9PM Jobing.com Arena Glendale, AZ
TV: Comcast Sports Net Chicago
Radio: 720 AM WGN
All the talk is over its time to drop the puck and let the quest for 16 wins begin. After one of the most eventful first nights of the Stanley Cup playoffs I can remember, the Blackhawks and The Phoenix Coyotes start their best of seven series tonight. The Coyotes won 3 of the 4 regular season games against the Hawks including both games in Arizona. They won their last 5 games of the regular season in route to their first ever division title. Former Blackhawk Radim Vrbata, who had a career high 35 goals, scored 5 goals in those final 5 games. Ageless wonder Ray Whitney had 6 (2 G, 4 A) of his team leading 77 points against the Blackhawks this year. Goalie Mike Smith has rightfully gained the national spotlight with his stellar play the last 10 weeks of the season. He has given up only 2 goals in his last 5 starts. He has been on fire but he will give up some juicy rebounds so Blackhawk forwards need to be in front of the net. Smith was 3-0 with a 1.30 GAA and a .959 save % in 3 games versus the Hawks. The Coyotes announced that Adrian Aucoin, who missed the last 2 games, will be playing tonight. Hopefully we see Viktor Stalberg blow his doors off a few times tonight.
The Blackhawks will be at 100% tonight as captain Jonathan Toews will make is long awaited return to the lineup. He will center a line with Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane. That’s a pretty damn good first line if I may say so myself! Dave Bolland and Andrew Brunette will both return as well tonight. Bolly loves playoff hockey and Bruno can be a big boost on the 4th line. Speaking of the 4th line, it will be interesting to see who joins Brunette and Jamal Mayers. I sure hope Q doesn’t think playing Brandon Bollig is a good idea. Michael Frolik should be out there in my opinion. Sean O’Donnell gets the call over Dylan Olsen as the 6th defenseman. That makes me a little itchy. Corey Crawford gets the start in net, of course. He was 1-1 with a with 4.29 GAA and a .830 save %. The Hawks have far more depth than the Yotes so they need to take advantage of it. They will need to get to Mike Smith early and not allow him to get comfortable in the crease. And maybe, just maybe a little contribution from the power play. Can’t wait for the puck to drop. I already have the pregame butterflies going!
Tags: Adrian Aucoin Andrew Brunette Brandon Bollig Chicago Blackhawks Corey Crawford Dave Bolland Jamal Mayers Jonathan Toews Marian Hossa Michael Frolik Mike Smith Patrick Kane Phoenix Coyotes Radim Vrbata Ray Whitney Stanley Cup Playoffs Viktor Stalberg