Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
 
SHARE
Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 2:40 PM

By Tim Cronin -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Coyotes look forward to raucous atmosphere at UC

CHICAGO -- Road teams have the advantage so far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But a game hasn't been played in the United Center yet.

The building is loud, to be sure. But is it intimidating?

Phoenix forward Raffi Torres wouldn't go that far.

"It's a building where the fans know the game," Torres said. "It's pretty loud. They won a championship here. They're excited, as they should be. They've got a lot of fun players and keys to a winning team over there."

The capacity is just over 22,000, more than old Chicago Stadium held. That building was louder because there was cubic feet to fill with noise, but it's still ear-splitting when "The Star-Spangled Banner" is belted out.

"It's exciting," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said of the atmosphere. "Obviously, Chicago's got a great history, and it's fun to play in this building. The energy is awesome. The anthem is the biggest change (from other arenas). It's good for both teams."

The Hawks were 27-8-6 at home in the regular season, but Phoenix was 2-0 at the United Center, including 4-1 and 4-3 wins a week apart just after Thanksgiving.        
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 1:58 PM

By Tim Cronin -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Projected Game 3 lineups

CHICAGO -- With Martin Hanzal and Mike Smith listed as a game-time decisions for Phoenix, here’s how the lineups project for Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series between Chicago and Phoenix on Tuesday at the United Center:

COYOTES
Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon - Gilbert Brule
Raffi Torres - Daymond Langkow - Kyle Chipchura

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Adrian Aucoin
Rostislav Klesla - Michal Rozsival

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

Justin Pogge is expected to dress and back up LaBarbera if Smith is unable to play.
 
BLACKHAWKS
Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Viktor Stalberg
Andrew Brunette - Patrick Kane - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Andrew Shaw or Martin Frolik
Brandon Bollig - Marcis Kruger - Jamal Mayers

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya - Nick Leddy
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Sami Lepisto

Corey Crawford
Ray Emery

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 6:13 PM

By Tim Cronin -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Toews working through effects of long absence

CHICAGO - Jonathan Toews showed he had lost none of his touch when the Chicago Blackhawks center scored the first goal of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series with Phoenix on Thursday night. A flick of the wrist from a deep angle and goalie Mike Smith was fishing the puck out of the back of his net just 4:04 into Game 1.

But Toews, while mentally recovered from a concussion that caused him to miss the last 22 games of the regular season, is still feeling a bit creaky from the two-month layoff. Skating prior to returning brought his legs back, but not everything.

"For the most part, it's timing and speed; it's energy," Toews said Monday. "It's all those things, and it'll keep coming. I felt a did a few things better in the second game, whether it was faceoffs or chipping pucks out, options on the power play. Little things I improved on."

Toews played nearly 20 minutes (of nearly 70) in Game 1, and more than 17 minutes in Game 2, which also went halfway into the first overtime.

He's taking his usual role on the power play, was a combined plus-4 in the first two games, and appears to have not missed a beat. But he's a tough judge.

"I feel my game is slowly going to come together," Toews said. "It definitely wasn't all there the first two games, but I feel it'll keep improving."

Toews must be feeling well. He even half-cracked a smile when asked what the answer to keeping the momentum after scoring the game's first goal would entail.

"Probably trying to score the next one would be a solution to that," quipped Toews.

A funny line from Captain Serious in the Stanley Cup Playoffs? Go figure.


Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 6:10 PM

By Tim Cronin -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Bollig: First time for everything

CHICAGO -- A first NHL goal is a lifelong memory for any hockey player. It's that much sweeter when that first goal comes in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Check Brandon Bollig's blood-sugar level, then, for he scored goal No. 1 of his career in Game 2 of the Blackhawks' Western Conference Quarterfinal series with Phoenix.

"That it came in the playoffs and it tied the game up is an amazing feeling," Bollig said of scoring the Hawks' second goal in Saturday's 4-3 overtime win in Glendale, Ariz. "It was great to see the activity on my phone from people happy for me."

Bollig, an undrafted free agent signed by the Hawks two years ago, played 18 regular-season games and collected neither a goal nor an assist. Considered an enforcer, he plays that role well, but knows
he'll have to show more, or the next young kid who comes along will take his spot.

"Obviously what got me here was that physical side, that enforcer-type role, but yeah, I think what's going to make me stick is bringing more to the game than just that," he said. "That's what I'm trying to
prove."

Timely goals in playoff games will do that. For Bollig, just breathing before Game 1 was a triumph.

"Being a part of (the playoffs), I almost had to have the doc check my heart rate, it was so high," Bollig said. "It's definitely fun to be a part of games like that. You get a lot more amped up."

Whatever happens next, he'll have both the memory and evidence of it. The puck he got past Mike Smith will be mounted on a plaque for him.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 5:08 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Smith among players missing from Coyotes practice

Before the Coyotes and Blackhawks started their playoff series on Thursday, Phoenix coach Dave Tippett announced that his entire roster was healthy and ready to go for Game 1.

Four days and two games later, that picture had changed dramatically.

Goalie Mike Smith, center Martin Hanzal and left wing Lauri Korpikoski were all injured in Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss in Game 2 and all three did not practice with the team on Monday at the Ice Den in Scottsdale. Tippett wasn't interested in talking about their status for Tuesday night when the series resumes with Game 3 in Chicago.

"Our health is just fine. We have everyone under evaluation and that's where we're at. That's not a concern to us," Tippett said. When asked specifically about Smith, he said, "We're not talking about injuries. He's fine."

Smith was hit in the head by Chicago's Andrew Shaw in the second period of Game 2. He was attended to on the ice for several minutes but was able to stay in and finish the game. Shaw was given a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct, and will learn today at a hearing if he faces further discipline from NHL Director of Player Safety Brendan Shannahan.

If Smith can't play, the Coyotes will turn to backup Jason LaBarbera -- who played in only 19 games this season (3-9-3) and allowed five goals on 35 shots in a 5-2 loss to Chicago on Oct. 18 in Glendale. LaBarbera's last regular season win can Dec. 21 at Carolina -- he is 0-6-3 since.

Hanzal, who had the overtime game-winner for Phoenix in Game 1 on Saturday, appeared to suffer a lower-body injury in the first period of Game 2 and left the arena for further evaluation and treatment while the game continued. Hanzal plays between leading scorers Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata on Phoenix's top line and is also a big part of the power play and penalty-kill units as well as checking opposing top lines.

Before Game 2, Phoenix captain Shane Doan called Hanzal "probably our most valuable forward." If Hanzal can't play, Antoine Vermette, who leads all scorers in the series with three goals and had a pair in Game 2, would center the top line with veterans Boyd Gordon and Daymond Langkow seeing increased ice time and face-off duty.
 
Korpikoski was injured early in the third period when he was checked along the boards during a Phoenix power play. Korpikoski is also a key member of the Coyotes, seeing time in the power play and a key penalty killer who leads the team with three shorthanded goals this season.
 
Gilbert Brule, who was a healthy scratch in Game 2, would be the likely replacement if Korpikoski can't go.

On Monday night, the Coyotes announced that forwards Alexandre Bolduc and Marc-Antoine Pouliot were recalled from Portland of the American Hockey League, along with goaltender Justin Pogge. Portland did not qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 04.14.2012 / 10:18 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Hawks, Coyotes tweak lineups

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Both the Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes tweaked their lineups for Game 2 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals series Saturday.
 
Chicago started defenseman Sami Lepisto in place of Sean O'Donnell, who was a minus-2 in Phoenix's 3-2 overtime win on Thursday night. The Coyotes made a change in their fourth line, with Kyle Chipchura subbing for Gilbert Brule to give the Coyotes a more defensive look.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 04.14.2012 / 4:33 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Blackhawks happy with PP despite results

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Chicago Blackhawks' power play has been a disappointment all year and finished 0-for-10 to end the season. The Phoenix Coyotes ranked eighth in the NHL in the penalty kill this season and ended the season on a string of 25 straight penalty kills during a five-game winning streak.
 
But the Blackhawks felt they had some good chances during their four power plays in a 3-2 overtime loss Thursday in Game 1 to Phoenix. And they are hoping their special teams will help them get even as this Western Conference Quarterfinals series resumes tonight.
 
“All year our power play wasn’t good, but [in Game 1] we spent lots of time in their zone and we had good plays.” Chicago winger Marian Hossa said. “We just need to get an ugly goal and get it going.”
 
Hossa needs to get going as well. He hasn’t scored a goal since Mar. 20 at Columbus, a span of nine games.
 
The Blackhawks had two power-play chances in the third period when they took the play to Phoenix, but came up empty while trailing 2-1. Brent Seabrook saves them with a last-gasp goal with 14.2 second left in regulation to force overtime before Martin Hanzal won it for Phoenix.
 
“We had some decent looks. We had some pucks at the net and some second opportunities,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “We have to find a way to get those ugly goals that we had some chances on.”
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 04.14.2012 / 2:26 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Vrbata will play for Coyotes in Game 2

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Radim Vrbata, Phoenix’s leader this season with 35 goals, took part in the morning skate Saturday and will play against Chicago in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
 
“He’s going to play,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said.

 Vrbata was injured Thursday in the first shift of a 3-2 overtime win in Game 1 when he took a hard hit along the boards from Chicago’s Andrew Shaw. Vrbata went down hard and skated off the ice in a crouch.

But the man who was responsible for one out of every six Phoenix goals this season took part in the morning skate at Jobing.com Arena and is ready to go as the Coyotes seek to take a 2-0 lead in a playoff series for the first time since moving to Arizona in 1996.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Comment › |Print ›
Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 9:06 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Hawks have to make life tougher for Smith

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Chicago Blackhawks were aware they would be dealing with a talented and athletic goalie in Phoenix's Mike Smith during their Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

But after watching him make 43 saves and deftly handle their dump-in attempts in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Coyotes, making life tougher on Smith will be a priority for Game 2 on Saturday.

Smith turned lazy dump-ins by the Blackhawks into breakouts for his teammates. His defense kept the crease fairly clear and offered him a good look of most shots. And even on the two occasions when Smith lost his stick, Chicago was unable to get pucks to the net before he was able to regain his paddle.

"You have to be careful of giving him the puck because he's like an extra defenseman back there making plays," said forward Patrick Kane, who had seven of Chicago's 45 shots but came up empty. "We have to keep it away from him and make the defense play the puck."

That means more purposeful dump-ins - off the glass, hard-arounds that are difficult to handle of softer passes to the corners. Smith had 16 penalty minutes this season, the most of all NHL goalies by a wide margin, and can be coaxed out of position at times.

"Whether it's shots on net, second opportunities, keeping (the puck) out of his glove, putting it on the glass rims … he comes out and plays a lot of those pucks and we have to be more efficient and effective in those areas," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "We had some careless or not really a purpose behind some of our dumps. We have to make sure there is something behind it."

Making only his second career playoff start, Smith admitted to being jittery in the first period -- he gave up a soft goal to Chicago captain Jonathan Toews 4:04 into the game and was staying in his net more than normal. But as the game wore on and he settled down, Smith played the puck more and more and won his sixth straight start.

Smith has allowed only five goals in the last 237 shots he's seen, helping the Coyotes snap a five-game postseason losing streak -- all to the Detroit Red Wings -- dating back to Game 6 in 2010.

The Hawks know they can't make it easy for Smith to play the puck in Game 2.

"He's one of the top goalies in the League, and you have to keep the puck away from him," Chicago center Dave Bolland said. "We have to get bodies in front of him so he can't see that puck. It's a lot of little things that can cost you a game, but things that can help you win. I don't think we're that far away."

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 04.12.2012 / 5:20 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Blackhawks like experience of O'Donnell on blue line

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- In his 17th NHL season and closing in on his 41st birthday, Sean O'Donnell hasn't committed to this being his last NHL season.
 
But it could be, and Thursday he will play his 105th Stanley Cup Playoff game against one of the nine teams he's played for in his career, the Phoenix Coyotes.
 
O'Donnell played in 51 games this season and his role and ice time has been more muted. But a second Stanley Cup to bookend the one he raised in 2007 with Anaheim would be a great way to leave the stage. After sitting out the season finale against Detroit, he was tabbed to play alongside Niklas Hjalmarsson in Game 1.
 
"Unless you are an elite player, every game in this league is a tryout," said O'Donnell, who got the nod over rookie Dylan Olsen with Steve Montador still out with a concussion. "I think I've survived in this League for awhile playing a certain style. Just because it's the playoffs, I'm not going to change that. Keep it simple and do your job has worked real well."
 
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said it's that grit and experience -- on the road in the hostile atmosphere of the White Out in Arizona -- that led him to go with O'Donnell.

"Down the stretch he came in there and did a real nice job for us," he said. "We like his experience, we like his size and we like his thought process right off the bat."
 
Quenneville said he expected Montador to be on the ice as early as Thursday or perhaps this weekend, but said it was tough to say if he would be available in the series.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
First | Prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | Next | Last
Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic