The Phoenix Coyotes were a mere six seconds away from taking a commanding 2-0 series lead against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
Instead, for the second time in two games, the Coyotes failed to hold onto to a third period lead as the seconds dwindled off the clock. But unlike Game 1, the Coyotes couldn’t muster any overtime magic.
Former Coyotes and Blackhawks center and NHL great Jeremy Roenick told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo Monday the Coyotes’ Game 2 loss will sting for quite some time.
“That loss is demoralizing,” Roenick said. “Phoenix being tied right now, I don’t know how I would feel going into Game 3. You could be up 2-0, going into Chicago and feeling a little bit better about yourself. But now you’re 1-1, you’ve lost home ice advantage and you’re going into the Madhouse on Madison. It’s going to be nuts. It’s got to be so disheartening.”
The Coyotes missed an opportunity to take a stranglehold on the series, and while it is a tough pill to swallow, Roenick isn’t counting out Dave Tippett’s troops to rebound in Chicago.
“The Coyotes, in my opinion, are one of the best road teams in the National Hockey League and have been all year,” Roenick explained. “By no means am I writing them off. I can’t write them off. I picked them to win in seven. So, I expect them to play just as well on the road as they do at home.”
Roenick believes even if the Coyotes are to win this series, they’ll be much worse for the wear.
“You have to play extra games,” Roenick stated. “One of the best things about closing out hockey games and winning as fast as you can is rest. If you have to go play that sixth and seventh game because of games you dropped that takes away from your health, from your energy, so nobody wants to play more games.”
One of the players who could have surely benefited from extra rest is goaltender Mike Smith, who took a brutal hit from Blackhawks rookie forward Andrew Shaw in Game 2.
While Roenick doesn’t believe it was an intentional hit, he does think the league has a responsibility to review the play to see if it’s cause for suspension.
“[Shaw] made a bad decision in terms of the direction he went to,” Roenick explained. “He didn’t try to hit Mike Smith, I think he tried to sneak inside and take a very perilous route, no question. It was an accidental contact from the shoulder to his head.
“He could’ve avoided it. He could’ve closed off the boards and not let Mike Smith wrap the puck around the boards. So he made the decision to go into a very tough area. To me, I think [NHL Senior VP of Player Safety Brendan] Shanahan should look at it and see if the rules that he has written deem proper to suspend him for a game.”
Shaw will learn Tuesday if he will be sanctioned for his hit on Smith. As for the Coyotes, Roenick anticipates they’re in for a tenacious fight to the finish.
“I still think they’re going to win the series,” Roenick said. “I think it’s going to take seven and I say that because of Mike Smith and I say that because the Coyotes are a good road team. But, boy they make it a lot harder on themselves.”