May 8, 2012, 12:39 AM EDT
The bad news: the Phoenix Coyotes’ longer-term future in the desert remains pretty fuzzy and unsettled. The good news: their season of firsts – in a good way – keeps rolling along.
They won their first Pacific Division title, their first series as the Coyotes and now will enter the Western Conference finals for the first time after shutting down the Nashville Predators 2-1 to take their semifinals series 4-1. Let’s get the discussion ball rolling.
- After surviving against the Chicago Blackhawks in round one and staring down Pekka Rinne in the semifinals, is it time to consider Mike Smith elite? Was it already time?
- Echoing that last sentiment, where does he rank among the best netminders right now? Even sexier: would your rather have him or Los Angeles Kings ace Jonathan Quick between the pipes at the moment?
- Dave Tippett won a Jack Adams for his first season’s work in Phoenix, but is this his best work as an NHL bench boss yet? (He had some nice moments with the Dallas Stars, too.)
- On your perch of hindsight, answer the question: did Barry Trotz make the right move by suspending Andrei Kostitsyn and Alex Radulov for two games? If not, should it just have been for one or none?
- Which team is your early favorite in the Western Conference finals: the third-seed Coyotes (who obviously gain home ice advantage) or the eighth-seed, giant-killing Kings?
- Will another run to the semifinals be good enough to keep Shea Weber and/or Ryan Suter? If not, will the Predators look back at this series as their biggest defeat in franchise history?
- Fanspeak: Lemieux (stunner!) voted greatest Penguin in franchise history 0
- Under Pressure: Mike Johnston 13
- It’s Pittsburgh Penguins Day at PHT 31
- Captain no more: Sharks strip Thornton of ‘C’ 44
- Tank defense: NHL changes up Draft Lottery format 50
- Fanspeak: Clarke voted greatest Flyer in franchise history 33
- Different tune: Moore hasn’t settled with Bertuzzi, says brother 31
- Rangers win Kevin Hayes sweepstakes 28
- Kovalev compares Subban to Leetch, says he isn’t worth the money 53
- Under pressure: Rick Nash 10