Hawks vs Coyotes

Series at a glance: Phoenix-Chicago playoff preview

6 Comments

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)

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

2 Comments

The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

3 Comments

It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

19 Comments

You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

84 Comments

Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.