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GDT Game 54: Coyotes look to reset and get back to their winning ways

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The Arizona Coyotes are still searching for their first win after coming back from the All-Star Break.

Chicago Blackhawks v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Game Preview

Over halfway through the season, the Arizona Coyotes are in a bit of a slump. Their last two games were against teams at the bottom of the Conference, and they only earned one point. The Coyotes are still in the race, but they need a reset in the worst way.

The Coyotes squandered a chance to move up in the tight Pacific Division. They managed only four goals in their last two games, which isn’t enough in the NHL. Arizona’s offense has been inconsistent throughout the season and seems to have mostly disappeared late in the season.

At this point, the Coyotes are four points out of first place in the Pacific Division and are currently fifth in the Pacific Division having been overtaken by the Vegas Golden Knights. They still are very much in the race, but they need to end the current slump and not end up in another one this season.

After struggling last season, the Chicago Blackhawks are doing better this season. They are still near the bottom of the Central Division, but they are only four points out of a Wild Card spot.

This past offseason the Blackhawks made a big acquisition in goaltender Robin Lehner. After a stellar season with the New York Islanders, he has been a piece of a tandem with Corey Crawford. His 2.86 goals-against average this season is up from last season, but he has a solid .922 save percentage.

Tonight’s game will be the Blackhawk’s first game back after their All-Star Break. They lost their last game before the break, which ended a five-game win streak. Their opponents during that streak weren’t exactly the top-tier teams in the league, but they did beat the Winnipeg Jets, a division rival who they are in a playoff race with.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Nick Schmaltz - Schmaltz scored his first goal of 2020 and has three points in his last two games. Before that Schmaltz had gone seven games without a point, and the Coyotes are going to need him to be better.

Chicago: Erik Gustafsson - Gustafsson had two assists in the Blackhawks’ last game, and he has five points in his last three games. Last season he had a career-high 17 goals and 43 assists, although he doesn’t seem likely to reach that again.

Injuries

Arizona: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (questionable, lower body), Barrett Hayton (shoulder), Darcy Kuemper (lower body), Brad Richardson (questionable, lower body)

Chicago: Dylan Strome (questionable, ankle), Brent Seabrook (shoulder), Calvin de Haan (shoulder), Andrew Shaw (concussion)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be in Arizona at 6:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Fox Sports Arizona and Fox Sports 910 AM.