Blackhawks News

Well Rested Chicago Blackhawks Ready to Host the Surging Phoenix Coyotes

By Brian Kinkade

Apr 20, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (41) makes a save against Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) during the shoot out at the United Center. The Phoenix Coyotes beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in the shoot out. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

After not having played any games since playing on back-to-back nights, on Saturday and Sunday, the Chicago Blackhawks return to game action, tonight, a Phoenix Coyotes team, that is playing very well, this season.

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Both teams are pretty comparable to each other in just about every area listed, except for Corsi For percentage, which likely gives the Blackhawks an edge, in tonight’s matchup.  You could almost guarantee there will be at least one Power Play goal, tonight.

The Coyotes have played very well, so far this season, after a disappointing 2013 season, where they missed the playoffs.  However, taking a look at their Corsi For percentage, it will tell you that their hot start, is not sustainable, throughout an entire season unless they shore up some other areas of their game.  Phoenix has been scoring a lot of goals, this season, which is usually not what this team is known for.  They have also struggled on the Penalty Kill, this season, which is another un-Coyote like trend, so far, this season.  If they can shore up their woes on the PK, without sacrificing their potent offense, then this will be a team to watch, come playoff time.

Phoenix appears to be eager to put last season’s disappointment, deep in the past, and they are exceeding most people’s expectations, thus far.  Part of the reason many people didn’t expect the Coyotes to be playing this well is because superstar defenseman, Oliver Ekman-Larsson does not get the credit, nor the recognition that he deserves.  He is one of the top young defenseman, in the entire NHL.  The Coyotes are lead by long-time captain, Shane Doanwho is off to a good start, this season, as well.  In net for the Coyotes, will likely be Mike Smithwho is not exactly a fan favorite, in Chicago, due to events that transpired during the 2012 playoffs.  Smith is a more than capable goaltender, and he has thrived, in his time in the desert.

The Blackhawks have been scoring goals, and controlling the puck at an alarming pace, thanks to their great team depth.  While their Goals Against Average could stand to improve, their Penalty Kill has been much better as of late.  The Hawks can light the lamp as good as any team in the NHL, due to their ability to feast on opponent’s mistakes, and turning them into quality puck possession (as evidenced by their league leading Corsi For percentage) and eventually goals.

The Hawks can got toe-to-toe with any team in the league, in a high-scoring game, and they will likely come out on top, due to world class offense, on their top two lines, as well as quality offense, from their lower two lines.  Patrick KaneJonathan Toews, Patrick Sharpand Marian Hossa are leading the way offensively, with defenseman Duncan Keith also getting in on quite a bit of offensive action, this season.  The emergence of Brandon Saad as a legitimate top six forward this season has payed huge dividends, to the defending Stanley Cup Champions, this season.  In net, tonight, for the Hawks figures to be Corey Crawfordwho has played in all, but 2 games this season.

Phoenix, like every other team that wants to elevate themselves to the legitimate contender ranks, this season, will face no better litmus test, than facing the Blackhawks, in Chicago.  Both teams are within walking distance of their respective division’s 1st place ranking, so this should be a good test, for both teams.  It should be a good game!