Blackhawks/Coyotes playoff preview - solving Newtons' law of motion
Remember back in school when you studied science and physics and learned about Sir Isaac Newton and his laws of motion? Remember his 3rd law of motion – For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Now this series will be a study in contrasts. These teams are the polar opposites. The Coyotes employ a tight defensive style of play while the Blackhawks would prefer a free wheeling offensive style of play. These will be two forces of equal yet opposite forces.
I’m not going to spend much time talking about the regular season records these two teams had against each other because we are in the second season when everything starts fresh and intangibles factor in just as much as tangibles. If you don’t recall the Hawks were 1-2-1 against Phoenix in the regular season with their only win coming against goalie Jason LaBarbera. Let’s take a look at the tangibles.
Defense – You’d have to give the Coyotes the advantage here as they were ranked 5th in goals against per games. We all know the Hawks struggled in this area all year and finished 22nd. This was the Achilles heel of the Hawks particularly in that 9 game losing streak stretch. The Hawks have been playing a better team defensive game and will need to continue here in order to have success.
Offense – You’d have to give this to the Blackhawks advantage as they were ranked 6th in scoring goals and Phoenix was ranked 18th in the league. The Blackhawks with Jonathan Toews back in the line-up have five 20 goal + scorers in Toews, Kane, Sharp, Hossa & Stalberg. Phoenix only has Vbata, Whitney and their captain Doan.
Goaltending – most people will give the advantage in this category to Phoenix because of their incredible goalie Mike Smith. Smith had a tremendous year with 8 shut outs and GAA 2.21 & Sv % of .930. Crawford ended the year with no shut outs posted and 2.72 GAA & .903 Sv %. The Hawks need to get dirty goals. Get bodies to the net and just keep blasting at Smith from all angles. The most important factor though is Crawford does not need to be spectacular because of the team in front of him can score a lot of goals. Crawford also has a knack of upping his play when he needs to. Slight advantage to Phoenix.
Special Teams – If the Hawks can take any consolation, the Coyotes power play is even more dreadful than theirs in the regular season. Where Phoenix has the edge is in the PK which was significantly better than the Hawks. Chicago needs to stay out of the penalty box period. This series will be won or lost in the 5 on 5 play.
Those are all the measurable items now to the intangibles:
Home Ice - Phoenix has home ice but not really. Phoenix is not a hockey town like Chicago and in fact there maybe more Blackhawks fans in Phoenix than Coyote fans especially since this franchise may not even be in Phoenix next year. Even if the Coyotes outnumber the Hawks fans in AZ Jobing Arena can not compare to the United Center. Advantage Blackhawks.
Coaching – Dave Tippett has coached the Coyotes since 2009. He has playoff experience but not Stanley Cup experience like coach Joel Quenneville. This can not be discounted in the playoffs the importance of coaching composure and knowing your personnel and matchups which Quenneville is a master at. Advantage: Blackhawks
Experience – while this team is not the same as the one that won the Stanley Cup, the core is still intact. They know what it takes to win not only a series but to get to the Stanley Cup finals and win. This experience is invaluable and incalculable. Advantage Blackhawks
Phoenix will play a physical tight defensive style of play and jam up center ice while the Hawks will play a finesse speedy paced style. The Hawks need to move quickly out of their zone and the neutral zone
Also this series will see Raffe Torres, you know the guy who had the cheap shot on Seabrook last year in the Canucks series which should have all the Hawks heads on swivels . This should be an interesting series and will be closer than you think. If the Hawks can stay disciplined and be patient and solve Mike Smith they should win this one in six.
Newton’s 3rd law of motion may apply to this series. If the Hawks can either employ greater force, not necessarily with physicality but with their team speed and skills it could be the difference. If they can anticipate the Coyotes reactions and force takeaways or get Smith deep in his crease and are able to redirect pucks laws of physics they maybe able to overcome Phoenix’s stifling defense. The Blackhawks can overcome the laws of physics and replace them with the laws of hockey where anything is possible.
Hawks play against the Phoenix Coyotes which can be caught on TSN, NBCSN,RDS, CSN-CH HD or WGN Radio 720. Start time is at 9:00 pm CT
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