Doan's Game 7 availability vs. Wings unknown
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Good news, Phoenix -- Coyotes coach Dave Tippett reported progress on Shane Doan's condition Tuesday morning.
The bad news, however, is it's still unknown whether the captain will play Tuesday in Game 7 (9 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS) against the Detroit Red Wings in this Western Conference Quarterfinal series at Jobing.com Arena.
Doan, who suffered an upper-body injury during the second period of Game 3 at Joe Louis Arena, once again will be a game-time decision. He has missed the past three games, and while he didn't skate Tuesday morning, only about a half-dozen of his teammates did.
"I noticed a big change (Monday)," Tippett said. "He was able to practice and compete and do some one-on-one stuff. We'll see. It's going in the right direction."
Phoenix dropped Games 4 and 5 without Doan in the lineup, but bounced back in impressive fashion with a 5-2 win at Detroit in Game 6. Tippett believes it was a big confidence booster for his club.
"I think it speaks volumes for how our group competes as a group," Tippett said. "Shane is obviously a great player for us and he's our captain, but the strength of a hockey team is all the parts -- not an individual part. Our leadership group is very big in that room. It's everybody all in together. I think that's one of the unique things about this group of players."
While a portion of the roster never has been in this situation, the Coyotes do have a small group that has. One of those players is 40-year-old defenseman Mathieu Schneider, who won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens at the age of 24.
"The main thing to keep in mind is that this is most fun that you can have in hockey," Schneider said. "Sometimes being a little naïve is better. I think everyone on the team is looking forward to it. Anything can happen in Game 7."
Schneider played three full seasons in Detroit after arriving via trade from Los Angeles in 2003, so he knows the pressure that is being felt in the opposition's dressing room. That immense pressure the Wings are under -- they've reached the Stanley Cup Final the past two seasons -- could work in the Coyotes' favor as they aim to advance to the second round.
"I played in Detroit … there's pressure to win every night, every series," Schneider said. "It's definitely a much different feeling being on the other side than it is being in this dressing room. It can be a good thing to be the underdog. Going back to Montreal, the year we won the Cup (1993), we were underdogs. It definitely takes some of the pressure off, but at the same time, you've got to get out there and play the game. Once the puck's dropped, it's anybody's ballgame."
Win or lose, this has been a remarkable season in Phoenix. From ownership issues to being picked by many to finish near the bottom of the League standings, the Coyotes are hoping this Cinderella story has a few more chapters left.
"The whole year has been kind of a year of growth for us," Tippett said. "Every time you add to that growth, it adds to the belief system that you can get things done the right way."
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