Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Coyotes blue-line depth tested

Categories: DET vs. PHO, Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes

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Ed Jovanovski, seen in Game 1 of the series for Phoenix, has battled injuries in the second half of the season. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press) Ed Jovanovski, seen in Game 1 of the series for Phoenix, has battled injuries in the second half of the season. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

Already down 2-0 in their Western Conference quarter-final series against the Detroit Red Wings, as the Phoenix Coyotes returned home to prepare for Game 3 of the series Monday at Arena, the last thing they needed was more bad news.

Instead, they got some good news. Coyotes coach Dave Tippett sounded like a man who expected to see defenceman Ed Jovanovski in the lineup for Game 3. He should be fine, was what Tippett said about the status of Jovanovski, who left Game 2 with what was termed an upper-body injury.

Jovanovski missed much of the second half of the season after suffering a fractured orbital bone and has played in the playoffs wearing a full faceshield.

Already minus Derek Morris also out with an upper-body ailment the Coyotes could ill afford to lose another veteran defenceman, especially a key cog such as Jovanovski.

"There's two sides to Jovo," Tippett said. "He's a very vocal leader in our dressing room. One of our leaders from his veteran mentality. His game off the ice is very strong.

"On the ice, he can be a very robust guy. He plays with a great deal of energy and can really give our team a lift at times with brute force. It's taken him a few games to get back up and going, but he's certainly very valuable to our team."

Morris took part in an optional skate Sunday, his first time on the ice since he suffered his injury.

"That's a good sign", Tippett said, listing Morris as a question mark for Game 3.

Dazzling Datsyuk

Detroit centre Pavel Datsyuk has been the dominant performer in this series, with five points in the two games, but his presence has caught no one on either side off guard.

"I don't get surprised anymore," Detroit forward Dan Cleary said of Datsyuk. "He's a special player with a great work ethic.

"We're all very thankful he's on our team."

Coyotes captain Shane Doan admitted he can be thrilled by Datsyuk's dynamic puck plays, when he's not defending him.

"As a player you want to do anything you can to stop him," Doan said. "But as a fan, hes so much fun to watch. You tip your hat to the things he does and the way he plays."

Hurry Back, Hank

Certainly, Datsyuk's stepping up for Detroit has proven even more significant due to the absence of Wings centre Henrik Zetterberg, out with a sprained knee.

"I feel I miss him a lot," Datsyuk said. "This is for sure. Hopefully, he comes back soon and helps us.

"He had a good season. I need his help."

Zetterberg skated with the Wings in practice Sunday, but won't play Game 3.

He went on the ice [Saturday] and tweaked it right away,'' Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Sometimes when you have an injury and you tweak it, you're alarmed, but two seconds later it went away."

Zetterberg skated for about an hour Sunday, but didn't put much stock in his performance.

"I don't know if I did that much," he said. "I wasn't really into battling drills."

Maintenance Day

Johan Franzen, his face checkered with 23 fresh stitches since the playoffs began, was given the day off Sunday. Mike Modano skated in his spot alongside Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom, but the Wings indicated it was just a rest for Franzen and he'd definitely go in Game 3.

Doan, who delivered the hit that resulted in most of the damage to Franzen, was still left defending himself Sunday, even though there was no penalty on the play.

"Its part of the game," Doan said. "He didnt like the fact that he got hit. He tried to hit me as much as I tried to hit him.

"There's nothing to it. He tried turning his body up to me. I didnt hit him that hard, he went in awkwardly. I know he was looking at me and I think he was trying to bump and turn and take the puck back up the wall."