Tonight the Phoenix Coyotes will be facing off against the Chicago Blackhawks for the second time of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Coyotes are up 1-0 on the series with a 3-2 overtime victory against the Hawks at home on Thursday. A lot of people were doubting the Coyotes going into this series, they saw this as another first round that the Coyotes have to play against a recent Stanley Cup Champion team that is more skillful then them. The first game though the Coyotes went out strong, they played like they wanted to win more. They may not have played to their full potential, but they played good enough to win the first round, and now its time for them to win the second.
The Coyotes did several things right against the Blackhawks on Thursday, the played hard, they scored when they needed to, and most importantly they won the game. The Coyotes have one thing that the Blackhawks can't have though, they are going to be going into the game with momentum, a hot goalie, and the home ice advantage. Also they have a major advantage that they didn't have the first game, they are going to have Radim Vrbata. Vrby left the game early, he only played 30 seconds, and the absence of the Coyotes leading goal scorer was noticeable. If he is back and close to 100% expect a bit more Coyotes offense.
The Blackhawks came out and said that Phoenix played how they thought they would, and they know what the Coyotes identity is. They are also talking about what they need to alter for game 2, they are looking for more traffic in front of Smith, more puck control, and a better power play unit. Chicago is a team that learns what they need to do and they do it so expect them to take the lessons they learned from the first game and come out stronger for the second. There is an entirely different possibility though, if the Yotes have a lead against the Blackhawks its entirely possible that the Hawks will get frustrated and make mistakes, and the Coyotes are great at capitalizing on the other teams mistakes.
Five For Winning:
1. Puck possession: The Yotes didn't have this as much last game, Chicago had a fair amount of control over the puck, which is why the Coyotes had to check them more. The Coyotes need to up their possession game, keep the puck and when they need to get it deep.
2. Physical play. The Coyotes were great at this last time, they checked hard and often and it kept the Blackhawks down. Only clean checks though, we don't want to risk any kind of suspension.
3. Score first. This didn't happen last time, Chicago scored early in the first and the Coyotes didn't tie it up until the next period. With Chicago's offense we really don't want to give them any kind of advantage.
4. Special teams. The penalty kill was great during the last game, not allowing the Hawks to capitalize on their power plays but the power play unit left us wanting. If you are given a 5-on-3 opportunity you have to convert, and hopefully the return of Vrbata will give them the energy they need to score some of those goals.
5. Play to the crowd. Another White Out another sell out game. The crowd at Jobing.com Arena is going to have the same if not similar energy as they did on Thursday. They want a win, the Yotes have to give them that win.
#17 / Right Wing / Phoenix Coyotes
Jun 13, 1981
|2011 - Radim Vrbata||35||27||62||24||24|
Radim Vrbata didn't really have a chance to shine last game, being injured seconds into his time on ice. If Vrby gets a chance to play some serious minutes he will definitely show the Hawks why he has 35 goals this season.
#19 / Center / Chicago Blackhawks
Apr 29, 1988
|2011 - Jonathan Toews||29||28||57||17||28|
To be honest some of us weren't sure exactly how Jonathon Toews was going to play after coming back from his concussion, but he came out strong with the first goal of the game. The Yotes did a fairly good job of containing him though, he was checked a fair amount, although he later told the press he expected a little more so why not give it to him.
#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes
Mar 22, 1982
|2011 - Mike Smith||67||3903||38||18||144||2.21||2066||1922||.930||8|
Mike Smith was great, only allowing two goals from a skillful Chicago offense. He is going to need to keep up that skill though, Chicago is not likely to lighten up on shots any time soon.
#50 / Goalie / Chicago Blackhawks
Dec 31, 1984
|2011 - Corey Crawford||57||3218||30||17||146||2.72||1507||1361||.903||0|
Corey Crawford played very well against the Coyotes, only allowing 3 goals. The Coyotes need to keep testing him though, shots from everywhere, people in front of the net to tip in the puck, stuff like that. Crawford is one of the weaker links for Chicago, keep hammering him and he will hopefully break.
No Coyotes Injuries
Chicago Blackhawks Injuries
Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)
|Player||Injury Type||Injury Date|
Remember to come back here tonight for the game thread and you can go over to Second City Hockey to check their perspective.