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Modano contributes in playoff debut

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Eight months ago, the Red Wings signed center Mike Modano to a one-year contract for his experience and battle-tested toughness in the playoffs.

It didn’t take long Wednesday for the 40-year-old Livonia, Mich., native to fulfill the team’s original desire to bring him into the fold last summer.

Modano was inserted into the lineup for Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals, replacing forward Johan Franzen who wasn’t able to go. Franzen (lower body injury) –
injured in Game 2 – skated in Wednesday’s pre-game warm-up. However, at one point he headed back to the team bench where he had a brief conversation with the team’s training staff.
The decision was then made to insert Modano into the lineup, where he made his playoff debut for the Red Wings in their series-clinching 6-3 win over the Coyotes. Wednesday’s game was his first playoff game in three years, and his 175th career postseason game.

"He's skating real well," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "Coming in and playing his first game, I thought he looked real good, too. So I think it was an easy transition for him to come in and play the way he did."

Modano, who missed 41 games of the regular-season with a wrist injury that required surgery, helped the Wings off to another quick start against the Coyotes. His assist on Tomas Holmstrom’s goal gave Detroit a 1-0 lead on the seventh shift of the game.

While Holmstrom’s goal will be widely remembered for the incredible no-look pass from Pavel Datsyuk that set-up Holmstrom, it was good to see Modano make an immediate impact.

BAD BOUNCES: The Coyotes picked up in Game 4 where they left off in Game 3 – scoring goals redirected off of Red Wings’ defensemen.

The Coyotes’ two first-period goals –by Taylor Pyatt and Shane Doan – were ricochets off of Jonathan Ericsson’s skate and Lidstrom’s skate, respectively.

In Game 3, former Wings forward Ray Whitney scored a third-period tally when his original shot was stopped by Jimmy Howard. However, a rebound came out in front, striking Wings defenseman Ruslan Salei in the backside and past Howard.

BALANCING ACT: The Wings had contribution from virtually everyone on the roster in the series win over the Coyotes. Detroit got goals from 13 different players with 16 of the 19 skaters figuring in the series scoring.

"It just shows the depth that we have, and not relying on a couple of guys to score and get the points," Lidstrom said. "It makes it hard to play against us when we have more depth that an contribute to the lineup. It just makes it hard to match-up against us."

The Wings were led in the series by Datsyuk’s six points (two goals, four assists) and Valtteri Filppula's five (goal, four assists).

BRING OUT THE BROOM: The Wings’ series sweep of the Coyotes in the 14th in franchise history, and the third under Babcock’s guidance. It also marked the first time that Phoenix has suffered a four-game sweep since moving from Winnipeg in 1996.

The Wings last swept a first round opponent in 2009 when they eliminated the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Western Conference quarterfinals.

AT IT AGAIN: Darren Helm has been a beast against Phoenix through the opening round of the playoffs. Game 4 was no different, as the speedy center set up Patrick Eaves’ goal, which tied the score at 2-2 late in the first period.

The play started when Helm pilfered the puck from Keith Yandle, but only after he flattened the all-star defenseman with bone-crushing check behind the Coyotes’ net.
Helm then skated the puck out in front and sent a pass across the slot, where Eaves fired a shot that beat Ilya Bryzgalov on the short side.

"He got the puck away from one of their D-men and went hard to the net with his stick on the ice," said Lidstrom, of Helm's play. "I thought that line played well, too. Even when they play in their zone, I thought they did a good job against Doan's line."

While Helm only logged 13:42 of ice-time, he gave the Wings a big adrenaline boast with his energetic play again. He finished with four shots and two hits.

WHAT WHITEOUT? The Coyotes’ marketing department has had a tradition of attempting to convince everyone at their home playoff games to wear white. It’s a tradition that began when the franchise was in Winnipeg.

Over the last two playoffs series – both against the Red Wings – the marketing initiative hasn’t fared very well, mainly because there are so many transplanted Michiganders who have relocated to Arizona.

For fans that attended Monday’s Game 3 at Arena, they were greeted with a free white Coyotes Whiteout T-shirt draped over the 17,310 seats. While the white shirts definitely stood out there were pockets of resistance – otherwise known as Red Wings’ fans, dressed in red.

There was far more of a Red Wings’ influence at Wednesday game, where white pom-poms adorned each seat in the arena.
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