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Coyotes Game 77 Preview: Coyotes look to end losing streak tonight against Blackhawks

The Arizona Coyotes host the Chicago Blackhawks for the final time this season.

Arizona Coyotes v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Game Preview

The Arizona Coyotes have one win during the month of April, a 3-2 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. We will get a rematch of that tonight in what may be the last winnable game the Coyotes will play this season.

Arizona dropped another game this week, falling 5-3 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday. Arizona may have dropped another game and gave up another three goals in the second period, but they showed plenty of fight in their failed comeback.

The Coyotes are dealing with a lot right now, but the regular season is ending, and everyone has some reason to play. It doesn’t matter if they are playing for pride, their next contract, or their spot on next season’s roster, which hopefully will be enough to keep everyone engaged.

We have seen glimpses of that these past few games despite the losses. Recent additions Jack McBain and Nathan Smith have both notched their first assists, while Loui Eriksson and Alex Galchenyuk scored against the Hurricanes.

Chicago’s April hasn’t gone much better than the Coyotes. Of course, their month wasn’t as bad as the Coyotes,’ but they have only one win this month, a shootout win over the San Jose Sharks.

The Blackhawks have a lot of weaknesses this season, and they got worse at the trade deadline. After shipping out Marc-André Fleury, the Blackhawks are utilizing Kevin Lankinen and Collin Delia in net. Both players combined have played fewer games than Karel Vejmelka this season, and neither has stood out as a future successor.

Unfortunately for the Coyotes, the Blackhawks still have their top scorers. Chicago still has three 20+ goal scorers, Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, and Dylan Strome. Things start to drop off after those three, but that is still a dangerous trio that the Coyotes will need to watch.

If the Chicago Blackhawks were in a position to be chasing a playoff spot, it would be hard to come up with a better end of the season for them. Not only will they play the league-worst Coyotes, but they also will play the San Jose Sharks, Philadelphia Flyers, and Buffalo Sabres. But the Blackhawks did get shut out by the Seattle Kraken after facing the Coyotes earlier this month, so don’t expect the schedule to do them too many favors.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Nick Ritchie - Ritchie has a two-game goal streak coming into tonight’s game, and he has proven to be a vital piece of the Coyotes’ offense moving forward. With 12 goals across the Coyotes and Toronto Maple Leafs, Ritchie is only three goals away from matching his career-high goals with the Boston Bruins in 2020-21.

Chicago: Dylan Strome - Strome has three points in his last three games, and he hit the 20-goal plateau the last time the Coyotes and Blackhawks faced off. Former Coyotes have haunted the team all season, but few have had the same impact as Dylan Strome.

Injuries

Arizona: Clayton Keller (leg), Lawson Crouse (hand), Christian Fischer (lower body), Jakob Chychrun (ankle), Antoine Roussel (lower body), Liam O’Brien (upper body), Dmitrij Jaškin (lower body), Conor Timmins (knee)

Chicago: Mackenzie Entwistle (should), Kirby Dach (shoulder), Connor Murphy (concussion), Andrew Shaw (concussion), Jujhar Khaira (back)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be at Gila River Arena with a 7:00 pm start time. It will air on Bally Sports Arizona Extra and 98.7 FM.