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Arizona Coyotes look for their second win against a Central Division opponent

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The Coyotes' road trip continues as they travel to Chicago to face off against the Blackhawks.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight marks the Coyotes first game this season against the team they eliminated from the playoffs 3 seasons ago: the Chicago Blackhawks. They will attempt to get their first win on would could turn into a very long road trip.

Matchup at a Glance


Chicago Blackhawks

Arizona Coyotes

Points

58 (3rd Central)

37 (6th Pacific)

Goals Per Game

2.98 (8th)

2.24 (26th)

Goals Against Per Game

2.31 (2nd)

3.27 (27th)

Power Play Percentage

18.5% (16th)

21.8% (7th)

Penalty Kill Percentage

88.0% (1st)

75.8% (26th)

5 on 5 Fenwick For Percentage *

53.8% (4th)

48.2% (22nd)

PDO *

100.5% (11th)

97.3% (28th)

*Stats courtesy of war-on-ice.com

View from Arizona

This season the Coyotes have been bad, and especially bad against teams from the Central Division.  The Coyotes have only managed one win against a team from the Central Division: their January 8th win against the Winnipeg Jets.  That game also was the Coyotes last win.  Clearly the Coyotes are closer to winning the McDavid lottery then they are to making it to the playoffs/

Versus Winnipeg, Arizona did manage to come back from a 3-1 deficit and take the game to the shootout.  There were many positives during that game; Mike Smith looked better and made some great saves, the team was able to overcome a deficit, the penalty kill was perfect, and the team had a power play goal.  If the Yotes can continue to build off those successful elements of their game they have potential to win tonight's game.

View from Chicago

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The Blackhawks haven't looked especially great this month.  They are currently tied with the Winnipeg Jets for third in the Central, thanks in part to being 5-5-0 in their past 10.  This month they suffered some big loses against some not great teams: a 6-3 loss to the Dallas Stars, a 2-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, and a 5-2 loss to the lowly Edmonton Oilers.  Chicago seems to be trying to take a play out of Los Angeles playbook by not caring about the regular season and hoping to dominate in the postseason.

Although Chicago hasn't looked great they still have plenty of offensive weapons and should not be taken lightly.  The Blackhawks have 4 players with more points than any Coyotes player: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Brandon Saad.  Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are still some of the best defenseman in the league with 26 and 24 points respectively, basically giving them two versions of Keith Yandle.

Keys to the Game

Special teams. The Coyotes had a perfect penalty kill and a power play goal in their last game, and they got closer to a win then they had since their last win where they had three power play goals and a perfect penalty kill. Good special teams win games.

Goaltending. Mike Smith hasn't looked great this season, but he has looked better in the past few games. Can he keep the momentum going against a potent offensive team like Chicago?

Score first. The Coyotes scored first in four of their last five wins, and the one where they didn't they ended up tying the game less than a minute and a half later.  Good things definitely happen when the Coyotes score first.

Who's Hot

Antoine Vermette is increasing his trade value proving how much the team needs him with an assist on the game tying goal in the third period and the lone goal against the Minnesota Wild.

Brandon Saad has been hot these past few games with five goals and an assist in the past four games including Chicago's only goals against the Edmonton Oilers.  He is fourth on the team in points behind stars like Kane, Toews, and Hossa.

Injury Report

Mikkel Boedker is week to week with an upper body injury and has been placed on the injured reserve list.  Zbynek Michalek missed the Winnipeg game but he could play against Chicago.  Brandon Gormley has been on the injured reserve list for a while but could be activated for tonight's game.

Trevor Van Riemsdyk and Kris Versteeg are going to miss the game with a left patella fracture and left hand injury respectively.  Daniel Carcillo is going to be serving the first of a six game suspension for cross-checking Mathieu Perreault after the whistle.

Puck Drop

Tonight's game will be airing on Fox Sports Arizona at 6:30pm Arizona time and broadcast on the radio at AZ Sports 98.7 FM.