GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 14: Antoine Vermette #50 of the Phoenix Coyotes attempts to score on a rebound off goaltender Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime of Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on April 14, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Blackhawks defeated the Coyotes 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
For the Phoenix Coyotes, there were a lot of positives to take from the two games in Glendale, including holding leads in regulation with under a minute to go while having to shuffle lines to account for a growing body count among the forward ranks. Unfortunately, those two last minute goals make it really hard to focus on those positives at a time like this. But even with all of that, the series remains even and the Coyotes head into the United Center to face the Chicago Blackhawks in good position to take a game or two.
Andrew Shaw has been suspended 3 games for his run-in with Mike Smith (which I personally think is a bit much, but probably for the best), so no reason for the Coyotes not to be fully focused on getting the job done to win tonight's game without turning this into a Pittsburgh - Philly deathmatch.
An abbreviated preview today because it's my birthday and I have family stuff to do...so Go Coyotes and win this one as your birthday present to me, ok?!?!?
Five For Winning
1. Control the Building. The Coyotes are 4-1-1 at the United Center over the past 3 seasons, including a 2-0 record this year. They play well on the road and should be ready to play from the puck drop.
2. Stop the Slow Starts. Both games, the Coyotes have allowed Chicago to get a lead within the opening five minutes of the game. The Coyotes have excelled when they score first all season, time to get back to that winning formula.
3. Mike Smith, Martin Hanzal, Lauri Korpikoski and Radim Vrbata. I'm not sure that any of them are 100% or that all of them will even be taking the ice tonight, but they are heart and soul players for this team. Hopefully, they all play and make big impacts in this game.
4. Keep the Special Teams Special. Coyotes were 2 for 4 on the power play in game 2 and have killed off 6 of 7 penalties thus far. Those are not record setting numbers, but it has been good enough to put the team in a position to win.
5. Close it Out. Losing a lead 2 times in a row with less than 15 seconds on the clock is inexcusable. Ice it, flop on it, whatever...just don't let the Hawks put a puck on net with under a minute to go if you have a one goal lead.
For the Chicago perspective, check out Second City Hockey.