Blackhawks: Phoenix Coyotes
The Detroit Red Wings is the team of note on Wednesday. The Red Wings can move into the eighth spot by picking up at least a point against the Los Angeles Kings.
Here's a closer look at all four potential first-round opponents with their records, ROW (regulation + overtime wins, which is used as a tiebreaker), remaining games and best-and-worst-case scenarios.
- Minnesota Wild, 25-18-3, 53 points (seventh place): 21 ROW, two games remaining (vs. Edmonton Friday, at Colorado on Saturday), best case (57 points, fifth place), worst case (53 points, out of the playoffs)
- Columbus Blue Jackets, 22-17-7, 51 points (eighth place): 17 ROW, two games remaining (at Dallas on Thursday, vs. Nashville on Saturday), best case (55 points, seventh place), worst case (51 points, out of the playoffs)
- Detroit Red Wings, 21-16-8, 50 points: 19 ROW, three games remaining (vs. Los Angeles on Wednesday, vs. Nashville on Thursday, at Dallas on Saturday), best case (56 points, seventh place), worst case (50 points, out of the playoffs)
- Dallas Stars, 22-20-4, 48 points: 20 ROW, two games remaining (vs. Columbus on Thursday, vs. Detroit on Saturday), best case (52 points, eighth place), worst case (48 points, out of the playoffs)
The Blackhawks could still play one of seven teams in the first round. With one week remaining in the regular season, the San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes are all potential opening-round opponents for the Blackhawks.
Here's a closer look at all seven potential first-round opponents with their records, ROW (regulation + overtime wins, which is used as a tiebreaker), remaining games and best-and-worst-case scenarios.
San Jose, 24-14-17, 55 points (currently fifth place): 16 ROW, 3 games remaining (vs. Dallas on Tuesday, at Phoenix on Wednesday, at Los Angeles on Saturday), best case (61 points, fourth place), worst case (55 points, out of the playoffs)
St. Louis, 26-17-2, 54 points (currently sixth place): 21 ROW, 3 games remaining (vs. Colorado on Tuesday, vs. Calgary on Thursday, vs. Blackhawks on Saturday), best case (60 points, fourth place), worst case (54 points, out of the playoffs)
Minnesota, 24-18-3, 51 points (currently seventh place): 20 ROW, three games remaining (vs. Los Angeles on Tuesday, vs. Edmonton Friday, at Colorado on Saturday), best case (57 points, win the Northwest Division, third place), worst case (51 points, out of the playoffs)
Columbus, 22-7-7, 51 points (currently eighth place): 17 ROW, two games remaining (at Dallas on Thursday, vs. Nashville on Saturday), best case (55 points, fifth place), worst case (51 points, out of the playoffs)
Detroit, 20-16-8, 48 points: 18 ROW, four games remaining (vs. Phoenix on Monday, vs. Los Angeles on Wednesday, vs. Nashville on Thursday, at Dallas on Saturday), best case (56 points, fifth place), worst case (48 points, out of the playoffs)
Dallas, 22-19-4, 48 points: 20 ROW, three games remaining (at San Jose on Tuesday, vs. Columbus on Thursday, vs. Detroit on Saturday), best case (54 points, sixth place), worst case (48 points, out of the playoffs)
Phoenix, 19-17-8, 46 points: 15 ROW, four games remaining (at Detroit on Monday, vs. San Jose on Wednesday, vs. Colorado on Friday, at Anaheim on Saturday), best case (54 points, seventh place), worst case (46 points, out of the playoffs)
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks set a new NHL record for the longest points streak to start a season as they extended their streak to 17 games with a 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Friday.
Here’s a breakdown of how they reached the mark:
No. 1: 5-2 win vs. Los Angeles Kings, Jan. 19: The Blackhawks set the tone for the season in the opener and ruined the Kings’ Stanley Cup banner-raising ceremony by jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. Marian Hossa scored two goals and dished out an assist in his first game back since suffering a head injury in the previous season’s playoffs.
No. 2: 6-4 win vs. the Phoenix Coyotes, Jan. 20: This is the only game this season in which the Blackhawks allowed more than three goals. The Blackhawks offense made up for the team’s defensive and goaltending struggles. The Blackhawks scored three times in the second period, and twice more in the third period for the victory. Hossa and Dave Bolland each scored twice.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said it wasn’t discussed in the locker room, but when teammate Jamal Mayers dropped the gloves with Phoenix Coyotes winger Raffi Torres early in the Hawks' 6-2 win on Thursday, everyone in the building knew what was happening.
“I’m trying to create momentum, and, obviously, we have pretty good memory of what happened,” Mayers said afterward. “I realize what my job is at this point.”
Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY SportsJamal Mayers, right, took revenge on Phoenix's Raffi Torres for a hard hit on Marian Hossa last postseason.
“It is what it is,” he said. “If I’m going to go out there and play that way, then you have to be held accountable.”
Coincidence or not -- Mayers wouldn’t take any credit -- the Hawks took off after the bout, scoring four times in the opening period. But only after the retaliation was doled out. Just 2:35 into the contest, as Torres came by the Hawks' bench, Mayers jumped over for a line change, and, immediately, Torres was ready.
When asked how it went down, Mayers responded: “It was pretty much known,” as in everyone knew why it was happening.
The two exchanged a handful of punches at a rapid rate before heading to the box.
“Give him credit he was willing to go,” Mayers said. “It still doesn’t excuse what happened.”
But it was the most the Hawks were willing to do. They don’t buy into the idea that one cheap shot deserves another -- at least not when they’re off to a 9-0-2 start. Handle it “between the whistles” is how Mayers put it.
“It takes guts to do something like that,” Sharp said. “There was really no discussion of it in our locker room, we just wanted to focus on playing hard and not get sidetracked by that stuff. Credit to Jamal for doing it. That’s the toughest job in the game. It definitely fired us up and got us going.”
After two power-play goals and two even-strength goals, the fight looked even better in hindsight.
“Jammer knows his role,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “He’s a great pro. Commend him.”
So the Torres/Hossa ordeal should be over. Hossa is healthy and Torres has served his punishment, both on and off the ice. Mayers was asked if that was the case.
“We’ll see,” he said with a smile.
GLENDALE, Ariz. --Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks’ 6-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night:
How it happened: After Jamal Mayers got the obligatory fight with Raffi Torres out of the way, the Blackhawks went to work on the scoreboard, netting four goals in the opening 20 minutes, and never looked back. They scored twice with two-man advantages, as the Coyotes took five minor penalties in that opening period. The Hawks were deadly with their finishing touch, as Patrick Kane (twice), Dave Bolland and Viktor Stalberg hammered home goals in the first. Patrick Sharp had assist on three straight tallies. They kept it going in the middle period, with tallies from Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell. Toews’ goal was a thing of beauty, as he juked defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, then beat Mike Smith -- who was pulled after giving up six. The rout was on.
The fight: The game was only 2:35 old when Mayers and Torres exchanged punches -- in the least surprising aspect of the night. Torres skated near the Hawks bench, and when Mayers jumped over for a line change it was on. It was a fierce but rather quick battle, with both sides landing several punches. Decision: a draw. Torres did score a goal late in the third period.
What it means: The Hawks got their retribution on Torres for his hit on Marian Hossa in last season’s playoffs and, in the process, reminded Phoenix this isn’t the 2012 postseason. The Hawks put up 12 goals in two games in Glendale this season, improving on their incredible start to the season as they moved to 9-0-2. It was a dominating offensive performance, with the Hawks outworking the Coyotes, then finishing on their chances.
Stat of the night: The Hawks have scored 12 goals on Coyotes goalie Smith this season, in less than five periods of hockey. It’s the same amount they totaled in six games last postseason, including five tilts that went into overtime.
What’s next: The Hawks complete their road trip in Nashville on Sunday, looking for at least a point in every one of the six they’ve played away from home and, subsequently, at least one point in every game staged this season.
The Coyotes defeated the Blackhawks seven times last season, winning three out of four meetings in the regular season and then eliminating the Blackhawks from the playoffs in the first round in six games. Five of the playoff games were decided in overtime.
The two teams meet for the first time this season in Phoenix at 9 p.m. CST on Sunday. The Blackhawks are coming off a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday afternoon, and the Coyotes lost 4-3 to the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.
CHICAGO -- If there was one topic that came up over and over again as the Blackhawks met the media and cleaned out their lockers on Wednesday it was the subpar play of their special teams.
It prevented them from earning more points in the regular season and helped derail their playoff series with the Phoenix Coyotes. The power-play unit scored once in 19 tries in the postseason after finishing ranked 26th during the regular season. The penalty kill gave up four goals to the worst power-play team entering the playoffs on the same 19 chances. It was ranked 27th in the regular season.
“I’m going to absorb the responsibility for its ineffectiveness for the most part,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Going forward as a staff we have to absorb some responsibility but the players have to as well. …Sharing that going forward has to be important.”
Of course it’s ultimately going to be on the players, but you can’t fire 23 players. You can change assistants though. Special teams and goaltending are usually handled by the lieutenants. Quenneville was asked if there would be any changes to his staff, especially due to the porous nature of their special teams play.
“All year long both coaches [Mike Haviland and Mike Kitchen] had a chance to be on both units, stints on the power play and penalty kill,” Quenneville responded. “At the end of the day we’re all sharing and talking in personnel options as far as execution as well. The power play was a sore point this year. Our penalty kill wasn’t much better when you look at the standings at the end of the year. Special teams can be a differential in games, it was in the last series. We have to be better.”
No one is questioning that but Quenneville never answered the question if changes to his coaching staff were imminent. Bowman left it up to him.
Some of Bowman’s harshest comments of the day were directed at the special teams.
“The results speak for themselves,” Bowman said. “They were a huge disappointment this year. It’s unacceptable to have the caliber of players we have and not have it work. Ultimately we have to improve that.”
And Quenneville was just as straightforward about his thinking for next year.
“Going forward it will be a point of emphasis,” Quenneville said. “Don’t expect to be on the power play, earn your right to be on the power play.”
The same should go for the Hawks’ penalty killing. Quenneville admitted his stars might not be the right ones to be killing penalties.
“Maybe the guys we do use on special teams ... you might say we work them up too much or they get too much ice time,” he said. “Committed to blocking shots or denying lanes makes you more effective as team…You can get guys to do whatever it takes to kill a penalty however we want to kill it and if guys aren’t willing to commit to doing what we want to do I think going forward someone else will get a chance. Whether it’s blocking a shot or denying a shot or laying down in front of a shot, that’s what it’s all about.”
The only question is why did it take 88 games for Quenneville and even Bowman to talk this tough about the special teams? Maybe they were doing it privately but players don’t really feel the heat until a coach is calling them out publicly. Hawks’ fans can only hope next year will be different because when it comes to the Hawks’ power play and penalty killing units, it can’t get much worse.
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.
“That’s not a penalty!” one yelled.
This was halfway through the period and en route to a season-ending 4-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. You wondered about the irony there, or maybe the hypocrisy, but really, you almost felt sorry for the bloodthirsty lot.
After all, they’re hockey fans, not irony fans. To the provincial, the Hayes’ hit wasn’t brutal, it was just a “hockey play.” Brutal was going 0-3 at home and missing all 39 shots in Game 6.
Read the entire column.
How it happened: The Hawks dominated most of the game, but when Phoenix scored first the air in the United Center left the building. The Coyotes broke a scoreless tie with a second-period power play goal by Oliver Ekkman-Larsson after an interference call on Jonathan Toews. Larsson found a lane to shoot with a screen in front of Corey Crawford. Phoenix added three third-period tallies as Gilbert Brule scored a goal from in front of Crawford after the Hawks lost some puck battles in their own zone. Then came a vicious check by Jimmy Hayes to the back of Michal Rozsvial, drawing a five-minute major boarding infraction as well as a game misconduct. Phoenix scored a second power-play goal and then added another one. The Hawks pressured Mike Smith early in the contest, outshooting the Coyotes 39-20 on the night and 28-8 after two periods. That differential was indicative of the scoring chances, at least early on. The Hawks had the majority of them but could not figure out Smith. That is one of the main storylines of the series.
What it means: It means the Hawks wasted a good chance to move on to the second round. The Hawks have more talent on the roster -- except in goal. Yes, Smith helped steal this game, but if the Hawks had inundated him this way for the previous five they may not have been facing elimination. Joel Quenneville did a good job balancing out the lines to provide pressure from the start, but once again the Hawks' special teams let them down. It was a season-long issue and nothing changed in this series. The power-play goal from Larsson came with a screen in front and a missed chance at a shot block near the point. Again, both issues on the penalty kill have been season-long problems. Their power play chances were just as ineffective, going 1-for-19 in the series.
What's next: An offseason of change is likely and one question will certainly surround the core players. Could one be moved? Should one be moved? And who will take the fall among the coaches for a second consecutive first-round flameout? Both special teams units and the Hawks' goaltending were below par. That stuff usually falls on the assistants. And general manager Stan Bowman will be under the microscope as well.
Phoenix scored on the power play in the second after a questionable interference call on Jonathan Toews. Toews tried to enter the offensive zone, but ran into Gilbert Brule at the blue line instead.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored from the point on the ensuing man-advantage with Corey Crawford being screened.
The Hawks have dominated the action all night long, outshooting Phoenix 28-8 through 40 minutes. The home team ended the second period on the power play but failed to manage much of an attack. They’ll have 36 seconds of power-play time to start the third period.
Klesla headed to the locker room holding a towel to the right side of his head. Klesla has a goal and three assists in the first five games.
The Hawks came out flying as Joel Quennville balanced out his lines and each one provided pressure. The Hawks were outshooting the Coyotes 7-0 with less than five minutes gone by, outshot them 16-2 for the period. The two shots-against ties a season low.
Brendan Morrison had a strong opening period, registering three shots on net and providing a couple of nifty passes to set up his teammates. He’s playing with Jonathan Toews and Viktor Stalberg.
Both teams had a power-play opportunity but neither could cash in. The Hawks had just one shot on theirs while Phoenix didn't have any.