GLENDALE -- Shane Doan
was a fast-moving wrecking ball with the letter “C” on it Wednesday night in Game 1 of the best-of-seven first-round playoff series between the Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings at Jobing.com Arena. Phoenix won 3-2.
In the six seasons I’ve been covering this team, I don’t recall ever seeing the captain of the Coyotes play such a gritty and physical game. His checks were bone-crushers and they electrified the sell-out crowd. Simply put, he was a beast.
After the game, I was careful about approaching Doan in the dressing room for an interview because I wasn’t sure if he’d plow me throw the wall simply out of habit.
I am happy to report he did not.
Doan told me he’d waited eight long years in between playoff games and he approached Wednesday’s as if it would be his last. It won’t be, of course, because the Coyotes and Red Wings will meet at least three more times within the next week.
Detroit has more skilled players than the Coyotes, Doan said, so that’s why he felt it necessary to smash them all over the boards and set a physical tone. He led both teams with nine hits, but it seemed as if he delivered closer to 99 didn’t it?
“I’ve got to be physical in order to be successful,” Doan said. “And I’ll try to keep going and doing that.”
Head Coach Dave Tippett told me several times before the playoffs started that he was expecting big things from Doan in the postseason. After Wednesday night’s game, Tippett spoke about Doan with just a slight I-told-you-so tone.
“That was about what I expected from Shane in the playoffs,” Tippett said. “… He’s got a lot of anxiety built up from not being in (the playoffs) for a while. “
Doan last played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2002. Being back on the big stage suited him well in Game 1.
“It’s one of those things where you feel like a young kid again and you can’t wait to get out there for every single shift,” Doan said, “and you just want to win, baby, just win.“
Reach Dave Vest at firstname.lastname@example.org