The first round of the 2013 NHL Playoffs showcased a Nashville club that featured stingy defense, top-notch goal-tending and just enough offense to get by a very good Detroit team. So far in the second round, all three of those factors haven’t existed.
Give all of the credit in the world to the Phoenix Coyotes. I truly feel that Nashville fell asleep on the Coyotes early on and am paying for it heading into Game 3 in Nashville on Wednesday.
Have you ever heard the saying when it rains it pours? Well, if you’re a Nashville Predators fan you better grab your umbrella!
After coming off what is probably their poorest defensive showing all season in Sunday night’s 5-3 loss to Phoenix, the Preds were handed some more bleak news. Forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn were suspended for Game 3 for what has been said to be a curfew violation. Very few details have been given out by the Predators organization but it seems that the two were spotted in Scottsdale (45 minutes away from Glendale, where the team and arena were located) Saturday night after midnight.
After two periods of play in Game 6, it seemed almost inevitable that the Chicago Blackhawks would finally find a chink in the armor of Phoenix Coyotes netminder Mike Smith.
But then again, nothing in the NHL playoffs is inevitable.
Despite the Hawks peppering Smith with 28 shots on Monday night through the first 40 minutes at United Center, the ‘Yotes puck-stopper built a fort around his cage. And even though Chicago would end up outshooting Phoenix by nearly a two-to-one margin (39-20), they were unable to put anything up on the scoreboard where it matters most. Thanks to Smith’s brilliant play, the Coyotes were able to prevent another late third-period push from the Blackhawks and skated off the ice with a convincing 4-0 series-clinching victory.
Apparently, NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan had heard enough criticism hurled his way from fans and media pundits for the alleged violence that has run ramped the the first round of the 2012 NHL playoffs.
Shanahan came down hard on Raffi Torres, suspending the Phoenix Coyotes forward for 25 games for his hit to the head of Marian Hossa during Game 3 of the Blackhawks-Coyotes Western Conference quarterfinal playoff series in Chicago.
It is the longest NHL suspension since New York Islanders forward Chris Simon was suspended 30 games for stomping on the leg of Jarko Ruutu in December, 2007.
If you tuned into the final minutes of Thursday night’s Game 5 between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Chicago Blackhawks, there’s a good chance you knew what was going to happen if you had been paying attention to this series.
For the fourth game in a row, the Hawks and Coyotes were forced to play overtime to decide the outcome. However, before they got to that point, it was once again the Coyotes who blew a lead late in the third period.
The list of casualties in the 2012 NHL playoffs continues to grow.
Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa has been ruled out for Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series against Phoenix after Coyotes forward Raffi Torres delivered a vicious hit on Hossa in Game 3.
Torres has been suspended indefinitely by the League and faces an in-person hearing Friday with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
The Blackhawks released the following statement after the game from head team physician Dr. Michael Terry:
Not many people are talking about it, but with his 54-save, 2-0 win Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night, Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith set an NHL record for saves in a regular-season shutout.
Even less people are talking about the guy who helped mold Smith into the goaltender he is today.
His name may not come up in headlines or round-table discussions, but Coyotes goaltending coach Sean Burke deserves a ton of praise for the work he has done with Smith. Burke, an 18-year NHL veteran between the pipes, took over for Grant Fuhr at the end of the 2008-09 season. It’s no coincidence that the first season he took over as goaltending coach marked the first season that Phoenix made the playoffs since 2001-02.
It’s hard to believe that with just a little over two weeks left in the season, mathematically, there are still 14 of 15 teams in the West that can qualify for the playoffs (sorry, Columbus). With that being said, Edmonton doesn’t really have a prayer, neither does Minnesota. Anaheim, currently nine points out of the eighth and final playoff spot, is a long shot, but they would need a miracle contingent on several various factors going their way in order to still be playing hockey in April.
Essentially, that leaves five teams—all currently separated by three points—battling for two playoff spots. And at this point, nobody is willing to give an inch.
Mike Smith’s road to the NHL has been a long and arduous one, full of bumps and potholes along the way. And detours, too.
It was actually around this time last year that Smith was living in Virginia, playing with the American Hockey League’s Norfolk Admirals. After a disappointing start to the 2010-11 season between the pipes for the Tampa Bay Lighting, Smith unexpectedly found himself at No. 3 on the depth chart behind Dwayne Roloson and Dan Ellis.
Luckily for Smith, when free agency rolled around in the offseason, the Phoenix Coyotes came knocking.
Jeremy Roenick, one of the most colorful and charismatic players in NHL history, entered the Coyotes‘ Ring of Honor on Saturday.
The Coyotes put together a great montage of classic JR moments and testimonials from former teammates expressing their appreciation for one of the greatest US-born players in NHL history. Roenick was also given several gifts, including the special mask attachment he wore to protect his broken jaw in Game 7 of the postseason series against the St. Louis Blues.
Roenick also excited the standing-room only crowd at Jobing.com arena by commenting on the future of the franchise.