The best day in the history of the Phoenix Coyotes?


The best day in the history of the Phoenix Coyotes?

From Comcast SportsNetGLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- An hour before one of the biggest games in franchise history, the Phoenix Coyotes learned a deal was in place for a new owner, one they hoped would end three years of uncertainty.They celebrated in typical fashion: grinding out another victory.This one, though, will take them somewhere they've never been before: the Western Conference finals.Relying again on their grit and the superb goaltending of Mike Smith, the Coyotes beat the Nashville Predators 2-1 on Monday night to earn their first trip to the conference finals in 33 years as an NHL franchise."It feels great right now, a lot of hard work," Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle said. "It's been a battle the past few years, but it's a lot of fun and we're blessed to be where we are right now."The day started off with news the Coyotes and their fans had been anticipating for three years.Speaking as players from both teams warmed up in the hallway, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that a tentative deal had been reached to sell the Coyotes to former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison.The Coyotes paid it no mind. They had spent the previous three seasons with the uncertainty hanging over them and had learned to keep their focus on the ice, not what happens off it.Playing its usual counterpunching style, Phoenix withstood an early flurry by Nashville and followed with goals from Derek Morris and Martin Hanzal in the second period.And, as usual, the Coyotes gave up a late goal to make it interesting, this one by Colin Wilson with just under 6 minutes left.Phoenix has become accustomed to seat-of-their-pants victories, though, and they pulled out another one, nearly getting an empty-net goal by Smith before setting off a raucous celebration on the ice rink surrounded by desert.Next up for the Coyotes are the Los Angeles Kings, the first No. 8 seed to knock off Nos. 1 and 2 in the same playoffs."We've learned a lot as a group who we are and every guy has contributed in the series and the playoffs," said Smith, who stopped 32 shots. "It's been different guys in different series and it's been a big part of our success."Nashville, as it did all series, had plenty of good chances against Smith. Even forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn back from two-game suspensions, the Predators couldn't find a way to capitalize, hitting the post at least three times and managing one goal despite outshooting the Coyotes 33-17.The loss knocks Nashville out of the playoffs in the conference semifinals for the second straight season."They found a way to keep the puck out of the net," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "In the end, we had enough chances to win this series, but we didn't win. We couldn't bury anything past Smith."The Coyotes got some long-awaited good news before the game, when Bettman announced the league had a tentative deal to sell the team to Jamison.There's no official sale agreement yet and Jamison still needs to work out lease details with the city of Glendale, which could be a dicey proposition with conservative watchdog group the Goldwater Institute lurking. Still, after three years of waiting, the move toward ownership and staying in the desert took a big step.It had already been a great season.Relying on Smith and their protect-at-all-costs mentality, the unflashy Coyotes won their first division title as an NHL franchise and advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 25 years.Phoenix moved within the brink of the conference finals for the first time by beating Nashville twice in the desert and again in Game 4 on Smith's second shutout of the playoffs.With Arena juiced and Bettman, not to mention their potential new boss in the house, the Coyotes played their pack-in-and-counter game the way they have all playoffs.Nashville had the advantage early in a tight first period, Phoenix took it late, but neither scored.The Coyotes broke through early in the second, when Pekka Rinne made a kick save on a breakaway by Shane Doan, but couldn't stop Morris' shot from the point after Phoenix reset.The Predators tried to rally, turning up the pressure.Instead of the tying goal, they hit the post three times -- twice in one rapid-fire sequence -- and had another shot blocked by diving Coyotes. Smith also made a snatching save on a wrister by Gabriel Bourque.Phoenix then went back to its counterattacking ways, with Kyle Chipchura breaking out, holding, then setting up Hanzal's wrister that Rinne couldn't see with a defender in his way."That is kind of how the series went," Predators defenseman Ryan Suter said. "We didn't capitalize on their chances and they came back and it ended up in the back of our net."Up 2-0, the Coyotes packed it in, diving to block shots while giving the Predators only slivers of shooting lanes.Wilson squeezed a puck through one of them with 5:59 left, flicking a pass from David Legwand past Smith, ending his scoreless streak of more than 160 minutes.The Coyotes wouldn't let them score again and Smith nearly ended it with a flourish, missing an empty-net by a few inches with 2 seconds left.It didn't matter at that point -- the Coyotes were on their way to the conference finals, capping one of the biggest days in franchise history with another wipe-the-brow victory."Coyote ugly -- that's kind of been the motto here," Smith said. "We just find a way to win."Notes: Doan played his 50th career playoff game. ... The team that scored first won every game in the series. ... Nashville went 0 for 4 on the power play. ... Phoenix played without D Rostislav Klesla, who was suspended a game by the league for his Game 4 hit on Nashville forward Matt Halischuk.

Over-under: Analyzing Bulls' player propositions for 2016-17

Over-under: Analyzing Bulls' player propositions for 2016-17

Last week Bovada released a handful of Bulls player proposition over-unders. Here's a look at 10 of those numbers, with predicitions on which players will reach those thresholds in 2016-17.


Team wins: 38.5 (Last year: 42)

The pick: Fred Hoiberg had a pretty tumultuous first season in Chicago, the Bulls’ starting backcourt missed 31 games and Joakim Noah fizzled out before a season-ending injury. And yet the Bulls still managed 42 wins. How the Three Alphas and a lack of outside shooting fit Hoiberg’s style remains to be seen, and while the playoffs may not happen in an improving Eastern Conference, at least 39 wins should be manageable. OVER (40)

Jimmy Butler

Points per game: 20.5 (Last year: 20.9)

The pick: There’s a chance Dwyane Wade’s arrival will cut into Butler’s FGA (15.4) and FTA (7.1). There’s also a chance that the 27-year-old All-Star continues to improve once again in his sixth NBA season. Having a true facilitator in Rajon Rondo should really benefit him, the way Rondo did for DeMarcus Cousins (who improved by 2.5 points per game with Rondo). Everyone at the Advocate Center says the Bulls are Jimmy Butler’s team. His scoring will reflect that. OVER (21.7)

Rebounds per game: 5.5 (Last year: 5.3)

The pick: Whereas Butler may not see his scoring and usage decrease, the Bulls’ offseason moves to get Rondo and Wade give them two of the league’s best rebounding guards. Only Russell Westbrook averaged more rebounds per game among point guards than Rondo’s 6.0 average, and Wade has averaged four or more rebounds in all but one of his 13 NBA seasons. This one’s more of a toss-up, but with Rondo and Wade in the fold Butler may take a small hit on the glass. UNDER (4.8)

Dwyane Wade

Points per game: 17.0 (Last year: 19.0)

The pick: The future Hall of Famer is destined to drop off at some point, soon to be 35 with nearly 37,000 career minutes played. But 17.0 points per game would be the lowest mark of his career since his rookie season in Miami (16.2) and the Bulls don’t have a plethora of scoring options outside of Butler. It may not look pretty, and it may not be efficient, but Wade should flirt near the 19.0 points per game he averaged in his final season with the Heat. OVER (18.5)

Games played: 67.5 (Last year: 74)

The pick: This one’s tricky. On one hand it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Wade miss some time this season. He defied the odds in playing 74 games last season – it was the most games he had played since 2011 – and most likely won’t get there in 2016-17. On the other hand, the Bulls may be fighting for their playoff lives down the stretch and may need Wade to play a few extra games in April. Still, Wade played 62 and 54 games the last two years before 2016. He’ll be closer to that than 74. UNDER (65)

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Rajon Rondo

Points per game: 11.0 (Last year: 11.9)

The pick: Rondo averaged the third most FGA per game for the Kings last year, trailing DeMarcus Cousins (20.5) and Rudy Gay (14.4). And while he’ll play enough minutes to hover around the 10.9 field goal attempts he averaged in 2015-16, there are more playmakers around him that he won’t be asked to shoot as much with the Bulls. His point totals were also helped out by the 36.5 percent he shot from deep, and that likely will take a hit this season. UNDER (9.5)

Assists per game: 10.5 (Last year: 11.7)

The pick: Another tricky one here, as Rondo is clearly going to be the one initiating offense. But he also will be playing alongside two players in Wade and Butler who need the ball in their hands to be successful, and who are also above-average passers in the their own respective rights. Still, Rondo has topped 11 assists per game in four of the last six seasons, and there are enough scorers around him for him to get there again this season. OVER (11.5)

Nikola Mirotic

Points per game: 13.0 (Last year: 11.8)

The pick: The fate of the Bulls’ playoff hopes may rest on this number. Mirotic should get the first stab at winning the power forward position, and playing alongside the Three Alphas is going to open up plenty of looks for him. His field goal attempts per game may go down, but his efficiency should improve playing with three guards who can create space and make defenses rotate. This one will be close, but Mirotic should bump his average up over this mark as the lone outside threat in the starting lineup. OVER (13.8)

Robin Lopez

Rebounds per game: 8.0 (Last year: 7.3)

The pick: This one may be the easiest of the bunch. Assuming Taj Gibson remains on the second unit, Lopez is going to rack up the boards playing the majority of his minutes next to Mirotic. All three starting guards can rebound, but Lopez is going to get the opportunities early and often. With only Cristiano Felicio behind him, Lopez should enjoy a career year on the glass, surpassing the 8.5 rebounds per game he averaged for the Blazers in 2014. OVER (9.0)

Taj Gibson

Points per game: 8.5 (Last year: 8.6)

The pick: The contract year phenomenon is real. Gibson is in the final year of his contract and had a fantastic preseason, averaging 16 points and eight rebounds. He won’t reach those numbers in the regular season, but it would be a shock if he didn’t improve on his numbers from a year ago. He shot a career-best 52.6 percent from the field under Fred Hoiberg, and he could easily get back to double-digit points per game, which he did in his final two years under Tom Thibodeau. Believe in the contract year. OVER (12.5)

Morning Update: Cubs open World Series tonight; Hawks lose in shootout

Morning Update: Cubs open World Series tonight; Hawks lose in shootout

Here are some of the biggest stories from the day in Chicago sports:

Complete Cubs-Indians World Series Game 1 coverage on CSN

Blackhawks get a point but Kris Versteeg wins it for Flames in shootout

Cubs see Kyle Schwarber looming as potential World Series hero

Five Things from Blackhawks-Flames: Same old story on the penalty kill

Local product and former fan Jason Kipnis has 'zero conflict' extending Cubs' World Series title drought

Bears get Jay Cutler back as QB competition with Brian Hoyer fades to black

No-brainer: Cubs rolling with Jon Lester again in World Series Game 1

The making of a superstar: Kris Bryant believes in Cubs — not goats or curses

What can the Cubs expect from the Cleveland Indians in the World Series?