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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:17 am 
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - In the moments after clinching their first division title in 33 years as an NHL franchise, the Phoenix Coyotes shared a couple of hugs and pats on the helmet, then skated toward the tunnel leading to the locker room.
As celebrations go, it wasn't much more emotion than they would have shown for any other game.
That's because the division title isn't what they're after.
Sure, it's nice, a historic moment for a franchise that began in Winnipeg. For the players, the best part of the division title is that it earns them home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
Against the Chicago Blackhawks and all those snipers, the Coyotes will need any edge they can get.
''Winning the division, it means home ice - it's something you want to hang your hat on,'' Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said Wednesday from Jobing.com Arena, where the best-of-seven series will start Thursday night. ''It's an accomplishment for our group and we'll certainly take that, but ... it's something we need to take advantage of.''
Phoenix played well down the stretch of the regular season, winning its last five games behind the superb goaltending of Mike Smith. With a 4-1 win over Minnesota on Saturday night, the Coyotes wrapped up the Pacific Division, the first in the franchise's NHL history.
The division crown earned the Coyotes atta boys from all over because it meant they would get to open the playoffs at home instead of facing teams like Detroit, which knocked them out of the first round the previous two seasons, St. Louis or Vancouver.
Thing is, the Blackhawks don't figure to be a much easier opponent.
Chicago finished ahead of Phoenix in the standings, earning two more wins (45) and four more points (101). The Blackhawks have one of the most potent top lines in the league with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, and their second line can match the No. 1 for many teams.
Chicago also has an experience advantage; the Coyotes haven't won a playoff series since moving to Phoenix in 1996, while the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and pushed Vancouver to a seventh game in the first round last year.
''They're a good team, they've had a good year, and we feel we've had a good year, too,'' Kane said. ''We are confident in the team we have, so we'll see what happens. It's going to be a fun series. It'll be pretty intense, playoff hockey.''
The Blackhawks played well in the final stretch of the regular season, finishing 8-1-3 despite playing without Toews.
Chicago's captain missed the final 22 games with a concussion, but started practicing this week in preparation for the playoffs and was symptom-free after Wednesday's workout. He's expected to play Thursday night in the desert, though an official decision isn't expected to be made until after the team's morning skate.
If Toews does return, he'll center the first line and Kane, who had been in the middle with the captain out, will slide back to the left side. The line combined for 81 goals and 119 assists, even with Toews missing the big chunk of time at the end of the season.
''I'm right there,'' Toews said. ''It's been another day where I'm getting better and better, getting back to where I want to be as far as if I'm going to play a game. We'll see how it goes tomorrow.''
He may want to look over his shoulder against the Coyotes.
While the Blackhawks play a free-and-easy style under coach Joel Quenneville, Phoenix's forte is to grind games out any way they can to keep it close.
Against a team as fast and filled with skill players as Chicago, that means the Coyotes will have to muck it up, knock the Blackhawks down every chance they get.
It worked during the regular-season matchups between the teams - the Coyotes won three of four - and they'll likely pick up the intensity in the playoffs, particularly with Toews coming back from injury.
''It has to come down to us working hard and do all the little things, get in their way, slow them down, bump them when we can,'' Coyotes captain Shane Doan said.
The subplot within these two contrasting playing styles centers on the men orchestrating them.
Tippett and Quenneville were teammates for seven seasons with the Hartford Whalers in the 1980s and spent another year together in Washington. Even as players, they took a cerebral approach to the game, often developing plays and strategies for their teams during practices.
Quenneville got his first head coaching job with St. Louis in 1996 and had a three-year stint behind Colorado's bench before becoming Chicago's coach in 2008. He won the Stanley Cup in his second season with the Blackhawks and is seventh in NHL history with 624 wins.
Tippett ended his career as a player-coach with the Houston Aeros of the IHL and became head coach of the Dallas Stars in 2002. Tippett led the Stars to the playoffs five of six seasons and their coach and led the Coyotes to their first playoff appearance in eight years despite being hired nine days before the 2009-10. He has taken Phoenix to the playoffs in each of his three seasons in the desert, despite the restraints that come with the team being run by the NHL.
Though they went their separate ways - physically and philosophically - Quenneville and Tippett stayed in touch over the years and remain friends, at least until this point.
''We've been good friends a long time and when we've gotten together, there's always been a lot of talk about the structure of the game,'' Tippett said. ''Over the years, it's been a good relationship and I've admired what he's done and what he's continued to do. Our friendship will be put on hold for a few days and we'll pick it up again after the series.''
Two hot teams, contrasting styles, coaches who are good tacticians and also friends - it should be a good one.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:26 pm 
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This pains me, but the hawks got jobbed.com there

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:43 pm 
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2nd game in a row the Hawks tie it up with only seconds left in the game.

Wow.

Here comes overtime.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:46 pm 
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Shaw got 3 games

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=628346

CANNOT believe this. For once I actually am on board with Hawks fans. Smith embellished the (Frank) out of that supposed "hit" then got up, brushed himself off and not only finished the game but is starting tonight. Video looks kinda bad at full speed but you watch it in slow mo and I'm not even entirely positive Shaw's shoulder even hit Smith... :lol:

And Shea Weber loses his allowance money for doing his best to smash Zetterberg's head into the boards when the game is over. Shanahan has lost his (Franking) mind, there is zero predictability with this bullshit and it's whatever he feels like doing on a day to day basis.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:50 pm 
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WaukeeBlues wrote:
Shaw got 3 games

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=628346

CANNOT believe this. For once I actually am on board with Hawks fans. Smith embellished the (Frank) out of that supposed "hit" then got up, brushed himself off and not only finished the game but is starting tonight. Video looks kinda bad at full speed but you watch it in slow mo and I'm not even entirely positive Shaw's shoulder even hit Smith... :lol:

And Shea Weber loses his allowance money for doing his best to smash Zetterberg's head into the boards when the game is over. Shanahan has lost his (Frank) mind, there is zero predictability with this bullshit and it's whatever he feels like doing on a day to day basis.


Yeah, it's a joke. It's almost like he suspends people based on the "state of the game" not on the action. By that I mean, he let Weber's incident go when there wasn't chaos. Looking the other way caused chaos to ensue. So, now he's over-penalizing players to try to restore order.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:56 pm 
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Just got an ESPN alert that Hossa got franked up pretty good. Anyone see the hit? Oh yeah, :hawkssuck:

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:59 pm 
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AlsWoodenStick wrote:
Just got an ESPN alert that Hossa got franked up pretty good. Anyone see the hit? Oh yeah, :hawkssuck:


Ya Polak drove his ass into the boards and he got carted out on a stretcher...oh wait that was years ago.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:03 pm 
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Here's a link to the hit for now... Ouch.

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=628433

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:05 pm 
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http://www.sbnation.com/nhl/2012/4/17/2 ... ks-coyotes

That also has a link to a video. He got smoked...wow.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:22 pm 
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He left his feet before contact. I have no idea how that wasn't a major penalty.

If he had stayed flat on his feet and low like he was lined up, it was a completely legal hit.

Franking sweet shot tho, lol. Glad it wasn't one of our guys.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:41 pm 
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not_a_wings_fan wrote:
He left his feet before contact. I have no idea how that wasn't a major penalty.

If he had stayed flat on his feet and low like he was lined up, it was a completely legal hit.

Franking sweet shot tho, lol. Glad it wasn't one of our guys.


No, he hit him at least a second after the puck was gone, so it should definitely have been interference. There was nothing legal about it, even without him leaving his feet.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:56 pm 
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And in leaving his feet (or at least elevating the point of contact), his shoulder appears to directly demolish Hossa's head. Shaw got 3 after being dismissed from the game. What will Shanahan decide?

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:11 pm 
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Wow. Terrible, terrible goal. That could be the end of Chicago right there. How in the world do you give that up?

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 6:53 am 
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This almost sucks....

If Vancouver, Detroit and Chicago are all eliminated in the first round it sounds like a dream scenario for the Note...however....

With the stars perfectly aligned, will it be to much pressure? One could argue that you will never have an easier path to the finals.

I know - I know...don't get ahead of yourself...we haven't even won our series yet....but I'm a Blues fan, It's only natural to wonder how they will disappoint me this year.

That said, SUCK IT CHICAGO!

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:16 am 
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DaDitka wrote:
This almost sucks....

If Vancouver, Detroit and Chicago are all eliminated in the first round it sounds like a dream scenario for the Note...however....

With the stars perfectly aligned, will it be to much pressure? One could argue that you will never have an easier path to the finals.

I know - I know...don't get ahead of yourself...we haven't even won our series yet....but I'm a Blues fan, It's only natural to wonder how they will disappoint me this year.

That said, SUCK IT CHICAGO!


I'd say it would be more difficult if VAN, CHI, and DET are eliminated. We would have to face Quick, Rinne, or Smith, who have all been playing out of their minds. Granted, our goalies have been fantastic too, but the rest of our team has a tendency to make these other guys look like gods in net when we face them. And personally, I would also like the opportunity to eliminate a Division rival.

But yes, :hawkssuck:

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:32 am 
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I hope they get eliminated as quickly as possible just because I hate them so much. Assuming we win our series I tell you right now that Quick scares the hell out of me. I think more so than Pecker. I guess we will just have to see how things shake out over the next week.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:54 am 
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gaijin wrote:
We would have to face Quick, Rinne, or Smith, who have all been playing out of their minds.



Which is why I said we easily had the best draw of the playoffs.

That said, it's hard for me to get too concerned with the opponents goal tending when we have the two best net minders in the league. That's a bigger deal then you think. In the locker room I don't see our guys worrying about facing Quick when they have Elliot behind them.

I'm not discrediting those goaltenders at all, just discussing the mental approach.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 10:34 am 
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Torres is suspended for 25 games for that hit on Hossa. 25 games...! Holy crap! :shock:

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 10:53 am 
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It might be slightly on the excessive side, but I like it. It comes across a little bit as a makeup for not suspending Weber et al, but something significant had to come IMO.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 10:56 am 
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cardsfan04 wrote:
It might be slightly on the excessive side, but I like it. It comes across a little bit as a makeup for not suspending Weber et al, but something significant had to come IMO.


Total makeup call. I understand 25 games for a repeat offender, but comparing to the other hits?? NHL caved to the media.

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