Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 2/7/12
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Coyotes have faced the Red Wings so many times (23) over the past three seasons that they feel like Pacific Division opponents. We didnt even have a video (session) before (Mondays) game because we know them so well, Phoenix center Martin Hanzal said. We seem to play them over and over again. Which got us thinking: The NHL should institute a new rule for the playoffs. They could call it The Coyote Clause. If two teams have met each other two consecutive years in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, they cant open against each other a third straight year. We know the odds of that idea reaching fruition are considerably worse than the odds of someone buying this team, but the prospect of another first-round matchup between these clubs looks like even money or better. Chicagos team defense is nothing more than a rumor. St. Louis still has a pop-gun offense and zero playoff-race experience. Nashville has guts galore but lacks the talent to keep this pace up down the stretch. So we have the Wings penciled in for first place in the NHLs toughest division, the Central. That means either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The Coyotes might be able to climb as high as No. 7 if they can turn in more efforts like Mondays 3-1 win, but No. 8 is a more likely destination. Either way, a rematch of the rematch looks likely, which means a jam-packed Jobing.com Arena where you have to squint to determine whos who among the similar shades of red. Everywhere Detroit goes, the stadium is a mixed bag with lots of Red Wing fans, coach Dave Tippett said. If they do meet again, at least the Coyotes finally have something to hang their hats on. After dropping seven straight to the Wings -- including last seasons first-round playoff sweep -- the Coyotes did all the little things Tippett has been preaching to withstand a 31-shot Detroit barrage and what felt like a full-on siege near the end of the third period. The Coyotes got a second straight strong outing from goalie Mike Smith (30 saves). They limited most of Detroits chances to the perimeter. They went hard to the net and they kept their structure, intensity and work ethic consistent. They even got two goals from their special teams -- a shorthanded goal by Boyd Gordon to open the scoring and a power-play goal from the leagues 30th-ranked unit that deflected off Hanzals stick and leg because he was doing what hes supposed to do by creating traffic in front of the net. Hanzal also added an empty-netter, giving the two centers who missed a chunk of time during the middle of the season all the scoring while giving Tippett a glimpse of whats possible when his lineup is intact. It shows how much they mean to our team and how much we miss then when theyre out, he said. No matter who the Coyotes face among the elite teams of the West, they are bound to see a pair of top-line centers. Detroit has Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. San Jose has Joe Thornton and Logan Couture. Vancouver has Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler. Gordon and Hanzal are vital to matching up with those pairs, and Mondays game was a perfect example of the tempo the Coyotes will have to match. It was a very fast game, Tippett said. Seemed like in the first period, the first time I looked up when there was a whistle, there was about 10 minutes left to go in the period already. The Coyotes kept pace with the Wings this time, but they may have to do it a few more times in April. While Mondays game was billed by radio play-by-play man Bob Heethuis as the final meeting between the teams this season, history has taught us otherwise.
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