Hawks vs Coyotes

Series at a glance: Phoenix-Chicago playoff preview

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Schedule

All times are Eastern.

* – if necessary

Thursday April 12 in Phoenix @ 10 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, TSN)
Saturday April 14 in Phoenix @ 10 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, TSN)
Tuesday April 17 in Chicago @ 9 p.m. (CNBC, TSN)
Thursday April 19 in Chicago @ 8 p.m. (CNBC, TSN)
*Saturday April 21 in Phoenix @ 10 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, TSN)
*Monday April 23 in Chicago @ TBD (TBD)
*Wednesday April 25 in Phoenix @ TBD (TBD)

Three storylines to follow

1. Is this it for the Phoenix Coyotes? It’s not the first time the Coyotes have appeared to be on the brink of leaving Glendale, but things might be different this time. Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs has expressed extreme frustration over the long-lingering situation and the city’s financial support is one of the reasons the Coyotes have stayed in Glendale this long. This could be their final chance to shine before leaving town. Though again, we’ve heard that before.

2. The health of Jonathan Toews. Will Captain Serious be able to return from a concussion in time to play against the Coyotes? If he does, what sort of impact will he have after missing roughly two months? Toews is a huge part of the Blackhawks’ core and has averaged a point per game in 46 career playoff games.

3. Not-so-special teams. The Coyotes and Blackhawks were each in the bottom five of the league in terms of their power-play percentages. Chicago was also the fourth-worst squad in the NHL with a 78.1 penalty killing percentage. In that regard, the Coyotes were clearly superior after killing 85.5 percent of their penalties.

Records

Phoenix: 42-27-13, 97 points (1st in Pacific; 3rd in Western Conference) | Chicago: 45-26-11, 101 points (4th in Central; 6th in Western Conference)

Leading scorers

Phoenix: Ray Whitney (24G-53A-77PTS) | Marian Hossa (29G-48A-77PTS)

Starting goalies

Phoenix: Mike Smith (38-18-10, 2.21 GAA) | Chicago: Corey Crawford (30-17-7, 2.72 GAA)

Head-to-head

Phoenix won series 3-1
Oct. 18: Chicago 5, at Phoenix 2
Nov. 29: Phoenix 4, at Chicago 1
Dec. 5: Phoenix 4, at Chicago 3, SO
Feb. 11: At Phoenix 3, Chicago 0

Last 10 games

Phoenix: 7-1-2 | Chicago: 6-1-3

Playoff history

First meeting

2011 playoffs

Phoenix: Lost to Detroit 4-0 (Western Conference quarterfinals) | Chicago: Lost to Vancouver 4-3 (Western Conference quarterfinals)

Stanley Cups

Phoenix: None | Chicago: 4 (1934, 1938, 1961, 2010)

Injuries

Phoenix: None

Chicago: Dave Bolland (upper body), Andrew Brunette (foot), Steve Montador (concussion), Ben Smith (hip), Jonathan Toews (concussion), Daniel Carcillo (knee)

Preds entering key (and tough) stretch before trade deadline

Shea Weber, Roman Josi
AP
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Since an 11-3-3 start that saw them pile up 25 points in their first 17 games, the Nashville Predators have played 37 more times and gained just 33 points.

For comparison’s sake, in all 30 teams’ last 37 games, only the Montreal Canadiens (in the midst of a shocking collapse) and the Buffalo Sabres (just not very good) have gained fewer than 33 points.

So yeah, it’s been a struggle. The goaltending and defensive play have been sub-par. Offensively, it hasn’t been very good either.

The good news for the Preds is that they’re still in the playoff race. In fact, thanks in large part to the imploding Wild, Nashville currently occupies the final wild-card spot in the West.

With just nine games remaining before the Feb. 29 trade deadline, the players know they’re entering a key stretch.

“I’m sure David Poile and the management have a few different plans,” defenseman Barret Jackman told The Tennessean, “but our thoughts in this room are picking up points and being a playoff contender… and making this team better and making a run for the Stanley Cup.”

By the way, here are those next nine games…

preds

Pretty tough, right? Only Montreal and Toronto aren’t in a playoff spot.

Suffice to say, it would be a huge disappointment if the Preds ended up missing the postseason — especially after acquiring Ryan Johansen, the number-one center everyone kept saying they needed.

Johansen has actually been very good for them; he has 16 points in 14 games.

It’s the team as a whole that needs to pick it up, and soon.

Related: Preds believe Vesey could ‘come in and play right away’

No hearing scheduled for Gudas after big hit on Sabres rookie

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Flyers d-man Radko Gudas doesn’t have a disciplinary hearing scheduled for his hit on Buffalo’s Daniel Catenacci on Thursday night, an NHL spokesman has confirmed.

Gudas was given a five-minute charging major for laying out Catenacci late in the third period of Philly’s 5-1 win. The hit ended Catenacci’s night, a tough way for the 22-year-old to finish just his third NHL contest.

After the contest, Buffalo players and head coach Dan Bylsma didn’t mince words when it came to Gudas’ actions.

“I think there’s no question it’s head hit,” Bylsma said, according to the Buffalo News. “I know the league will look at that hit and deal with it.”

“That guy’s an idiot and stupid,” Foligno said of Gudas, per the Courier-Post. “He gets his hits in, he’s dirty and he’s been known for it. He goes after a rookie who plays in three games and goes right at his head.

“He’s an idiot, that guy.”

Gudas certainly has furthered his reputation as a dangerous hitter this season.

In December, he was suspended three games for a headshot on Mika Zibanejad and, earlier this month, was tossed from a game against Montreal for clipping, after delivering a low hit on Habs forward Lucas Lessio.

Report: The chances of Carey Price returning this season are ‘slim’

Montreal Canadiens' goaltender Carey Price looks on during a scrimmage game alongside goaltending coach Stephane Waite during NHL hockey training camp in Brossard, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Associated Press
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Details surrounding Carey Price‘s injury have been scarce, but according to La Presse newspaper, the chances of him returning to the lineup this season are “slim” at best.

The 28-year-old has been out with a lower-body injury since Nov. 25.

His return date has been pushed back several times, and La Presse suggests that’ll happen again.

Originally, the Canadiens said Price would be out six weeks. Then, on January 21, General Manager Marc Bergevin said he expected his goalie to be out another three to four weeks, which means that he would be coming back sometime next week.

Price has been skating for a while, but he’s been doing so without his goalie equipment.

Basically, don’t hold your breath.

Here’s an excerpt from the story (quotes have been translated):

The possibility of Carey Price returning this season are so slim that people in the organization don’t even believe it’ll happen.

According to information obtained by La Presse, the Canadiens aren’t optimistic about their star goaltender’s chances of returning this season. He’s been out since November and the club refuses to confirm the fact that he suffered a right knee injury. 

The report goes on to say that Price is dealing with a Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) injury. The only good news is that he won’t have to undergo surgery.

“People in the Canadiens organization don’t believe he’ll  be back during the regular season,” a source told La Presse’s Richard Labbé. “They’re wondering if it’s even worth pushing him to come back, but they don’t want to admit anything publicly.

“They don’t want the fans to give up hope this season. There’s a marketing aspect to all of this.”

The story also mentions that Price is telling people that he’ll be healthy enough to represent Canada at the World Cup of Hockey next September.

PHT Morning Skate: Snoop Dogg wears OHL team’s jersey during a show

Snoop Dogg, aka Snoop Lion, arrives at Spike TV's Guys Choice Awards at Sony Pictures Studios on Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Culver City, Calif. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)
Associated Press
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

–Snoop Dog wore a Mitch Marner London Knights jersey at his concert in London. (Bardown)

Brent Burns‘ son got a gift from Jaromir Jagr:

–Here’s Pierre LeBrun’s latest edition of Team Canada’s World Cup roster. (ESPN)

–The NHL completely ruined the Toronto Maple Leafs’ centennial season. (Puck Daddy)

–The Chicago Blackhawks will be going to the White House on Feb. 18. (Blackhawks.nhl.com)

–Wings goalie Petr Mrazek talks to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman about “doing the right things” and “working hard”. (Sportsnet)