Chicago Blackhawks-Arizona Coyotes Preview, Prediction And More

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 02: Clayton Keller
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 02: Clayton Keller /

In another winnable game for the Chicago Blackhawks, the Arizona Coyotes will come to town for the second meeting between these teams this season

Even though Niklas Hjalmarsson won’t be playing, tonight’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes still holds importance to the Blackhawks.

Chicago was on a five-game losing streak entering Friday’s tilt with lowly Buffalo. Though it took overtime to come out with the win, two points is two points, and the Blackhawks need all of those they can get.

Enter another bad team in Arizona, which isn’t in last in the NHL because of Buffalo. The Coyotes and Blackhawks square off tonight for the second time this season, with the Blackhawks capturing an uninspiring 4-2 win in mid-October back when the Coyotes were on that impressive season-opening skid.

The Blackhawks look to turn to the same lineup as they did against the Sabres, with one exception. Cody Franson suffered an injury against one of his former teams, meaning Jordan Oesterle gets a chance to slide in. It’s not Michal Kempny because he shoots left-handed, and the Blackhawks feel they’re set in that regard with Duncan Keith, Gustav Forsling and off-side Connor Murphy. Ouch.

But this also means Corey Crawford is in net again, and that Vinnie Hinostroza slots in for Ryan Hartman, who could be in some hot water after having a severe lapse in judgment while liking a tweet suggesting Richard Panik (Panic) shouldn’t be part of the Blackhawks. Though he told Second City Hockey it was a mistake. All right then.

Team lineups

Anyway, back to matters on the ice. Let’s look at some prospective line combos, starting with the Blackhawks.

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Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsAlex DeBrincat

Nick SchmaltzArtem AnisimovPatrick Kane

Patrick Sharp-Vinnie Hinostroza-Richard Panik

Lance BoumaTommy WingelsJohn Hayden

Duncan Keith-Jordan Oesterle

Connor Murphy-Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling-Jan Rutta

Corey Crawford-Anton Forsberg

I think this is the first one of these previews I’ve done where DeBrincat is appropriately positioned in the lineup. Later is better than never, I suppose. But those top two lines will obviously do much of the heavy lifting, scoring-wise, while the fourth line will continue to HITS and Hinostroza will try to drag around Sharp and Panik.

I’m not sure if Oesterle will actually play with Keith, but it’s probably the best way to babysit a guy who has hardly played this season. The last time Oesterle suited up Nov. 12, and his other three games played before that were all in October.

Now on to the Coyotes.

Clayton KellerDerek StepanTobias Rieder

Max DomiChristian DvorakChristian Fischer

Brendan PerliniDylan StromeAnthony Duclair

Jordan MartinookBrad RichardsonZac Rinaldo

Oliver Ekman-LarssonJason Demers

Jakob ChychrunAlex Goligoski

Kyle CapobiancoLuke Schenn

Scott WedgewoodAntti Raanta

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I have no idea what a Scott Wedgewood is, but I’m sure it’ll make the Blackhawks look foolish. Chicago has an ugly penchant for making no-name goalies look like Vezina candidates (see Montreal’s Charlie Lindgren). Wedgewood should see plenty of traffic, as Arizona not only has the league’s fourth-worst Corsi-for percentage at 5-on-5, but also played last night.

There are some good pieces here, despite the seven-win record. Keller, Duclair and Fischer have shown promise, while guys like Dvorak and Strome are expected to. Ekman-Larsson is still the best part of this team, and Demers isn’t useless.

But having Stepan and Rieder on your top line just isn’t good, the defense is extremely suspect beyond the top pair, and the fourth line is even more likely to try and mug someone on the ice than the Blackhawks’ fourth line is.

Viewing info and prediction

Puck drop: 6 p.m.

Location: United Center, Chicago


Radio: WGN 720-AM

Online radio stream: WGN Radio App

Prediction: Blackhawks win 6-1. I think the Blackhawks are going to do exactly what they should’ve done to Buffalo on Friday. The top two lines will go crazy, and Crow won’t have to do too much while the fourth lines stage a brawl with five minutes left. I’ll give the Chicago goals tonight to Schmaltz (two), Kane, Toews, Sharp and Hayden.

Next: Blackhawks' Past Success Has Brought About Demise

If you can’t watch or listen to the game, feel free to follow along on Twitter with @Blackhawk_Up, as we live-tweet all the events before, during and after this contest. Then check back in here for five thoughts on the result.