Blackhawks face Coyotes again

Is it groundhog’s day? Sure feels like it. Didn’t we just see these Phoenix Coyotes? Yes indeed the Blackhawks did just see the Yotes and without much success in their last encounter. It was less than a week ago when they fell 4-1 at the United Center in their first game back from the circus trip. In their first meeting in Phoenix the Hawks handled the Coyotes pretty well beating them 5-2 lets hope Monday’s game has these results.

The Phoenix Coyotes (13-9-3) come into Chicago after sustaining two straight losses to the Winnepeg Jets and Philadelphia Flyers. They will be looking to right the ship when they visit the Madhouse on Madison. The Blackhawks (16-8-3) are coming in off of two wins against the NY Islanders and a grueling divisional game against the St. Louis Blues. Chicago is looking to keep the hot roll going against a western conference opponent.

The Blackhawks have been struggling with consistency so far this year. They will need to remain patient and not push bad positions or give up odd man rushes against a stingy Coyotes team in the neutral zone. The Phoenix Coyotes have the fewest penalty minutes in the entire league so power-play chances will be few and far between which maybe irrelevant as they are also very good on the PK.

Keys to look for:

How the Blackhawks play in their own zone. This was their downfall in their last encounter so hopefully there will not be a repeat of this. It will be imperative that everyone tighten things up in their own zone. Look out for Ray Whitney, Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan who are the Coyotes leading point grabbers.

Phoenix is a good road team. They are not an offensive juggernaut but they can put just enough points on the board and play a tight checking game to frustrate their opponents. 

The Hawks need to dictate play and get as many shots on goal as they can. If Mike Smith is in net for the Coyotes, the Hawks will just need to keep firing away. He is ranked 6th in the NHL with a .932 SV%. In their first meeting they had a significant SOG advantage which they did not in their loss.

They need to stick with the Coyotes in 5-5 situations and wait for them to make a mistake. Phoenix has a very good even strength differential but are not good with the man advantage. They are ranked 29th in the league on the power-play.

Look for Marion Hossa, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp who have been heating it up recently in the offensive zones to once again play a significant role.

Catch the game televised on Versus, WGN radio 720 at 7pm Central

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