ROMULUS, Mich. (AP) – The Detroit Red Wings swept a series during the 2008 playoffs and they ended up hoisting the Stanley Cup. They did it again the next year and fell one win short of repeating.
Detroit hopes eliminating the Phoenix Coyotes in four games leads to another long run this postseason.
“We didn’t do a very good job last year in the first round,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Thursday afternoon.
The Red Wings were pushed by Phoenix to seven games a year ago in the first round and they were bounced in the second round by San Jose in five games.
“We saw the effects of what an extended series can do last year,” Danny Cleary said. “So, it was a big win.”
Detroit beat the Coyotes 6-3 without two its best players.
Henrik Zetterberg, the team’s leading scorer during the regular season, didn’t play the entire series because of an injured left knee. Johan Franzen, who led the Red Wings with 28 goals during the season, missed Game 4 with an injured left ankle.
“Hank could’ve played this weekend if we had to play,” general manager Ken Holland said. “The break is going to be great for him, but more so for Mule.”
Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP three years ago when the Red Wings won their fourth Cup since 1997. They swept Colorado in the second round that postseason.
Franzen had 23 points in as many playoff games in 2009 when Detroit opened the playoffs with a sweep against Columbus and closed with a Game 7 loss at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a Stanley Cup finals rematch.
Despite missing Zetterberg for all four games and playing without Franzen for one game plus parts of Game 2, the Red Wings averaged 4 1/2 goals a game against Phoenix.
“We had 13 different scorers in four games,” Holland said. “If you’re going to go anywhere, it’s hard to count on two or three people to carry the team night after night.”
After four good nights on the ice and a travel day, Detroit will practice Friday before taking two days off.
The Red Wings will have to wait for the other three series in the Western Conference to be completed – and that might be as late as April 27 – before finding out who they will play in the second round.
“We wanted to get the break,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “And now that we’ve have it, it’s good for us to relax and get some much-needed rest and to actually hang out with our families, which you normally don’t get to do during the playoffs.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)