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Coyotes v Blackhawks - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Quarterfinals

Five reasons Hawks ousted in first round again

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

The Chicago Blackhawks made it their stated goal to not only get back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a fourth straight year, but return to the form that helped them win a championship in 2010.

They accomplished the first part of it by adding some veteran "grit" through free agency and then picking up puck-moving defenseman Johnny Oduya at the trade deadline, but the Blackhawks' season ended in the first round, just like a year ago.

The Phoenix Coyotes snuffed out Chicago's bid for a run at the Stanley Cup in six games of a Western Conference Quarterfinal series that saw the first five decided in overtime and every game closely contested.

Here are the five biggest reasons the Blackhawks couldn't finish as champions:

1. "Madhouse" goose egg was maddening

They didn't set the NHL record for consecutive home wins like the rival Detroit Red Wings, but the Blackhawks still went 27-8-6 at United Center and were great there against most opponents. However, they dropped both regular-season contests to the Coyotes and that trend continued in the playoffs.

Hawks frustrated by season-ending loss

Tim Cronin - Correspondent

CHICAGOJonathan Toews sat with his arms crossed and looked straight ahead in the Chicago Blackhawks' locker room, trying to make sense of it all.

Mike Smith
Goalie - PHX
RECORD: 4-2-0
GAA: 1.81 | SVP: 0.950
The Hawks fired 241 pucks at Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith in six games.

Smith stopped all but a dozen of them, including all 39 shots he faced in Monday night's series-clinching 4-0 shutout of Chicago at the United Center.

"We worked so hard, we had so many chances, and every time we had a chance and it didn't go in, we said, 'Keep working, we'll get another one. It'll go in eventually,'" Toews said. "It just didn't. We didn't get the bounce we needed to win the game. Simple as that."

Hawks arrive late back in Chicago

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Apparently, overtime isn't limited to just the ice for the Chicago Blackhawks in this Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Phoenix Coyotes.

After winning the series' fifth straight OT game 2-1 on Saturday night at Arena, the Blackhawks needed extra time to get home for Monday's Game 6 at United Center. The Hawks were supposed to arrive at O'Hare Airport mid-afternoon on Sunday and meet with the local media upon arrival.

Instead, thanks to some issues with the plane, the Hawks' charter jet didn't touch down in the Windy City until roughly five hours after originally scheduled.

Coyotes hope to finally seal the deal

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. – It's the most repeated mantra in Stanley Cup Playoff lingo: That series-closing, euphoria-bringing, fourth win is the hardest to get.

In the case of the Phoenix Coyotes, however, hard has become downright impossible.

"I know better than anyone it's the hardest to win," said Phoenix captain Shane Doan, who has been in Arizona for all 15 seasons and helped the Coyotes to the playoffs eight times, "Because I’ve never done it."

Or to paraphrase Coyotes' most famous fan, Alice Cooper, "Welcome to Our Nightmare."

Since moving to Arizona in 1996, the Coyotes have had seven chances to win one hockey game and earn the first-round playoff series win that has eluded them since 1987. That is seven chances to bring down the curtain take another step toward the Stanley Cup and energize a wait-and-see fan base in the desert.

Leddy's play has been well ahead of his age

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

If he'd stayed at the University of Minnesota, Nick Leddy would only be a junior right now.

Instead, he's playing 19:44 a game for the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs a little more than a month after his 21st birthday. He's also got an NHL caliber playoff beard just two weeks into the postseason.

"Mine's coming in pretty good," Leddy joked recently. "Last year, [Patrick Sharp] called me the 20-year old going on 30 because he said I looked 35 or something."

The same could be said for some aspects of Leddy's game, and that's not the beard talking.

Leddy's career path has been on the fast track ever since the Minnesota Wild took him 16th overall in the 2009 NHL Draft and then dealt his rights to Chicago in 2010 along with Kim Johnssen in exchange for Cam Barker.

Hawks and Coyotes tie OT record

The Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes are going to overtime. Again.

For the fifth straight game in this Western Conference Quarterfinal series, the Blackhawks and Coyotes will need more than regulation to determine the winner. Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy erased a 1-0 deficit midway through the third period at Arena after Gilbert Brule broke a scoreless tie early in the second.

Statement from Raffi Torres

Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres issued the following statement today.

"My main concern is for the healthy recovery of Marian Hossa, and I hope that he will be able to get back on the ice to compete again soon. I sincerely regret injuring Marian.

Regarding the severity of the suspension issued, I will take the next few days to decide whether or not to appeal the decision."

Hawks have measured approval of suspension

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With Marian Hossa's equipment hanging in his usual locker in the visiting dressing room at Arena, his Chicago Blackhawks teammates reacted with measured approval to the 25-game suspension Phoenix winger Raffi Torres received for the hit Tuesday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals series that injured Hossa.

"(Torres) is going to have to live with (his actions)," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. 'I'm sure a lofty suspension like that would make any player kind of rethink their actions. Maybe he doesn't think it was such a normal hockey play anymore."

But with Hossa home in Chicago recovering from injuries sustained from the hit, the Blackhawks said even this punishment only does so much.

"We take little satisfaction seeing some justice there, but Hossa is still at home not feeling like himself," Toews said. "We're still hoping he's going to make a full recovery. At the same time, it doesn't bring him back into our lineup and make him feel right again."

Coyotes ready to move on from Torres' suspension

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One game away from winning their first playoff series in 25 years, the Phoenix Coyotes were intent on making sure the 25-game suspension given to forward Raffi Torres on Saturday would not affect their preparation.

Torres took to the ice after the team portion of the morning skate and took shots with his teammates, but had no comment. A statement from the player, through his agent, is expected later Saturday.

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said the issue was addressed with the team before the morning skate prior to Game 5 and said the matter is now closed. Phoenix plays Chicago on Saturday night and holds a 3-1 lead in the series.

"The League has made its decision and there is nothing we can do about it now," he said. "We'll deal with it as a club and Raffi has to deal with it; but our focus is solely on what we have to do tonight. It's an unfortunate incident, but the League has had their say and we move on.

Coyotes' Torres suspended 25 games

NEW YORK -- Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres has been suspended for 25 games for launching himself to deliver a late hit to the head of Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa during Game 3 of the teams' Western Conference Quarterfinal playoff series in Chicago on Tuesday, April 17, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

Should the 25 games not be served by the conclusion of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the remaining games of the suspension will carry over into the following regular season. Torres will be prohibited from playing in any preseason games until he has served this 25-game suspension (playoff and regular-season games).

Should the suspension carry over to next season, because he is classified as a repeat offender under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Torres will forfeit $21,341.46 in salary for every regular-season game in which he is ineligible to play.

The incident occurred at 11:42 of the first period. Hossa suffered an injury as a result of the hit.

Torres already has served one game of this suspension, Game 4 of the series in Chicago on Thursday, April 19. For a full explanation of the decision, complete with video, please click on the following link:

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