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Two Feet Off The Ground: Blackhawks @ Coyotes - Preview/Pre-Game Thread/Flea Circus

Images_medium @ Spacecoyote_medium

Game Time: 7:00 PM
TV/Radio: WGNx2
You Know That Band, Phoenix... They Suck. Just Sayin': Five For Howling

A Sunday game that doesn't start at some ungodly hour, what a wonderful idea. It seems over and over again we mention that the upcoming game is the biggest of the year and it's going to be true again tonight. The Yotes currently sit in 4th place in the lonesome crowded west, 5 points ahead of the Hawks but with two extra games played. They're getting red hot at exactly the right time, winning their last 5 and 13 points in the last 7 games overall. A common theme in those 7 games has been captain Shane Doan's name on the score sheet with 10 points overall. Lee Stempniak, Radim Vrbata and Eric Belanger also all hold point streaks of their own as well but perhaps the biggest reason for the dog's success has been the outstanding play of Ilya Bryzgalov. He's won his last four in a row, posting one shutout against Calgary and a 1.50 GAA and a .975 Sv%. Bryz is another one of those goalies who is more than capable of winning a game on his own and has had good success against the Hawks this year despite only racking up one win. Bryz is also coming off some rest as it was Jason LaBarbera who helped the Yotes win over the Nucks on Friday (A backup getting a start.. another wonderful idea.) The Yotes lost a bit of their grit when they traded Scottie Upshall to the BJs but they've still got decent size and with Brian Campbell still out for the Hawks I'm sure we'll see them bring an aggressive forecheck. The Yotes have lacked disciple lately though, taking 25 penalties in the last four games and hold onto the 5th worst penalty kill in the league. If the Yotes do come out hitting, and there's no reason to think they won't as it's working pretty well against the Hawks lately, the Hawks will need to keep calm and remember they do somehow have the second best power play in the league. Keith Yandle continues to lead the Coyotes in scoring with 57 points and has two points against the Hawks this year and a +3 rating. Oh, it's also Adrian Aucoin's 1000th career game... so good for him I guess. I have no use for him..

For the Hawks - they've had 2+ days to stew on their pathetic disgusting loss to the Stars and should have every reason to come out firing on all cylinders. Whether they actually follow through with that though remains to be seen. They've had far too many opportunities to learn from their mistakes and yet they keep coming out flat and allowing the opposing teams to dictate the game. The shutout on Thursday was first time the Hawks were held without a goal since early December. We know there will be at least one change to the line up as winger Ben Smith was called up yesterday. Smith suffered a concussion and missed some time in Rockford. He's been heating up nicely the past few games though with 7 goals in 10 games. No word yet on if this means Bryan Bickell is still out but I would assume so. Dave Bolland and Brian Campbell will be missing from the line up making things harder for the Hawks. There was no morning skate today so we'll just have to wait to see what the lines will be like but don't expect any drastic changes. The Hawks need to redeem themselves for Thursday's loss and while I'd like to say nothing short of DLR appearance is acceptable, I don't have the confidence to think it'll happen. The Hawks are once again in danger of falling out of the top 8 so two points is an absolute must.. and not in OT either.

Lets Go Hawks