Just 26 hours after their first game of the 2013 NHL season, the Phoenix Coyotes head home to Glendale to unveil the Pacific Division Championship banner and face the Chicago Blackhawks.
Fans got their first glimpse of the 2013 Coyotes on Saturday night as they faced off against the Dallas Stars in Dallas. The Coyotes came up short, losing 4-3. Chicago also opened up on the road and faced the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Los Angeles Kings. The Blackhawks stormed out of the starting gate, scoring the first four goals of the game en route to a 5-2 victory.
This is the first of three meetings between the Coyotes (0-1-0) and Blackhawks (1-0-0). They faced each other 10 times last season, four in the regular season and six in the postseason. The Coyotes won seven of those 10 meetings.
Coyotes fans will be treated to a re-match of last season's Western Conference Quarter Finals match up. The last meeting took place on April 23, and the Coyotes won that game 4-0 to advance to the conference semi-finals.
Five For Winning
1. Finish finish finish. No, I don't mean the language. If there was one set of games that showed off the importance of playing a full 60 minutes it was the first five games of the playoffs against Chicago. Time and time again the Coyotes blew one-goal leads in the final 90 seconds of the game.
2. Discipline. This game is a revenge game of sorts for the Blackhawks. After Raffi Torres injured Maria Hossa and the fact that they were eliminated by the Coyotes in the first round, Chicago may be more aggressive than usual. Therefore, the Coyotes have to maintain composure and not retaliate and take unnecessary penalties. The Coyotes gave up two power play goals on four attempts against Dallas in the first game of the season.
3. Slow the game down. With the addition of Matt Lombardi coupled with the speed of Lauri Korpikosi and Mikkel Boedker, it is very tempting to play rush hockey with the Blackhawks. Don't. The Coyotes know they can beat the Blackhawks by slowing down the game and playing "Coyotes hockey." Don't allow Chicago to dictate the style of the game.
4. Take advantage of the discrepancy in net. Goaltending is the one area the Coyotes are significantly better at than the Blackhawks. Mike Smith stole the show in the playoffs against them and will need to do so once again for the Coyotes to even-up their record.
5. When in doubt, get it out. This is a key for all games but especially after last night's game in Dallas. Make the safe play out of the defensive zone and avoid making the critical error in your own end.
Players To Watch
Boedker's coming out party took place in games three and four of the first round series against Chicago. He scored the game winning over time goals in both those games to give the Coyotes a 2-1 then 3-1 series lead. Boedker showed flashes of success against Dallas but was kept off the score sheet.
Hossa is tied for the most goals (2) and tied for the third most points (3) in the NHL after the first slate of games. After a strong game against the Kings, Hossa may look to get a little revenge of his own against the Coyotes by adding to his point totals.
Projected Starting Goalies
Ray Emery will get the start in net for Chicago not Corey Crawford. Emery played three games (starting once) against the Coyotes last season going 0-1-1 with a 1.52 GAA and a save percentage of .927.
Smith will start back-to-back games for the Coyotes and looks to carry over his post-season dominance against the Blackhawks to the home opener. Smith allowed four goals on 26 shots against the Stars on Saturday.
Projected Line Combos & Defensive Pairings
Raffi Torres (suspension) is out.
Daniel Carcillo (leg) is out.
For more information on the Chicago Blackhawks visit SB Nations' Blackhawks site Second City Hockey.