge factor.
"They are a great team with an incredible history and they have accomplished so much over the last 20 years," Doan said. "At the same time, we feel like we're a good match with them. We should have beat them last year, and we let that opportunity slip away. But we have another chance and we have to find a way."
Doan was a runaway train in the first two games of the series, registering 18 hits and sparking the home crowd with each one making an impact on every shift as Phoenix and Detroit split the first two games. The game plan hasn't changed much this time around, so look for Doan to be throwing his 230-pound pound body around downtown Motown when the series begins Wednesday night.
"I think Detroit has so much skill, you have to be physical against them," he said. "You can give them time with the puck or they have players that will make you pay. It's not like it's a big secret how you want to play against them. And I think we have the personnel and the system that can be successful."
When asked if he could keep up that kind of physical pace for seven games, he smiled and said, "You mean 28 games? I can do it. I will do it."
Defenseman Keith Yandle remembers feeling the pain and frustration as he watched his close friend have to sit out last year.
"If he could have played one minute or 20 minutes, he wanted to be out there to help us out. That pain was a lot worse than anything he felt in his shoulder," Yandle said.
"You can't run around the way he did in those two games of that series for a whole season, you'll never be able to get out of bed in the morning. But for the playoffs, you find that extra gear and extra level and Doaner has that ability. And when you hear him coming and you feel the breath coming out of that crooked nose, I know he will have people's attention."
Doan led the Coyotes in goals with 20 -- the last one was the game-winner in Friday's 4-3 win over San Jose that finally clinched a playoff berth for Phoenix -- and he finished the season strong and healthy. From mid-January to mid-March he had at least one point in 19 of 24 games and a lower-body injury that hampered the first half of his season finally healed about the same time.
"I feel great. I'm ready to go and I can't wait for Wednesday," Doan said. "Getting a second chance is more than I could have asked for. It's an incredible opportunity."