Game in a Sentence:
In what is quickly turning into the “paint by numbers” series, the Phoenix Coyotes jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Chicago Blackhawks tied it with time expiring which put us into overtime. Of course, once we were there, it was Mikkel Boedker who ended the game for the second time in a row.
- I feel as though this series is really making me repeat myself, but I blame the players on the ice for repeating themselves over and over again. Another game that was slow to start with spurts of offence down the stretch and plenty of tight checking. Sound familiar? You’re damn right it does.
- This game got off to a fun start as everyone’s favorite player with a moustache and twitter account, Paul Bissonnette, was ejected early in the first period for fighting Brandon Bollig. No, he wasn’t ejected because he fought, rather, he was ejected for fighting without his jersey being tied down. It was a whopping 0:13 of ice time tonight for BizNasty, which, even by his self proclaimed 4th liner status is impressive. Ironically enough he was penalized more for being himself than Raffi Torres was for putting Marian Hossa on a stretcher. The rules are rigid and unflinching.
- Like the other games tonight there wasn’t a ton doing in the penalty department. Obviously these guys were treading on eggshells to an extent after the Torres on Hossa hit, but for the teams to combine for five power play opportunities and have all the penalties called be for simple “not skating” reasons, it was a nice change after the debacle of a game ago.
- How heavily do the Blackhawks rely on Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith? Both D-men played a half hour in tonight’s game and 4/5 of that was at even strength. I will say, for all the Chicago forward core got hyped when they won the Cup, the win was equally attributable to the back end guys. A big difference between that team and this team is the depth is nowhere comparable now to what it was. Nick Leddy and Johnny Oduya can’t do what Brent Sopel and Brian Campbell did and the Coyotes are proving to be a tough enough out as it is before defensive concerns factor in.
- Johnny Oduya should feel the shame for this giveaway. Get the puck up ice above all else. It’s the playoffs, man.
- How about late lineup addition Brendan Morrison scoring a goal? The guy just refuses to quit.
- On that note, the Coyotes have done great work down low against the Chicago defensive group. They may not be getting a ton of chances on goal but they are wearing down the Chicago back end every chance they get and that adds up over the course of a game and series. It’s not often a road team gets credited with more hits than the host but Phoenix did just that, edging the Blackhawks 50-32.
- As I mentioned, the Blackhawks generated much more offensively and kept Mike Smith busy as per usual. But, like we’re seeing in Washington with the Capitals, their defensive system has been great at taking away additional chances from their opponent. The Coyotes had a massive edge in blocked shots, 21-6, and continue to hold a potent offense hostage. Obviously that big a disparity in blocked shots also indicates that Phoenix was shooting less but their ability to block passing and shooting lanes is among the best in hockey.
- It obviously goes without saying that this game could have been different had Marian Hossa been in the lineup but Chicago has to get more out of its other finishers. Patrick Sharp and Viktor Stalberg have been totally snakebitten all series and need to snap out of it.
- Meanwhile, Mikkel Boedker has become Mr. Clutch for the Phoenix Coyotes as he scored his second overtime winner in the series after factoring in the first by Martin Hanzal. Neither have been pretty but they count the same.
- What else is there to say about Smith at this point? The guy is an excellent goaltender. He has been huge every time the Coyotes need him and a lot of the goals he has given up have come at a time when his team has gone to such a defensive shell that it’s more of a hindrance than a benefit. I don’t suspect he’ll show cracks in the armor any time soon.
- Corey Crawford may not be in goal for game five. I thought through the first three games he looked really good but he has softened up during crunch time in the last two contests. Boedker’s two game winners are unacceptable goals to give up at any level of hockey. Don’t be shocked if Ray Emery is the man in net come game five.
My Three Stars:
1) Mikkel Boedker
2) Mike Smith
3) Shane Doan