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Phoenix Coyotes vs Chicago Blackhawks Series Preview: The Defensemen

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Overall the Chicago Blackhawks aren't known for their defense; of all the teams in the West that made it into the playoffs they allowed the most goals during the regular season. Most writers are giving Phoenix the edge on defense, mostly because Phoenix is known for having a defensive system, but in looking at the Hawks' three lines you'll see that they should not be taken too lightly. Only two of their regular defensemen have negative +/- numbers, although this can come from the fact that they have good offense, although past the top two pairs you probably aren't going to be seeing much offense being generated from Chicago defense.

Duncan Keith

#2 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks



Jul 16, 1983

G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Duncan Keith 4 36 40 15 42

Brent Seabrook

#7 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks



Apr 20, 1985

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

Chicago's top defensive pair is of course Assistant Captain Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Seabrook led all of Chicago's d with 9 goals this season, while Keith had the most points with 40 (4g, 36a). This line also has the best +/- of the three with Keith recording a +15 and Seabrook a +21. Keith is also going to be a man to watch for a different reason, a reason that the Canucks' Daniel Sedin will be happy to warn you about. The top line also has the most playoff experience for the Blackhawks. Keith has played in 46 playoff games with Chicago, recording 6 goals and 23 assists and Seabrook has played in 44 games, with 4 goals and 19 assists with 2 power play goals. Expect to see a lot of the top pair as they average almost 25 minutes on ice per game.

Nick Leddy

#8 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks



Mar 20, 1991

G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Nick Leddy 3 34 37 -12 10

Johnny Oduya

#27 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks



Oct 01, 1981

G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Johnny Oduya 3 15 18 -6 33

The second pair is also very impressive with the young Nick Leddy and Johnny Oduya. Oduya was a trade deadline addition to the team, coming over from the Winnipeg Jets and he's played well in Chicago with 1 goal and 3 assists and being noted as being a good puck moving d-man. Paired with him is the 21-year old Leddy who managed to get 37 points this season in his sophomore campaign. Both players here were negative for the season in +/-, although Oduya was actually a +3 with Chicago after having a -9 campaign in Winnipeg; Leddy was a minus 12. Oduya played in 18 playoff games with the New Jersey Devils and recorded 2 assists, while Leddy played in 7 playoff games with the Blackhawks last season and failed to record a point in fairly limited ice time.

Sami Lepisto

#20 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks



Oct 17, 1984

G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Sami Lepisto 1 2 3 3 4

Niklas Hjalmarsson

#4 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks



Jun 06, 1987

G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Niklas Hjalmarsson 1 14 15 9 14

The Hawks third line may be their weakest and features a familiar face for Coyotes fans. Fresh off a left leg injury is former Coyote, Sami Lepisto and veteran Niklas Hjalmarsson. Lepisto played in the season ender against the Red Wings, but he did not have a lot of ice time, and his numbers have not been all that impressive with only a goal and an 2 assists in 26 games with the Hawks this season. Niklas as the veteran should be watched, he has playoff experience with 46 games, a goal, and ten assists Despite their low point totals both these guys play solidly in their own end with +/- ratings of +3 for Lepisto and +9 for Hjalmarsson. While it's unlikely that Coach Quenneville will feel a need to hide any of his defensive units, expect to see a lot less of this third pairing than the other two.

Noticeably Absent

Steve Montador

#5 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks



Dec 21, 1979

G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Steve Montador 5 9 14 4 45

Currently nursing possible concussion like symptoms is Steve Montador, who was initially injured during a game against the Colorado Avalanche on February 7th, and then was re-injured playing against the New Jersey Devils on March 27th. ESPN reported on April 10th, that he was not skating with the team, the day they were scheduled to leave for Phoenix. He was playing very solidly for the Hawks before he was injured and similar play should be expected if he does manage to return for this series.

Overall Edge

Phoenix is the favorite on the defensive side, the system they played is geared towards defense. The key to Coyotes success is going to be getting the puck deep behind them and then just peppering the net.