The No. 3 seeded Phoenix Coyotes play hosts to the Chicago Blackhawks tonight, Thursday April 12th, in the opener of the Western Conference quarterfinals. The Coyotes have won three straight over the Blackhawks outscoring them 11-4. NHL oddsmakers have installed the Coyotes as -120 moneyline home favorites over the Blackhawks (+110) with the over/under set at 5 goals. Be sure to check the Chicago Blackhawks vs Phoenix Coyotes 2012 NHL Playoff Odds before they drop the puck.
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews inevitably announces he will rejoin the lineup tonight. The addition of Toews after missing the final 22 games of the regular season with a concussion is the latest in a recent series of positive events for the Hawks as they prepare for their fourth consecutive postseason. Other hopeful signs include injury-hobbled players having healed almost completely, goaltender Corey Crawford back at the top of his game, defenseman Duncan Keith rested after a five-game suspension and the Hawks’ team game looking better than is has all season.
After mercifully putting an end to their nine-game streak Feb. 16, the Hawks went 16-5-4 the rest of the way, including 6-1-3 in their last 10 games. While overall the Hawks are on the upswing, there are areas still in need of tweaking, most notably a vexing power play.
Phoenix has plenty of confidence after going 7-1-2 over their final 10 to capture the Pacific Division. The division title was nice, but the Coyotes are hungry for more. “It’s not something you want to hang your hat on,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said of the Pacific title. “It’s an accomplishment and we’ll certainly take that but the celebration was very minimal. All that means is home-ice advantage for us and we have to take advantage of it.”
With goalie Mike Smith between the pipes it’s their best shot at forging ahead, pushing into the second round, making some serious noise.In 67 games, Smith posted a 38-18-10 record, 2.21 goals-against-average and .930 save percentage. His 2,066 saves were second only to Nashville’s Pekka Rinne. He pieced together a 234-minute, 25-second shutout string.
Radim Vrbata is the prime sniper on a defensive-minded club, his 35 goals a career high at age 30 and the residue of, at last, feeling comfortable. In 122 games with the Hawks, Vrbata amassed 27 goals. He had 27 in his first stint with the Coyotes in 2007-08 before temporarily bolting to Czechoslovakia and then returning to post 24 more in 2009-10. His point total increased from 43 to 48 to a career-best 62 this season to go with a plus-24 rating.
The Bottom Line: I’d like to see the Coyotes win, but I think with the Blackhawks healthy they’ll be a force to reckon with. Want to dominate the books this season with some of the best NHL Picks Experts in the business? Then sign up right now and get NHL Picks Free!
Recent Trends to Consider:
Favorite is 5-2 in the last 7 meetings.
Under is 30-13-2 in the last 45 meetings.
Road team is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings.
Coyotes are 4-0 in their last 4 games as a home favorite.
Coyotes are 4-0 in their last 4 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game.
Coyotes are 6-0 in their last 6 games as a favorite.
Coyotes are 4-0 in their last 4 games following a win.
Coyotes are 5-0 in their last 5 overall.
Coyotes are 5-0 in their last 5 vs. Western Conference.
Coyotes are 5-1 in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
Coyotes are 4-1 in their last 5 home games.
Blackhawks are 1-6 in their last 7 vs. Pacific.
Blackhawks are 0-4 in their last 4 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
Chicago Blackhawks vs Phoenix Coyotes
When: Thursday, April 12th@10:00 PM EST
Pick: Coyotes -120
Point-Spreads recommends you check the Chicago Blackhawks vs Phoenix Coyotes 2012 NHL Playoff Odds before they drop the puck.