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by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
GLENDALE -- The Coyotes practiced Monday at Arena for just over an hour as they prepare for their first-round playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings were expected to arrive in the Valley late Monday. Game 1 is Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Reporters swarmed captain Shane Doan, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and many of the other players in the dressing room after practice to get their thoughts on playing the defending conference champs in the first round. To a man, the players said they would not be intimidated to play the Red Wings.

I believe them.

I asked Bryzgalov what he expected in the series. “I don’t expect anything,” he told me. “I cannot predict the future.”

Without question, Bryzgalov's performance will be the main key for the Coyotes against the Red Wings, who have won 16 of 21 post-Olympics games.

“It doesn’t matter what you do, if your goalie outplays theirs you’ve got a better chance to win,” Doan said. “It’s the simplest thing.”

The intensity of playoff games is much higher than the intensity of regular season games. Nobody takes a shift off and every check is finished. To help prepare their teammates, Doan and alternate captain Ed Jovanovski cranked up their intensity at Monday’s practice. Jovanovski delivered some hard checks during the drills, including one on forward Lauri Korpikoski that raised the eyebrows of many observers.

Head Coach Dave Tippett liked what he saw from his leaders.

“Obviously you don’t want to get anybody hurt in practice but I’m a big believer that you play like you practice, and I thought two guys that really had strong intent today in practice were Doan and Jovanovski,” Tippett said. “And that’s them recognizing the situation and how hard it’s going to be and (saying) let’s make sure we’re ready.”

Center Robert Lang, a former Red Wing with 87 NHL playoff games on his resume, again skated with teammates and may be ready to play in this series by the weekend. Lang has been nursing a lower-body injury and hasn’t played since March 4. Lang has notched 18 goals and 27 assists in the postseason.

The Coyotes will practice again on Tuesday. The practice is closed to the public.

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