Let’s play a little game of good news/bad news for the Phoenix Coyotes, who will hold home ice advantage as the third seed against the sixth-ranked Chicago Blackhawks.
On the very bright side, Dave Tippett engineered his greatest accomplishment with Phoenix so far as the team won its first division title. The bummer is that there’s no guarantee that they’ll play another season in the desert – even after three consecutive trips to the playoffs.
Want more? The good news is that they won’t face the Detroit Red Wings after being spurned by them for two straight years. The bad news is that they’ll draw another former Stanley Cup-winning Central Division team with a lot of firepower in the Blackhawks.
It looks like another battle of strength vs. strength as the Blackhawks’ offense takes on a Coyotes team that’s very tough to score on. Chicago has stars like Jonathan Toews (if healthy), Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Brent Seabrook. The Coyotes have a dark horse Vezina candidate in goalie Mike Smith and some quietly effective scorers in veteran Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata.
Really, it might be as much a story of explosiveness (Blackhawks) vs. stability (Coyotes). One big factor is the Blackhawks’ weak road record, as they’re just 18-18-5 away from the United Center.
It should be interesting, so feel free to share gut reactions.