It hasn’t been easy. Any luster of the trades, the new additions and new coaching from the offseason have long since gone. The chances of doing something noticable went with it.
And now it’s about pride. It’s about showing up. Saturday night in Columbus, that just didn’t happen. Antti Raanta let in a soft goal a minute into the game and after that, it was a powerskating session from end to end.
Anthony Duclair had some chances. he didn’t score. Jakob Chychrun had some shots. They didn’t find home. Max Domi had some sick dekes. Those passes didn’t get onto a scoring stick.
The bottom line is that in the last 120 minutes of play, Arizona has had a ton of chances and 1 goal yet allowed seven.
In Boston, the defense just did not help Scott Wedgewood. In Columbus, the goaltending was there for 59 minutes, and the defense even held strong, but the offense skulked around center-ice.
Now comes Chicago, who in their own right, hasn’t been a force to be reckoned with yet it is still the Blackhawks. One cannot take playing at the United Center easily, especially after a leg day like the Blue Jackets gave them.
View From Chicago
Standing at 5th in the Central, Chicago still has passed the 30 pt mark at 31 and remain competitive in a tremendously difficult division to play hockey. The Hawks, for all their star power though have underwhelmed.
In the last half dozen, it took overtime to get the win or mercy in a shellacking to end the bloodshed. It’s easy to say the Hawks are not their old selves.
Richard Panik, who broke out last season, has shelled back up and Patrick Kane has gone cold as well.
Perhaps one bright spot of recent, and perhaps ironically to Coyotes fans, has been the uptick in play by Connor Murphy. After struggling to break into the system for Chicago, he’s now become their most physical defenseman and logging nearly 5 more minutes than his season average for time on ice in his last game played.
In his last 5 games, he has 3 points and is +4. Go figure.
View From Arizona
The 'Yotes can not catch a break with the scheduling. They have played 1⁄3 of the games so far on the road, and a massive majority of those in the Eastern Conference. It’s been such an asinine schedule that OTHER TEAMS are noticing, as Columbus’s TV team noted during the Saturday broadcast.
Between the schedule and constant injuries to key players, Arizona find defense, but can’t find scoring. Then they find defense and scoring, but the goaltending lays a ‘phat’ goose egg of a game.
At this point, a pride win is likely due and if someone of Chicago’s fourth line rubs anyone the wrong way Sunday, there will likely be a panic at the disco-err United Center.
Does Chicago’s offense wake up? Chicago stuggled to down the Buffalo Sabres, who are currently engaged in a tank battle with the Coyotes for the bottom of the league. If Chicago could barely muster enough offense to put down the Sabres late, can they outgun a Coyotes team with a objectively more offensively-talented defense?
Can Clayton Keller snap out of it? Have you ever seen a firetruck or a police car pull up to an emergency and there’s that one guy with a refelctive vest on that standing to the side watching. Like, he’s there but not doing anything? That’s Clayton Keller of recent; he’s been a ride-along. If Clayton can do something against Chicago, his scoring sprint may catch second wind, but if it can’t then maybe he’ll continue to just be a passenger on a desparate crew.
Defense, anyone? The crazy thing about these two teams is that both can’t put it together on defense, yet neither seem to know how to score yet either. The key to this game, assuming Arizona’s goaltending doesn’t miss the flight into O’Hare, is that whomever’s defense stands taller will prevail.
Players to Watch
Arizona F Anthony Duclair: Nobody, and I mean nobody, has circled the wagons like Anthony Duclair has. Since riding the press box seating earlier on in the season, Duclair has earned his spot back on the ice and even though he hasn’t scored in the last few, he’s been pushing. He’s been chasing down pucks, laying in hits and working to win battles. He’s due to finally be rewarded for busting his rear end.
Chicago D Connor Murphy: Sure, he used to play for Arizona but it will be important to see how Murphy, who as previously stated has finally warmed up to the Chicago system as of late, stands up against a Coyotes team he knows very well is built with speed. if he can out-muscle that speed and make smart passes, you can look for Murphy to get over 20 minutes assuming Quenneville doesn’t see something he doesn’t like.
Arizona: D Niklas Hjalmarsson (IR-Upper Body Injury)
Chicago: D Michal Rozsival (LTIR-Concussion), F Marian Hossa (LTIR-Skin Condition)
This game can be viewed in-market on Fox Sports Arizona at 7 p.m. AZ, on the Fox Sports Go app anywhere, and NHL.tv for out-of-market viewers. For viewers in the Chicagoland area, your TV experience will be on WGN starting at 6 p.m. local.
The radio call with 'Heeter and Biz' can be heard on ESPN-Phoenix 620AM.