Coming off of a bad, bad loss to the Minnesota Wild, the Arizona Coyotes will get back at it tonight as they begin a three-game mini road trip, with the first stop being in Chicago against the Blackhawks.
The Coyotes going into this game are 1-11-1 on the season and rank last in goals per game, shots on goal per game, shooting percentage, goals allowed per game, penalty kill percentage, and penalty minutes per game. Yeah, not ideal at all. In addition to that, they rank 31st in the NHL on the powerplay. They’ll hope to get at least one of those on track coming into this game, and with their opponent being another league bottomfeeder, it could be an opportunity to do it.
The Blackhawks are 3-9-2 on the season, but not all is bad for them, as they’re currently riding a two-game winning streak with hopes of extending it to three. They don’t have much better going for them, as they rank 30th in goals per game, 29th in shots on goal per game, 29th in shooting percentage, and 29th in goals allowed per game. However, they are an excellent penalty-killing team, which isn’t ideal for a team like the Coyotes, who possess one of the worst special team units in the NHL.
In net, I would expect Scott Wedgewood to get the look after a solid effort in relief of Karel Vejmelka in the third period of the last game, where he saved all eight shots that came his way and recorded a 0.60 goals saved above expected. Carter Hutton is also traveling with the team on the road trip, so he could be an option along the way, but likely not tonight.
In net for the Blackhawks tonight, expect to see Marc-André Fleury. The Quebec native is basically a write-on for the Hockey Hall of Fame at this point, but he hasn’t played nearly up to those standards this season as he ranks among the bottom of the league. He is 2-7-0 with a .892 SV% and -6.47 GSAx, which ranks him third-worst analytically, behind Phillipp Grubauer, and Arizona’s own, Carter Hutton.
For the Blackhawks, their best players are the usuals. Patrick Kane leads the team in scoring with 13 points (5 goals, 8 assists) through ten games played, and Alex Debrincat leads in goals, with seven. Seth Jones has struggled in his own end, but his production has stayed steady, with 12 points (1 goal, 11 assists) through 14 games played. He may not be skilled enough to be deployed as a number-one defenseman, but his offensive threat is something to watch out for, especially on the power play.
For the Coyotes, Lawson Crouse will help build off the momentum he showcased near the end of the last game and look to be a valuable physical presence for the forward core. He currently has six points (4 goals, 2 assists) through 13 games played while averaging 17:48 per game, leading all Coyotes’ forwards in scoring and trailing just Shayne Gostisbehere by five for the team lead.
The Coyotes will need more from Phil Kessel in this one after he was practically a non-factor against the Wild. However, it should be much easier for him to make plays against a weaker defensive-structured Blackhawks team.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Jay Beagle - While I named the likes of Crouse and Kessel earlier, in my opinion, a sneaky player to watch on the Coyotes tonight is Jay Beagle. He has no points through 13 games played on the season, but he played pretty well against Minnesota and looked like he might’ve gotten a point at some points during the game. We’ll see if that translates over to tonight.
Chicago: Marc-André Fleury - As mentioned earlier, Fleury has been bad this year, like really bad. However, we know he has his moments where he can make a spectacular save or play lights-out, and with Arizona’s luck, that’ll be against them, so watch out for him.
Arizona: Carter Hutton (IR - Lower-Body), Alex Galchenyuk (IR - Lower-Body), Ryan Dzingel (IR - Upper-Body), Nick Schmaltz (IR - Upper-Body), Conor Timmins (IR - Knee)
Chicago: Caleb Jones (LTIR - Wrist), MacKenzie Entwistle (LTIR - Ankle), Brandon Hagel (OUT - Shoulder)
The game will be at the United Center at 6:30 PM on ESPN+, Hulu, and 620 AM.