November 29, 2011 Leave a comment
Returning to the United Center ice for the first time in 16 days, the Blackhawks are looking for their third straight win taking on the Phoenix Coyotes tonight at 7:30. After going 3-3 on their annual circus trip, fans and analysts know the same about the team now add they did before the trip, which is very little at all.
In victories over Vancouver and Los Angeles they looked like the deadliest team in the NHL controlling the puck most of the game and rolling all four lines. In embarassing defeats to Calgary and Edmonton though, the Hawks failed to show up and got completely run over. While this Jekyll and Hyde act is nothing new for the Hawks, it is frustrating for fans and players alike to go through these periods.
If there are any positives you can take away from it though it’s that this Hawks team snaps out of its funks quickly and thus far has been able to reel off several wins after a losing streak.
You never want to call a game critical, but a win tonight will go a long way in restoring the faith of Blackhawks nation. The next 10 of 14 games for the Hawks are on United Center ice in which they hold a 7-1-2 record. The strong play at home and the sense of urgency the Hawks ought to play with in their United Center return will make it difficult for Phoenix to pull out a win.
While the Coyotes are a talented group, they have struggled to find success this year. With talk of long time captain Shane Doan as potential trade bait, the Coyotes are a team in need of an urgent spark to turn their ship around. The Hawks have a tendency to play down to their opponents playing level instead of coming out and forcing the other team to play their style of hockey against weaker teams. However, the Hawks have historically done well against Phoenix and will look to build upon their past success.
However, it remains to be seen which Hawks team will show up tinight, making this evenings matchup that much more critical in building momentum
Injury Report: After missing a few players throughout the circus trip, the Blackhawks do not have any injuries to report. The Coyotes will be without Defenseman Michael Rosival who is out with an upper body injury.
Players to Watch: Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa are expected to be reunited on the second line where they found much success earlier this season.
Prediction: Blackhawks 3 – Coyotes 2