Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 4/9/12

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Dave Tippett of the Phoenix Coyotes during the preseason NHL game against the San Jose Sharks at Jobing.com Arena on September 26, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Sharks 2-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A year ago, the Coyotes' heads were spinning. Prospective buyer Matthew Hulsizer had taken the team out for New Asian cuisine at Sunda restaurant in Chicago and later promised FOX Sports Arizona that this deal is gonna close to keep the team in Phoenix. Meanwhile, rampant Canadian media reports insisted the team was headed to Winnipeg to resolve its 2-year-old ownership issue, with several of those reports ill-timed as the Coyotes began the playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings. There were so many conflicting reports, coach Dave Tippett said. It wasnt just Game 1 (against Detroit) -- it seemed like the whole last half of the year. There were way more distractions. We had a reporter from Winnipeg following us around here all the time. This year, not so much. While the ownership situation remains in limbo and the possibility exists that a Canadian media outlet will drop another bombshell (maybe theyll wait until Thursday), Tippett said this spring has largely been free of distractions. The NHL has done a great job, Tippett said. This year, the distractions have been very limited. Its been quiet, which has been a real good thing from our end. ALL HANDS ON DECK Tippett said defenseman Adrian Aucoin (lower body) will be ready for Game 1 of the teams playoff series with the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, meaning every player is healthy and available. The Coyotes had an optional skate Monday, with a scattering of players taking part. TOEWS BACK? Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews met with reporters after practice and remained uncertain about his status for Thursdays game after missing the seasons final 22 contests with a concussion and the corresponding symptoms. "I wanted to err on the cautious side by me not playing, he said of the long layoff. "I'm feeling more confident Thursday might be the day, but well see." Toews has been cleared for contact for a while, and it was notable that he was centering the Blackhawks' top line in practice Monday, but he said late last week that he still doesnt feel quite right. Coach Joel Quenneville sounded more optimistic, however. "There (are) all the hurdles to cross along the way, and hes passed them all, Quenneville said. "Well visit with him as we go along the next few days." Most of the media members who cover the team on a regular basis expect Toews to play. His presence would change the dynamic of this series, because until he was injured, Toews was headed for a big year with 29 goals and 28 assists in 59 games. Hes also a talented two-way forward who also brings a steadying influence to the team despite his young age (23). IS PAST A PREDICTOR? The Coyotes went 3-1 against the Hawks this season, but Tippett said not to read too much into that. If we had played twice in the last few weeks, youd get a little better indication, but we havent played them since February, Tippett said. You get to the playoffs, everything starts new. Theyre a good team. Were going to have our hands full. THE SYSTEM Tippetts style is widely referred to as a defensive one. Clearly, the Coyotes still need to score goals, but focusing on the defensive zone first may take a little away from the teams offense. It keeps you from cheating, wing Ray Whitney said. You maybe dont get as many breakaways as youd like, but it takes care of the No. 1 end, and thats your own. Playoff hockey is usually defensive hockey. Scoring chances are limited. If youre used to that all year long, its not as big an adjustment for you. "Offensive players who have to tighten up, generally in the playoffs, it will take a few games for them to grab that concept. We wont have that problem in here.
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