Blackhawks ready to prove themselves against Coyotes

Blackhawks ready to prove themselves against Coyotes
January 20, 2013, 4:56 pm
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After their 5-2 victory in Los Angeles, the Blackhawks headed to Glendale, Ariz., where they'll face the Coyotes Sunday night. Catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet beginning at 8:30 with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

GLENDALE, Ariz. The Chicago Blackhawks first-round playoff series with the Phoenix Coyotes last season had a little bit of everything. Enough overtimes to fill a deadline writers nightmares, big hits some a little too big high drama, a good dose of venom and a couple of player suspensions.

Its intriguing stuff. And thanks to that six-game series that seemed so placid and harmless at the start, the Blackhawks and Coyotes are developing a little rivalry that continues tonight at Jobing.com Arena.

No, the Blackhawks-Coyotes isnt near the Blackhawks-Canucks matchups in terms of angst, bad blood and nastiness. OK, other than Blackhawks fans not being big on Raffi Torres, first for giving Brent Seabrook a concussion in the 2011 playoffs and then Marian Hossa last spring.

But theres still something there between the Hawks and Yotes, bred from the close and emotional series that led to another premature playoff end for the Blackhawks.

Ive always said if you play a team in the playoffs you all of a sudden have history with them. Even the next year, game by game, it gets more personal as it goes along, captain Jonathan Toews said. Theyll be ready to bounce back from their game (Saturday) and we have to do the same and be ready to play.

Patrick Sharp agreed.

Every time you face a team in the playoffs, theres always some bad blood, he said. Theyve got a lot of classy guys over there and theyre a respectful team. But theyre still the team that sent us home last year so we want to make sure we play our best.

For Hossa, the budding rivalry may take a bit of a backseat. His 2011-12 season ended in Game 3 with that Torres elbow to his head, and this is just his second game since then. Torres wont be playing tonight hes still serving seven more games from that 21-game suspension. And for Hossa, he doesnt look at this game as a hurdle to clear.

I dont think about it that way. Its just another game for me, said Hossa, who was asked about the potential emotional level tonight. To tell you the truth, I dont know what to expect. Im going to prepare as usual.

Andrew Shaw also had a front seat to last years series although he watched from afar for three of those games, his punishment for hitting Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith. He said this one could get feisty quick.

Every game gets a little snarly, he said. I just have to try to get under their skin, take pucks into dirty areas and hopefully contribute to the power play.

Blackhawks-Coyotes isnt Blackhawks-Canucks. But theres definitely some angst there that, as Toews said, could build with more matchups. Who knows if they could meet in the postseason again. Right now, the Blackhawks would settle for a little regular-season vindication.

Its the second game into the season and youre playing team that beat you in the playoffs, Shaw said. You cant wait to get at them.