The Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks roll into town to face the Phoenix Coyotes for the first game of their six game home stand and it's the last regular season meeting between these two teams.
Even though the Coyotes are celebrating a successful road trip that had them collect all eight available points and perform a sweep of the western Canadian teams, former Chicago Blackhawk captain Adrian Aucoin also celebrates 1000 games of service in the NHL and he will be honored during a pre-game ceremony.
This season's series between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Phoenix Coyotes has been decided by one goal with the Coyotes holding a 2-0-1 record over the Blackhawks. Will the Blackhawks spoil the party and take two points away from the Coyotes? Will the Coyotes fall victim to the trap of the first home game after a successful road trip?
The Chicago Blackhawks have definitely taken the worst of it lately going 1-3-2, and getting clobbered by the Dallas Stars. Even though they smoked San Jose 6-3 at home, the Stars shut them out 5-0 Thursday night in Dallas.
They also have injury issues losing stalwart defenseman Brian Campbell due to a lower-body injury and forward Dave Bolland due to a concussion. Blackhawks' forward Bryan Bickell was scratched Thursday night due to an illness.
It is not a surprise that the Blackhawks defensive woes have been directly linked to the absence of Campbell as he has missed four of their last five games. It is unclear when he'll be back as he has made slow progress to heal from this injury.
Good news for the Coyotes, right? Well, as long as the Blackhawks can score goals, they are still a big time threat. Even though the top line of Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane were split up during the Dallas debacle, they have produced mightily during their last 14 games scoring 23 goals between them. Forward Marian Hossa has been good as well scoring eight goals and six assists during that same span.
The Coyotes have been on a roll picking up important points with their push to the post-season. They have gotten key contributions from Shane Doan who is riding a seven-game point streak where he has produced four goals and six assists. Streaky Lee Stempniak is riding a three-game goal streak as he looks to stay on the positive side of the ledger. Ilya Bryzgalov has been just amazing by holding a 1.50 GAA and a .975 save percentage in his last four.
It is important for the Coyotes to begin this home stand strong by taking advantage of a decimated Blackhawks team.
Five for Winning
- The Coyotes still struggle in the discipline department as they have taken 25 penalties over the course of four games with nine against the Edmonton Oilers. The Blackhawks have the second best power play in the NHL.
- By contrast, if the Coyotes can get their power play moving, the Blackhawks possess the 25th worst penalty kill in the NHL.
- If the top line of Sharp, Toews, and Kane get reunited, limiting their options just like they did with Henrik and Daniel Sedin in Vancouver and Jerome Iginla in Calgary will be a benefit. They pushed the scorers to the outside and allowed Ilya Bryzgalov and Jason LaBarbera to see the puck cleanly.
- Pay attention to Marian Hossa - he can cause damage as well.
- Without the services of Brian Campbell, the blueline of the Blackhawks has issues. An aggressive steady forecheck will work very well against this team.
|2010 - Corey Crawford||46||2670||27||14||105||2.36||1239||1134||.915||3|
|2010 - Ilya Bryzgalov||59||3508||32||17||149||2.55||1845||1696||.919||6|
|2010 - Jonathan Toews||30||41||71||24||20|
During this season's series, Toews has lit the lamp twice.
|2010 - Keith Yandle||11||46||57||7||66|
Yandle has been everything for the Coyotes in this series matchup scoring a goal and assist with a plus-3 rating.