"Imma elbow you real good..."
The Coyotes top 6 - now noticeably absent one Kyle Turris. The Coyotes aren't an offensive powerhouse but still manage an impressive top 3 scorers. After that, it gets a little dicey for the desert dogs. The Hawks will need to focus on shutting down the top line while still finding a way to contain their captain, Shane Doan, who skates on the second. After the jump, a break down of the top two lines. Sam will be around later with a look at the bottom 6.
|2011 - Ray Whitney||82||24||53||77||26||28||8||0||1||185|
|2011 - Martin Hanzal||64||8||26||34||12||63||3||0||2||145|
|2011 - Radim Vrbata||77||35||27||62||24||24||9||1||12||232|
Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata lead the way for the Yotes when it comes to offense. These two combined for 139 of the 458 points scored by the Phoenix forwards all year, so just about 30%. As Sam mentioned the other day, Whitney is the main threat from the Yotes with 77 points. That ties a career high for Whitney and beats last year's total by a full twenty points. Despite his age, Whitney still provides a slick pair of hands on the top line. He also brings great intelligence to the game and sees plays develop probably better than any other Coyotes forward. Although he does occasionally show so problems in the defensive zone, he put up a career high +26 this year, crushing his last best of +16 back in the '99-'00 season.
Radim Vrbata is just about guarenteed to score at least 3 annoying goals at some point in this series (even his profile pic here is annoying). Like Whitney, Vrbata put up career high numbers in the desert this season. Vrbata also has great vision and hands but isn't much of a physical presence. The next time he wins a battle in front of the net or along the boards may be his first. Still, he'll thrive if he's allowed to find soft spots in the ice and won't miss many chances he gets.
Hanzal provides a bit of size on this line and is by far the most defensively aware player of the group and can dominate in his own way but has whatever that common problem is that impacts so many players *coughbickellcough* where the play on the ice doesn't match up with his size. The Hawks smaller D can struggle with big aggressive forwards but Hanzal has yet to consistently use his size.
|2011 - Mikkel Boedker||82||11||13||24||-2||12||0||0||2||86|
|2011 - Antoine Vermette||82||11||26||37||-13||28||4||1||4||149|
|2011 - Shane Doan||79||22||28||50||-8||48||5||0||5||226|
This was the combination thrown out by Dave Tippet in the final game against the Wild... so we're just going to assume it's one we may see tomorrow night as well. From the looks of our player info widgets, it appears we have a line of all Left Wings... but hey, whatever works. The big name (and big elbows) of the group is captain Shane Doan who rounds out the top 3 scorers for the Yotes. Doan isn't afraid to use his size and can occasionally cross the line, as his suspensions show. That's not to say Doan is a dirty player though, just someone who can cross a line. He's the same type of captain as our own Toews. Strong in both ends, Solid scorer, leader... he even makes his own great faces sometimes.
There's a hefty step down after the top three scorers of Whitney, Vrbata and Doan. Vermette was brought in this year from Columbus and has taken over the second line center role. He's solid at faceoffs and defensively responsible. He also is a speedy skater but hasn't quite found his hands in the league yet. He can create chances but isn't the most consistent at finishing them off.
I'm not going to pretend to know a lot about Mikkel Boedker. He's a speedy forward like Vermette but also like Vermette, hasn't found his hands for finishing off a play. It's only his fourth year in the league and he fell 4 points shy of his rookie totals, which is still his career high. At this point, Boedker may be more potential than actual threat. Still not someone to sleep on though as his wheels make him dangerous.