They’ve won seven straight games, have beaten the Blackhawks in both meetings this season and, with a regulation victory, will be merely a single point behind the ‘Hawks in the Western Conference standings. Ladies and gentlemen, the NHL Phoenix Coyotes.
The Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde transformation of the Coyotes from last season is staggering. And to prove it’s not getting caught up in its own feel-good story, Phoenix went out and acquired Wojtek Wolski from Colorado, Lee Stempniak from Toronto and defensman Derek Morris from Boston at the trade deadline to bolster one of the most surprising lineups in the League.
While the Blackhawks have lost three of four games, blowing leads and watching player after player go down with injuries, the Coyotes have been consistently good. They’ve won 15 of 19, riding the play of Shane Doan and goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who boasts a 38-18 record with a 2.26 GAA and .922 SV%.
The Coyotes make up for one of the worst power plays in the NHL by leading the league in five-on-five goals for/against ratio. Coach Dave Tippett is a strong candidate for the Jack Adams Award. Actually, he’s probably already locked it up. These aren’t your dog shit Coyotes anymore, unfortunately.
To counter, the ‘Hawks will send Antti Niemi to the net tonight after recording his fifth shutout of the season Thursday against the Kings. Brent Seabrook is questionable for tonight and Kim Johnsson didn’t practice yesterday, meaning we’ll probably get another dose of Nick Boynton and Dustin Byfuglien on defense. Awesome.
I won’t elaborate much more on the ‘Hawks — you know what they need to do.
Brian Campbell speaks for the first time in regards to the hit by Alexander Ovechkin which sidelined him for the remainder of the regular season:
"Whatever he says isn’t going to change the fact I’m not going to be playing for a little while. I think the intent was there. If the intent is there, I don’t think you can really say you didn’t mean to do anything. So for me, I don’t need anything from him."
Second City Hockey is hosting another Blog Watch, this time at the Bottom Lounge. With faceoff at 8pm, I’m hoping I can make it at least for the third period after attending the Paul Sanchez show at Martyrs’ in Lincoln Park. Get on out there and support your local alcoholics!