By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – The Coyotes will attempt to extend their winning streak to four games Thursday night when they host the Detroit Red Wings at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m.
“I think we can catch them by surprise,” Coyotes forward Scottie Upshall said. “They haven’t seen us play yet this year. We really know what to expect from them. I think they might not really know what we’re all about so far.”
The Coyotes (5-2-0) are all about a commitment to defense in all three zones under new Head Coach Dave Tippett. Through seven games, Phoenix has allowed just 10 goals.
Ilya Bryzgalov, who was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week for his play last week, is expected to start in goal for the Coyotes. Bryzgalov is 5-1-0 with a 1.14 goals-against average.
Detroit (3-3-1), which has yet to win a road game this season, is hoping forward Pavel Datsyuk is healthy enough to return to the lineup after missing two games because of an upper-body injury.
Per usual, the Coyotes are bracing to play the Red Wings with lots of Detroit fans in the arena rooting against them on their home ice.
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett remembers the same dynamic in Dallas when he coached against Detroit there for six seasons.
"You've got people coming into your building who are cheering against you, that's strong motivation," Tippett said. "If we didn't beat Detroit at home . . . I got an earful from my wife because she had somebody sitting beside her cheering for Detroit. That's never a good situation. You want to play well at home, that's just the way it is."
Coyotes forward Scottie Upshall has scored a goal in each of the past two games, and has three on the season. His blast past Bruins goalie Tim Thomas on Saturday was arguably Phoenix's prettiest goal of the season.
Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom has scored three goals in the past four games. Furthermore, his recent five-game point streak was snapped on Saturday vs. Colorado.
The Coyotes are off to their best start through seven games since 2000-01 when they began with a 6-1-0 record. On Thursday, Phoenix will look to win for the sixth time in its first eight games of a season for just the third time in franchise history (2000-01 and 1982-83).
The Coyotes have scored seven goals in their past two games. Four of those goals have been scored by defensemen. It will be interesting to see if the Phoenix blueliners are as aggressive offensively vs. the Red Wings.
Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have been scoring machines vs. Phoenix the past three seasons. Datsyuk has notched five goals and 23 assists in 12 games during that time. Zetterberg has notched 11 goals and 10 assists in 11 games.
"I think we're playing a real good and real tight system right now. Guys are buying into it."