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Sports

Coyotes' coach defends Torres

CHICAGO – To hear Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett describe the play, one might think that Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa decided to ram his head into Raffi Torres’ shoulder.

Yet, somehow, Torres was the one who received an indefinite suspension.

“I don’t think there was any malicious intent on Raffi’s part,” Tippett said Wednesday, a day after Torres delivered a vicious hit that caused Hossa to be placed on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to a hospital. “He’s a hard hitter. That’s the way he plays the game.”

Meanwhile, Tippett offered a conspiracy theory about why Torres’ hit against Hossa created such controversy. Torres was the victim of a biased big-city news media searching for scandal.

“When [Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith hit Vancouver Canucks forward Daniel Sedin] a few weeks ago, there was none of the hoopla,” Tippett said. “People were saying it was a bad hit, but not to the extent that this is. Every team and every team's media protects their own team. That's the nature of the beast here, all right?

“You ask people in Vancouver right now what they think of the Keith hit, they’re probably thinking the same thing as [people in Chicago] with the Torres hit.”

Deny, deny, deny: Tippett disputed a reporter's statement that Torres leaped to deliver the hit. He suggested that the force of the impact caused both players to go into the air.

Although replays showed otherwise, Tippett carried on with his alternate reality.

“Anybody who has played the game might understand it,” Tippett said. “But a lot of people who haven't been out there and haven't had a hit, they don't understand that you can't just in full motion stop – ‘I can't hit that guy because I'm going too fast.’

“The game doesn't work that way. It's a hard game. It can be brutal at times. But it's about winning, and it's what makes our game great.”

Getting a chance: Hawks coach Joel Quenneville did not plan on playing top prospect Brandon Saad during the series, but Hossa’s injury changed those plans.

Quennville said “a good chance” existed that Saad would be on the ice for Game 4. Saad, 19, appeared in two games with the Hawks to start the season before heading to the minor leagues, where he dominated with 76 points in 44 games with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit.

“We know what he can do offensively,” Quenneville said. “He gives us some nice assets and some nice opportunity to have some skill, and I think he can complement some guys with skill as well.”

Hawks bits: Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford has posted a .911 save percentage during the series, compared with a .939 save percentage for Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith. … Hawks forward Patrick Kane leads the team with four points during the series and has 18 points in his past 14 playoff games.

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