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Pick 'em: Coyotes vs. Red Wings

OT item: Don Waddell finally moves out of the GM chair in Atlanta, and it's a promotion to focus on the business side. Remind anyone of Milbury's exit? They also completely wiped out the coaching staff, likely so Rick Dudley can leave his mark.

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Phoenix is a nice story and all, but I'm just happy there's another Western time zone team in the playoffs. That makes addictive playoff watching from dusk 'till dawn more plentiful. Plus, if your eye is on summer free agents for the Islanders, the Coyotes have one worth watching in defenseman Zbynek Michalek.

I'm putting these mini-previews and polls up before each playoff series starts -- partly as a forum to talk about any of the series you want and partly to suss out if any of you have secret or not-so-secret rooting interests. My other rooting interest is the Blues -- so yeah, it's been a rough decade. Other polls are here (NJ-Ph) and here (Pit-Ott)

Wednesday, April 14 at Phoenix, 10:00 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
Friday, April 16 at Phoenix, 10:00 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
Sunday, April 18 at Detroit, 3:00 p.m. NBC, TSN
Tuesday, April 20 at Detroit, 6:30 p.m. TSN
*Friday, April 23 at Phoenix, 10:00 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
*Sunday, April 25 at Detroit, 2:00 p.m. NBC, TSN
*Tuesday, April 27 at Phoenix, TBD TSN
Phx-jettail_medium Det-wheel_medium
(4) Pheonix Coyotes (50-25-7) vs. (5) Detroit Red Wings (44-24-14)

What a great story for the Coyotes this season, a mammoth effort (with a healthy dose of shootout luck) from Dave Tippett and his squad. And what horrible luck to draw, after all that, the resurgent and healthy Red Wings. At least they probably get three home games out of the deal, no matter what. Unfortunately, the Wings bandwagon is strong and widespread, so even games in Glendale will have their share of obnoxious front-runners in red.

The Wings are experienced, tested, rested. It just doesn't look good for desert dogs. The teams split the season series, but the two Coyotes wins were in OT and none of the meetings were after January.

Despite the growing praise, Jimmy Howard is still an unknown in my book. For all we know he could be a mid-90s Osgood, which is adequate but also quite capable of implosion.

Reasons to Root for Phoenix: "Underdog" favorite, tough-luck story for players and fans...the whiteout is cool...the #throwthesnake thing is a silly but welcome answer to Detroit's tired octopus. On the eve of their first playoffs since Keith Tkachuk had hair, the 'Yotes may have a new owner, even if the process appeared shady to the end.

Reasons to Root for Detroit: ...what, have you no soul? The Wings do play an impressive game; Mike Babcock is a great coach. If you're purely into hockey and unaffected by the subjective whims that fuel most fans, I guess you gotta respect that.

Reasons to Pick Phoenix: Ilya Bryzgalov is capable of putting multiple show-stopping performances together.

Reasons to Pick Detroit: Uh, well, the Wings do play an impressive game; Mike Babcock is a great coach. When they're healthy, this series should be a challenge, but one the Wings have had no trouble tackling the past few years.

My Picks, So I Don't Hide Behind My Poll

Head Says: Red Wings in five, though I really don't want that to happen. Heart Says: How cool would it be to see the Coyotes win Game 7 at home?