The result of last night’s Coyotes/Blackhawks game and the ultimate result of that series would have been newsworthy enough. The Coyotes are off to the second round for the first time since moving to Phoenix (and maybe the last time while in Phoenix) and won the franchise’s first playoff series since the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Calgary Flames in the 1987 Smythe Division semifinals.
Add to that the fact that the Blackhawks lost three home games in a series for the first time in franchise history, and you can see how this series is somewhat historical.
But it’s what the Coyotes’ first round victory does to the Western Conference landscape that really sticks out to me. Phoenix joins the Blues, Predators and Kings as the final four teams left in the West. Looking at the franchise history of each team gives us an indication of how significant this is.
The Blues haven’t been to the Western Conference final in 11 years and haven’t been to the Stanley Cup final since capping their third straight trip in 1970. The Coyotes/Jets franchise has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs since moving from the WHA to the NHL for the 1979-80 season. The Predators have only won two playoff series in franchise history, and have also never made it past the second round, meaning the upcoming Phoenix/Nashville matchup will see one of those franchises advance to the NHL’s final four for the first time. The Kings, meanwhile, are the franchise that has enjoyed the most recent playoff success, but it’s still been 19 years since Wayne Gretzky pulled them to the Stanley Cup final in 1993.
However you look at it, the Western Conference is officially wide open, and at least one non-traditional, starving for success hockey market is going to get its playoff fill. This has to be good for the NHL, right?
Here are your morning links:
- Chris Neil is sure he’ll catch Michael Del Zotto with his head down “one of these times” (Puck Daddy). If you missed it, this is why Neil is looking for revenge.
- Henrik Lundqvist is upset over the Senators’ controversial late goal in Game 6 (ABC11.com). As I mentioned in my Game 6 recap, I agree with King Henrik that the goal should have been disallowed.
- Game 6 of Sens/Rangers was defined by over-officiating (Sports Illustrated). I doubt Chris Neil and Henrik Lundqvist agree with the notion that the game was over-officiated.
- Forget being fired, do Alain Vigneault and Mike Gillis even want to stay with the Canucks? (Vancouver Sun). Gillis is scheduled for a press conference this morning, but Vigneault isn’t expected to be there.
- Four potential landing spots for Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Sun). Of course the Leafs are on this list.
- Jaroslav Halak will miss the first two games of the Blues’ series against the Kings (theScore.com). When Brian Elliot (and his .940 save percentage) is your “backup,” I don’t think there’s much need to worry. Take as much time as you need, Jaroslav.
- Season flaws caught up to the Blackhawks against the Coyotes (ESPN).
- Chicago’s big name players came up with “big nothing,” left Blackhawks with big questions (Chicago Tribune).
- One loss from their summer, defeat isn’t an option for the Devils tonight (New York Post).
- Even if the Devils lose their series against the Panthers, Martin Brodeur knows it won’t be as tough as two other losses in his career (The Star-Ledger). Think ’94 and 2001.