Goaltending rules the day out West

April, 24, 2012
4/24/12
1:00
AM CT
LeBrun By Pierre LeBrun
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The changing of the guard in the West is now complete.

The Phoenix Coyotes joined St. Louis, Nashville and Los Angeles in the second round of the playoffs; a fresh-faced group signaling not only a new era in the Western Conference but also a change in style of play.

All four teams, to varying degrees, play defense-first systems and win low-scoring games when they're having success.

"I really do think it has a lot to do with team play," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said after Monday's 4-0, series-clinching win. "You look at the way Nashville plays, St. Louis plays, I think that's how you have to win in today's hockey. Probably the best example is the Boston Bruins last year. They were a hard, committed team that just grinded through series and ended up being the Stanley Cup champion."

All four of these defense-first teams are backed by some serious goaltending in Mike Smith, Jonathan Quick, Pekka Rinne and the Jaroslav Halak/Brian Elliott duo.

Much like the Sharks, Blues and Red Wings in these playoffs, the Blackhawks were stymied against the Coyotes, scoring only 12 goals in six games.

Read the entire column.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Sharp
PTS GOALS AST +/-
78 34 44 13
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Sharp 34
AssistsD. Keith 55
+/-M. Hossa 28
GAAC. Crawford 2.26