Game in a Sentence:
It was a big win for the Phoenix Coyotes to take one at the United Center, but the talk was off the ice as Raffi Torres will likely be suspended after a big hit on Marian Hossa which sent the ‘Hawks sniper to hospital.
- The Coyotes came into this game short handed as it is without Martin Hanzal or Lauri Korpikoski and played the perfect road game in many ways. Stayed within themselves, focused on defence and didn’t get too high or low based on the emotion of the game. There were obviously plenty of moments that could have swung it one way or the other, but they kept themselves in check and executed the game plan that got them to this point.
- I thought the Blackhawks played well for the most part. I liked their speed and passing and thought that they had many opportunities to break down the Coyotes. Obviously playing a team this strong defensively poses a challenge for any team, particularly one with so many streaky scorers as the Blackhawks, and I think that they played a very good game on the whole considering the circumstances that unfolded.
- I like that Chicago split up Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews for matchup purposes and the fact Kane created a goal certainly lends itself to this trend sticking. However, and I will harp on this until I get what I want or die, I want to see Patrick Kane do more. Watching a re-run of the Hawks/Flyers series from two years ago confirmed everything I thought I remembered. Kane was a wizard with the puck and carried himself on the ice with much more conviction than he has for much of this season and into the playoffs. Be a first overall pick. Be a game breaker. Be the guy you were 20 months ago.
- Ray Whitney didn’t look a day over 25 tonight. He led all skaters in shots on goal with nine, had great speed and was Phoenix’s most dangerous player every time he was on the ice. Not to belabour a cliché here but if Ray Whitney is defying Father Time, the Blackhawks have cause for concern. He really made up for a lot of what Hanzal and Korpikoski typically bring to the table.
- Jonathan Toews was great as usual. The guy hasn’t missed a beat. I also have no clue as to how he is given the only penalty from that scrum at the end of the second period, but c’est la vie.
- Just going to throw it out there that Phoenix probably won the Rusty Klesla deal. A goal and two assists tonight in addition to being a very solid citizen in his own end. He doesn’t do it with a lot of flash, but he does it nonetheless. In many ways he is your prototypical 2012 Phoenix Coyote.
- Anybody else get the feeling that Patrick Sharp is due for a huge game? The guy had six shots on net, including a couple which were robbed from him by Mike Smith, and looked good every time he touched the puck. He’s my “X Factor” for the Blackhawks going forward. Honorable mention to Viktor Stalberg.
- I looked at “the hit” here. Long story short I hope Hossa is O.K. and that Raffi Torres is suspended for a while. I explain all the reasons why in the original post.
I really don’t understand how both referees miss this hit given that the puck was in the proximity of the play – at the very least they should have seen what happened in their periphery – and the fact that Torres went without a single penalty blows my mind.
The additional fact it was exactly one year after his hit on Seabrook is just bizarre.
- Rightly or wrongly, I suspect Joel Quenneville will be fined soon.
- Mike Smith continues to be one of the hottest goaltenders in all of hockey right now. Another 35 save performance tonight and another overtime victory. Make no mistake about it, Phoenix wouldn’t even be in the discussion right now if it weren’t for Smith. Kudos to Dave Tippett who just finds a way to get everything he can out of the big goaltender.
- Corey Crawford may have found the straw that broke the camel’s back (camel’s back being his playoff run) with a soft game winning goal credited to Mikkel Boedker. I’ll take part of the blame for singing his praises to this point and no doubt jinxing him. I’m interested to see how he bounces back.
- That three goal flurry was pretty much everything awesome about the playoffs rolled into, well, three minutes. Excellent speed, execution, excitement. That’s why we love this game.
- This game has to go to seven at this point, right? Doesn’t it just feel that way?
My Three Stars:
1) Rusty Klesla
2) Mike Smith
3) Ray Whitney