Hawks earn No. 6 playoff seed

CHICAGO -- Beginning Wednesday or Thursday the Chicago Blackhawks will take on the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Phoenix will have home-ice advantage in the best-of-seven series by virtue of winning the Pacific Division, which it clinched on Saturday with a win over the Wild. The Hawks earned 101 points but will be the No. 6 seed while the Coyotes have 97 points but earn the home ice by being a division winner. The league will announce the full playoff schedule at noon on Sunday.

"They played well against us," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after his team beat Detroit on Saturday. "They started extremely well in all the games. We had to play catch up which didn't play in our favor and it kind of complements their game. We saw first-hand last night (Friday) how good they can be. They have balance on their team and an active defense."

The Hawks were 1-2-1 against the Coyotes in the regular season, their lone win coming in Glendale in October. The Hawks lost twice at home, 4-1 and 4-3, to Phoenix in the span of a week in late November and early December.

"That coach has them playing a really defensive minded game," Patrick Sharp said. "They make it tough on me as a forward to get to that net. They've got some skilled forwards up front with (Radim) Vrbata and (Ray) Whitney that have had big years."

Phoenix and Chicago have the two worst power plays among playoff teams in the entire league. The Hawks convert at a 15-percent clip, the Coyotes at just under 14 percent. Phoenix ranked eighth killing penalties while the Hawks were 27th during the regular season.
Phoenix won its division title though no team earned over 100 points in the division. Four teams in the Central Division went over 100, including the Hawks.

Goalie Mike Smith was tied for third in the league with eight shutouts -- including one against the Hawks in February -- and didn't play against Chicago when the Hawks beat the Coyotes in October. Chicago did not have a shutout in the regular season.