Feb 7, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Phoenix Coyotes goalieMike Smith
(41) makes the save on Chicago Blackhawks centerJonathan Toews
(19) during the second period at Jobing.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Blackhawks have a little bit of a rivalry with the Phoenix Coyotes that cooled down some last season. The Blackhawks won 2 out of 3 games against the Yotes last season scoring 5 goals in each of the wins and being shut out in the final matchup. The Coyotes didn’t qualify for the playoffs, falling 3 points short of the Dallas Stars to secure the second Wild Card seed in the Western Conference. Needless to say, most of the Coyotes’ rivals lost a little bit of interest in them because of last season. But there have been a few changes that may shake things up.
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The Coyotes’ biggest noticeable change over the summer was in their name. They are now the Arizona Coyotes with the same head coach, same captain, and same logo. The team never played in Phoenix anyway, so the name change makes sense since their arena is in Glendale, Arizona.
The Coyotes lost some offense in forwards Radim Vrbata, who will play for the Vancouver Canucks, and Mike Ribeiro. They are counting on their up-and-coming forwards to help fill the gaps, but the Yotes are also putting some pressure on newly acquired forward Sam Gagner from the Edmonton Oilers. Gagner is no stranger to Chicago, and Blackhawks fans will remember his 8 point night against their team in February of 2012.
They Coyotes are still relying heavily on goaltender Mike Smith to be their backbone. Smith missed 20 games last season and the team stumbled during that time, just barely missing the playoffs. Devan Dubnyk will start his first year in Arizona as Smith’s back up in net.
The Coyotes have had a busy preseason starting it off with a split squad game against the L.A. Kings which they split in a shootout win and a shootout loss. They also split 2 games against the Anaheim Ducks, lost to the Calgary Flames, but won against both against the San Jose Sharks and Canucks. They will face the Blackhawks three times in the upcoming season, twice in Chicago before taking it to Arizona.
Do you think their roster changes will spell more trouble for the Blackhawks? Let us know in the comments!