Phoenix Coyotes @ Chicago Blackhawks Game 4: Go For A 2 Game Lead

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 17: Mike Smith #41 and Ray Whitney #13 of the Phoenix Coyotes celebrate a win against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on April 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Coyotes defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Tomorrow the Phoenix Coyotes will be facing off for the second time this week against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. The Yotes won the past game at the United Center in overtime with a goal from Mikkel Boedker, putting the Coyotes up 2-1 for the series. The Yotes are going to need to fight to build that lead, they have been having some line up problems with players being injured like Martin Hanzal and Lauri Korpikoski and Raffi Torres receiving a suspension for his hit on Chicago's Marian Hossa.

Despite some setbacks the Coyotes have still managed to win though, they played the entire third game without Hanzal and Korpi, and after he delivered the hit Torres didn't seem to be himself, luckily players like Boedker, Rostislav Klesla, and Ray Whitney stepped up with goals. The Wizard had previously been kinda quiet during the playoffs but he seems to have woken up with his goal and 9 shots on goal, a franchise record for SOG during a playoff game. Hopefully The Wizards goal is a sign that the Prime Line is going to be stepping up the offense, although without Hanzal they may not have the same chemistry, although Antoine Vermette has been playing with Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney and his play has been pretty solid during the first two.

The Blackhawks have not had much success against the Yotes at their home this season. The Yotes won the 2 regulation games and the United Center, and they lost the first playoff game their. That being said they played pretty solid their last game, they managed to score first and they stole the momentum after the Coyotes tied the game the first time. Corey Crawford has remained pretty solid throughout the series in the net, and he is likely to keep up that level of play for the next few games. The Hawks did suffer a pretty big setback with the loss of Marian Hossa, who is going to be sitting out for this game at least, but that may motivate them to rally back against the Coyotes.

Five For Winning

1. Score first. The Coyotes have yet to score first against the Blackhawks during this playoff series which is allowing Chicago to set the pace of the game. The Yotes need to break this trend, take an early lead and maintain it. Its time we had hockey the easy way.

2. Play 20 minute periods and a 60 minute game. Another problem the Yotes have had is that they allow late goals. Last game it was during the last minute of the first period, the first two games it was the last minute of the third period.

3. Physical play. The Coyotes have been good at this, they have played very physical games that can ruin the Blackhawks momentum and keep them in the game. That being said they need to keep it clean.

4. Special teams. The penalty kill has been pretty good during the last few games, only allowing one goal during the series so far. The power play needs to step it up though and capitalize on the opportunities that Chicago gives them when they take penalties.

5. Finish in regulation. Our hearts can't take more overtime. Plus a contest of scoring first doesn't really favor us.

Key Players


Ray Whitney

#13 / Left Wing / Phoenix Coyotes

5-10

180

May 08, 1972



G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Ray Whitney 24 53 77 26 28

Hopefully Tuesday's goal means that the Wizard is stepping up and is going to be scoring a lot more goals. We need him to lead the offense during the playoffs.


Brent Seabrook

#7 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks

6-3

218

Apr 20, 1985



G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Brent Seabrook 9 25 34 21 22

There is not a Chicago Blackhawks player who makes me more nervous when he has the puck than Brent Seabrook during this series. He needs to be watched and controlled for the rest of the series.

Starting Goalies


Mike Smith

#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes

6-4

215

Mar 22, 1982



GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2011 - Mike Smith 67 3903 38 18 144 2.21 2066 1922 .930 8

Mike Smith has remained solid during the stretch, he hasn't really allowed any soft goals that come to mind. He needs to keep up this level of play for the next few games though, although he seems to be up to the task.


Corey Crawford

#50 / Goalie / Chicago Blackhawks

6-2

200

Dec 31, 1984



GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2011 - Corey Crawford 57 3218 30 17 146 2.72 1507 1361 .903 0

Crawford was thought to be the weak link of the Chicago system but he has remained solid during the series. The Yotes need to keep shooting on him though, Boedker proved that shots from anywhere can go in during the playoffs.

Injuries


Phoenix Coyotes Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Lauri Korpikoski other-excused 04/18/2012

Martin Hanzal is likely to be a game day decision this game as well.


Chicago Blackhawks Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Daniel Carcillo knee 01/03/2012

Marian Hossa will be resting during this game. At the time of writing this there hasn't been an official report on his injury.

Remember to come by tomorrow for the game day thread and you can head over to Second City Hockey to check out their perspective.

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