(Adds AP Photos.) By RICK GANO AP Sports Writer Mike Smith has been one of the hottest goalies in the NHL, a major reason the Phoenix Coyotes won a division title and have home ice against the Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round of the playoffs.
But it might be the guy on the far end of the ice who has as much to say about the outcome of the opening-round series. Chicago goalie Corey Crawford, who survived an up-and-down season to play some of his best hockey in the closing weeks, finished 8-1-2 over his final 11 games. And he was stellar in his previous playoff appearance in a seven-game opening-round loss to Vancouver a year ago.
Crawford is aware of how well Smith has played - he allowed two goals over the final five games and beat Chicago three times this season - but said it should have little bearing on how he performs in a series that begins Thursday night at Glendale, Ariz.
Facing Smith is not really the issue.
''I'm going to go out there and play the same way. Whate...