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Coyotes Game 32 Preview: Coyotes host the Blackhawks for the first time this season

The Arizona Coyotes look to turn things around against the Chicago Blackhawks.

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Chicago Blackhawks David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview

The Arizona Coyotes homestand continues as they host another Central Division rival tonight. The Coyotes have already played the Chicago Blackhawks once this season, where we saw former Coyote Dylan Strome score the game-winner to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 victory.

A hectic schedule has made it impossible to know what Coyotes team will show up. They scored five goals against the Anaheim Ducks and seven against the San Jose Sharks but were limited to just one in their last game against the Winnipeg Jets.

Before their last game, the Coyotes had gone a week since playing after seeing games delayed due to COVID-19. The Desert Dogs were definitely tighter against the Jets than they were against the Sharks, but that didn’t lead to a better outcome.

The Coyotes’ last match was a rough one that saw the Jets control much of the game’s pace. Winnipeg outshot the Coyotes from start to finish, and while the Coyotes were able to limit some of the shots to the outside, the Jets still had plenty of Grade A chances.

If the Coyotes want to improve their chances of winning, they can start by taking fewer penalties. The Jets had four power plays in the Yotes’ last game, and Pierre-Luc Dubois scored the game-winner on their second one. And even if they don’t let their opponents score, the Coyotes’ penchant for penalties still kills any momentum they may have been building.

The Blackhawks’ recent schedule has been relatively unaffected compared to the Coyotes. They have played their last three games, but before that, their previous four games were delayed due to COVID-19.

But the Blackhawks maybe wish those games had been delayed because they dropped all three. Chicago had a decent showing against the Colorado Avalanche, falling 4-3 in overtime, but they lost 5-1 to the Calgary Flames and 6-1 to the Nashville Predators before that. The loss to the Avalanche did feature a “Goal of the Year” candidate from Cale Makar, which is worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.

Somewhat surprisingly, a big problem for the Chicago Blackhawks this season has been an inconsistent offense. The Blackhawks were held to two goals in three of their last four games and have only one player who has hit the ten-goal mark so far this season. That player is Alex DeBrincat though, and he already has 20 goals so far.

But the Blackhawks on a losing streak may make them more dangerous. Tonight’s game could very well turn into a trap game, one that sees an embarrassed Blackhawks simplify their game and surprise the Coyotes with a strong push.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Shayne Gostisbehere - Gostisbehere had the Coyotes’ lone goal in their last game when he intercepted a pass and took it to the net. Gostisbehere is tied for second on the team in points and is a major contributor to the Coyotes’ offense.

Chicago: Alex DeBrincat - DeBrincat had a goal the last time these two teams met, and as previously mentioned, he already has 20 goals this season. He had two goals in his previous game and three in his last two games.

Injuries

Arizona: Jay Beagle (lower body), Jakob Chychrun (upper body), Ryan Dzingel (upper body), Dmitrij Jaškin (lower body), Carter Hutton (lower body), Conor Timmins (knee)

Chicago: Kevin Lankinen (COVID-19 protocol), Reese Johnson (shoulder), Tyler Johnson (neck)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be at Gila River Arena with puck drop at 7:00 pm Arizona time. It will air on Bally Sports Arizona+ and 620 AM.