Game #11- Chicago Blackhawks(8-0-2, 18 points) Vs. Phoenix Coyotes(4-4-2, 10 points)
Game time- 8:00 PM Central Time
Radio- WGN 720 AM
Season Series- 1/20/13, CHI 6 PHX 4
Preview- The Chicago Blackhawks look to continue their succesful road trip, as well as their obnoxiously succesful early season, as they head to the desert to take on the Phoenix Coyotes. This is the second meeting of the season between the two teams, the Blackhawks won the first meeting on January 20th, which as also in Phoenix, by a score of 6-4. Tonight however, adds another wrinkle of interest as it will be the first time the Blackhawks are facing Raffi Torres since his well-documented hit that ended with Marian Hossa leaving the game on a stretcher, during the first round of last year’s Western Conference playoffs.
The Coyotes should be well-rested, having been off since Monday, and finally starting to carry some momentum with them as they have won two games in a row, after having an up and down start to the season. Phoenix is lead by long-time veteran and captain, Shane Doan, who is off to a bit a slow start this season, but always makes his presence known. The Coyotes’ leading scorer thus far this season is former Hawk, Radim Vrbata, who is coming off of his best offensive season of his career last season. Young defenseman, Oliver Ekman-Larsson continues to impress and put up good offensive numbers from the blueline.
The Coyotes’ success is largely dependent on goaltender Mike Smith, who the Hawks got the best of in their 6-4 victory in the second game of the season. Smith was off to a rough start to the season, and even missed a bit of time due to injury. Since coming back from injury, Smith has started to play like the Mike Smith of old.
The Blackhawks continue their 6-game road trip, and will look to continue their wildly successful start to the season tonight. This will be the 5th game of the 6-game road trip, in which the Hawks are 2-0-2, good for 6 points. Brandon Saad has played extremely well for the Hawks on the top line along with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Saad scored his first career NHL goal in the last game against San Jose, let’s see if he can get in an offensive groove and start putting up points on a regular-basis. Patrick Kane continues to pile up points this season, after a 2 goal night in San Jose on Tuesday.
Ray Emery will be getting the start in net tonight in relief of Corey Crawford, for the Blackhawks. Emery faced the Coyotes in the only other meeting between the two teams this season. In that game Emery looked shaky, but still ended up securing the win. In Emery’s most recent start, against the Calgary Flames, he showed no shakiness at all, instead turning in a career-best 45 save performance against the Flames.
The Blackhawks would be wise not to get caught up in the hoopla over the return of Raffi Torres. If the Hawks play smart, and stick to their game(a little help from the powerplay wouldn’t hurt either) they should be able to get two points.