The Balsillie Bowl is on.
By defeating the Blackhawks tonight in Chicago, the Phoenix Coyotes have set up a matchup with the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Semifinals. As Pacific Division champions, the Coyotes hold the #3 seed and will have home-ice advantage over Nashville, so Games 1, 2, 5 & 7 would be in Phoenix, with Games 3, 4 & 6 at Bridgestone Arena.
After the jump, let's take our initial look at this series...
Regular Season Series Split
The Preds went 2-2 against Phoenix during the regular season, and to refresh your memory, here are those game recaps:
Coyotes 5, Predators 2: Nashville stumbles in home debut
Browse through the stats box on this one, about half the Preds that night are no longer with the team.
Predators 3, Coyotes 0: Pekka's Party
Peks celebrated his new 7-year contract by shutting out Phoenix.
Coyotes 3, Predators 2: Nashville drops 4th straight on home ice
A late 4-on-4 goal by Keith Yandle doomed the Preds.
Predators 5, Coyotes 4 (SO): A wild night in the Wild, Wild West
Andrei Kostitsyn scored the shootout winner.
The Coyotes have put aside off-ice concerns to put together another strong season under head coach Dave Tippett, this time perhaps being his most remarkably work in the desert. It was expected that after losing Ilya Bryzgalov to Philadelphia via free agency, the team had lost their most vital component, and would tumble out of the Western Conference playoff picture.
Instead, they simply plucked a wayward goalie off the Island of Misfit Toys, and got a standout performance from him:
|2011 - Mike Smith||67||3903||38||18||10||144||2.21||2066||1922||.930||8|
Since moving to Phoenix for the 1996-97 season, this is the first time the Coyotes have made it past the first round of the playoffs (even the old Winnipeg Jets never made it past the second round, going back to 1979-80).
We'll have lots more on this matchup in the days ahead, but in the meantime, pay a visit to our SB Nation brethren over at...