Western Conference Playoff Preview-#3 Coyotes vs #6 Blackhawks

 

Will he return Thursday night? (Rob Grabowski-USPRESSWIRE)

#3 Phoenix 42-27-13 97 points  vs #6 Chicago 45-26-11 101 points

 

Season Series

Phoenix 3-1 Chicago 1-2-1

Series Schedule

4/12 At Phoenix 9pm

4/14 At Phoenix 9pm

4/17 At Chicago 8pm

4/19 At Chicago 7pm

4/21 At Phoenix 9pm

4/23 At Chicago TBA

4/25 At Phoenix TBA

Phoenix

The Coyotes could be summed up as Nashville Lite.  They play a tight style with tough guys, if they score first its almost always over. The Coyotes were 32-4-6 when scoring first. This has to be a focus for the Blackhawks, since they were a team that seemed to sleep walk through most first periods this season.  Like the Predators they have a goalie that has played great most of this season, and he’s played out of his mind down the stretch. Phoenix does have one glaring weakness, its power play is the worst in the NHL in 13.8%.  One disadvantage that the Coyotes will have in the desert is any type of home ice advantage, as in any other warm weather city Blackhawks fans will fill up the Stadium and will almost have a United Center Southwest

feel to it. That said the Coyotes will have a great chance to win this series because they will have the advantage in the goal tending position, and as most fans know that a hot goalie can win a series or cup.

Leading Scorer- Ray Whitney 23G 54A 77 Points

Backstop- Mike Smith 38-18-10 .920 save% 2.56 GAA

Differnce Maker-Shane Doan- Experience Leader of the Coyotes. His offense and leadership will be heavily relied on to win the series.

Ex-Blackhawk Factor-Adrian Aucoin

Chicago

The Blackhawks had the tale of 3 different season.  First season they played a lot of weaker teams and outscored them which hid a lot of flaws. Going into the turn of the calendar year the Hawks were #1 in the Western Conference.  The inconsistent goal-tending  and poor power play was hidden until after the all-star break when the Hawks free falled into a 9 game losing streak. While in the midst of the streak they lost the services of their Captain for the rest of the regular season.  The third part of the season happened after the trade deadline when the only move by Stan Bowman was to pick up Johnny Oduya (and dump John Scott) The move worked and the suspect defense was solidified and the Hawks were pretty hot to end the season and gain the #6 seed. The flaw that is still present is the dreaded power play. A Smart Ass would say the first team to score on the power play in this series wins!!!  The True wild card will be the probable return of Jonathan Toews to the lineup! He adds all the little and big things that the hawks need from face off wins to special teams play.  If Toews returns healthy the Hawks could make another long playoff run.

Leading scorer- Marian Hossa 29g 48A 77 Points

Backstop- Corey Crawford 30-17-7 .903 save% 2.72 GAA

Difference Maker- The line of Bolland-Shaw-Bickell.  This line really came on strong at the end of the season which is surprising with Bryan Bickell being a part of it, but this line will be counted on to check the #1 line.  The playoffs is where Dave Bolland shines and thrives, he may get lost during the regular season but always brings his A game come playoffs.  Andrew Shaw is a great winger for this line for his grittiness and toughness and not afraid to mix it up is perfect for the task at hand.

Prediction-Hawks in 6. This will be a very difficult series for the Hawks without a lot of goals scored.  Crawford who played really well in the playoffs last season and down the stretch will need to be at the top of his game in every game of the series!  Toews trumps all in this series if he’s able to return without any return of concussion symptoms!

 

Topics: Andrew Shaw, Byran Bickell, Chicago Blackhawks, Corey Crawford, Dave Bolland, Jonathan Toews, Phoenix Coyotes, Ray Whitney, Shane Doan

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