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Tonight on Versus: Blackhawks seek redemption against Coyotes

Dec 5, 2011, 7:30 AM EDT

Mike Smith, Viktor Stalberg AP

It’s the second week in a row that the Blackhawks and Coyotes get to face off against each other, but when they face off tonight in Chicago (8 p.m. ET on Versus), it’ll be the Blackhawks seeking redemption.

Last week we saw Coyotes goalie Mike Smith stand tall while Corey Crawford was chased out of the net in a 4-1 loss. Crawford’s had his ups and downs this season coming off a year that saw him rise to the top and become one of the better goalies in the league. It hasn’t been nearly as easy this season as his numbers are down. Yet through all this, Chicago still sits atop the Central Division and Western Conference with the Minnesota Wild. Go figure.

Meanwhile, Mike Smith has looked like a revelation in Dave Tippett’s system in Phoenix. While we were all highly skeptical of the way the Coyotes fixed their goaltending situation after seeing Ilya Bryzgalov go to Philly, Smith has seized the day and looked just as good as Bryzgalov always used to. Give credit to Smith for playing strong, but also to Tippett for having the brand of hockey that can allow a goalie to settle in and just do their job.

While the Blackhawks bring all the big name offense to this game with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp, the Coyotes have a foursome of their own doing some great work. Led by Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata, the Coyotes also have captain Shane Doan and Keith Yandle pumping in the points themselves. The Coyotes might not strike you as a team that can be dangerous with scoring, yet here they are in the middle of things in the Pacific Division.

Chicago has bounced back nicely from their loss to Phoenix last week winning two in a row, but knocking off the Coyotes at home after getting thumped would help give them that swagger back. Phoenix would be happy to just frustrate them all over again.

  1. pastabelly - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:34 AM

    Versus would be better off with Bruins @ Penguins.

  2. faminsk - Dec 5, 2011 at 9:42 AM

    This absolutely ridiculous. Let’s take a look at the Versus schedule for a minute. Here is a list of the following teams and the amount of times that they will be broadcast on VS/NBC before the next time the Bruins are televised.

    Chicago Blackhawks – 3
    Detroit Red Wings – 3
    Dallas Stars – 4
    St. Louis Blues – 3
    Philadelphia Flyers – 3

    I guess if they weren’t the defending Stanley Cup Champions, they would never be on.

    I don’t live where I can get the local broadcasts of them, I would like to see the team that I follow without having to shell out $179.00 so I can get a whole lot more hockey games I don’t want to watch.

    • comeonnowguys - Dec 5, 2011 at 11:24 AM

      This is why I hate ESPN. They moved the center of the galaxy to Boston.

      There are teams west of the Connecticut River.

  3. pastabelly - Dec 5, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    Wow, that is ridiculous and the Bruins are a great draw for NBC. Last year’s Game 7 had the highest rating of any hockey game since 1969 and there was only team from a US market involved. There has to be something else going on here. The Bruins are actually playing a more entertaining brand of hockey than they did last year. They are scoring a lot of goals and are still playing a very physical game. I wonder if it has something to do with the teams you mentioned already having deals with Comcast while the Bruins have a deal with NESN, which they partially own (Red Sox own a larger share).

    I would just think that the league would want to showcase its two top US teams right now.

    • comeonnowguys - Dec 5, 2011 at 11:29 AM

      Don’t underestimate 48 or so states rooting for Vancouver to lose.

  4. jpelle82 - Dec 5, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    who cares about ratings? obviously not nbc

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