The Blackhawks have won their last two games against the Bruins and Devils, although they had to take both teams to overtime to do so. Still, getting four-of-four possible points on the Mom’s trip could be an important step for the Blackhawks, who have needed a turnaround and are back to .500 on the season.
Chicago (12-12-5) had lost three games in a row, in embarrassing fashion against Central Division opponents, before this recent two-game winning streak, so any sort of uptick is a noticeable improvement. The Coyotes (17-10-4) enter this game not the hottest nor the coldest team, but maintaining their placement near the top of the Pacific division, 5-3-2 in their last 10 games.
And the Coyotes are a team full of former Blackhawks, just as the Blackhawks are a team full of former Coyotes. Niklas Hjalmarsson has been put on long-term injured reserve after blocking a shot (of course) but Chicago will welcome back alumni in Vinnie Hinostroza (four goals and 10 points this season), Nick Schmaltz (five goals and a team-leading 20 points) and Jordan Oesterle (five assists). Current Hawks Dylan Strome and Connor Murphy will face the team that drafted them.
Dylan Sikura will make his first appearance for the Blackhawks this season after being recalled from the AHL Sunday morning. Anton Wedin was re-assigned to the Rockford IceHogs in a corresponding roster move. Sikura played 33 games last season with Chicago and picked up eight assists. He will slot into Wedin’s spot on the third line with David Kampf and Dominik Kubalik.
Robin Lehner will take the net after Corey Crawford’s masterful performance against the Devils (allowing just one goal on 30 shots). Both goaltenders seem to have gotten back on track after the lopsided games against the Avalanche and Blues.
The bad news is, the Coyotes have, if anything, as good of a goaltending tandem as the Blackhawks do with Antii Raanta (.926 save-percentage) and Darcy Kuemper (.937 save-percentage). Kuemper will get the start for Arizona and is giving Crawford (and Lehner) a run for their money in the early Vezina race (although Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets has all of them beat so far).
This will be the first meeting of these two teams since March, when the Coyotes were without Schmaltz, which means this will be his first game against the Blackhawks since being traded. Also, Arizona has the league’s best defense, so that’s fun.
Tale of the Tape
Blackhawks — Statistic — Coyotes
48.3% (23rd) — Corsi For — 46.8% (29th)
48.9% (23rd) — Faceoffs — 48.5% (25th)
2.72 (22nd) — Goals per game — 2.61 (T-25th)
2.97 (14th) — Goals against per game — 2.26 (1st)
14.9% (T-26th) — Power play — 19.6% (11th)
80.4% (17th) — Penalty kill — 81.8% (14th)
Kubalik — Toews — Saad
DeBrincat — Strome — Kane
Nylander — Kampf — Sikura
Smith — Dach — Carpenter
Koekkoek — Murphy
de Haan — Seabrook
Gilbert — Gustafsson
Keller — Stepan — Hinostroza
Dvorak — Schmaltz — Fischer
Crouse — Soderberg — Kessel
Grabner — Richardson — Garland
Ekman-Larsson — Demers
Chychrun — Goligoski
Oesterle — Lyubushkin
How to watch
When: 6 p.m.
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC Sports
Live stream: NBC Sports app, ESPN+