The plan was to be physical with the Chicago Blackhawks, to out work them for the puck, and to make them work for every inch of ice they got. It was a formula that worked for the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round of last season’s playoffs. They had sent Chicago packing, and despite the Blackhawks recent success on the road, the plan was to send them off with a loss once again, but this time around, the Blackhawks had different plans.
Chicago came in riding an impressive streak of 11 games without a loss in regulation, and they were going to ride that momentum right into a bit of revenge owed from last season for a hit on the Blackhawks Marian Hossa by Raffi Torres. The hit knocked Hossa out of the playoffs and cost Torres a 21-game suspension and the two teams got to it almost immediately.
The problem was that when it was over, the Blackhawks went back to playing hockey, while the Coyotes seemed to still be stuck on what had just happened and they lost focus the rest of the game.
The Blackhawks are good this season, but the Coyotes had been playing tough the last four games. They believed that they would be competitive against Chicago and they probably should have been, but after the fight, they seemed to never be able to get back into the flow of the game and they were down by four goals by the end of the first period.
Phoenix had plans on building off of last season’s success, but playing undisciplined and unfocused like they did against the Blackhawks will get them nowhere. They have been up and down so far this season, but they will need to be more disciplined going forward if they want to have a shot at the playoffs again.