The Arizona Coyotes visit the United Center in Chicago, Illinois on Thursday night, where they will face off against the Chicago Blackhawks. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm central time. The Coyotes are 1-4-0 on the season, having lost two in a row since their last win on October 10th against Anaheim. Since then, they have lost to the Sabres and, most recently, the Wild. Brendan Perlini opened the scoring for Arizona, with what proved to be the only goal for the Coyotes. Mikael Granlund and Eric Staal scored to win the game for Minnesota.
The Blackhawks, on the other hand, have begun the season riding a 5 game point streak (Their record is 3-0-2. Their last win was against St. Louis on the 13th, which they took 4-3 in overtime. They have gone to overtime in each of the five games they played this year. Artem Anisimov picked up a rebound from a Brandon Saad shot and stuffed it into an empty net to open up the scoring. Alex DeBrincat had a pair of goals, including the game-winner late in overtime for the Blackhawks, along with Patrick Kane, who had one. Brayden Schenn had a couple for the Blues. The Blackhawks are favored in this matchup at -180.
Goaltenders are Key
The Coyotes have an interesting stat sheet, one that shows a team that can defend well but doesn’t find the back of the net very often. They rank 3rd in goals against, having given up only 11, and are 5th in the penalty kill, having killed 91.7% of their penalties, which they also don’t commit very many of. However, they have scored only 3 goals this season, and have been shut out 3 times already. 3 guys are tied at the top of the scoring column with 1 goal apiece. These stats point to an offensively deficient team. Antti Raanta has been saving them in the net, giving up only 2.22 goals per game, and has a .903 save percentage.
Chicago Has Scoring Options
The Chicago stat sheet looks much different. They rank 7th in the league in goals scored, with 22, yet they rank 23rd in goals against, having given up 21. Even though they score many goals, they convert just 11% of their power plays. Alex DeBrincat and Jonathon Toews are tied for the lead in scoring, with 9 points each, while DeBrincat edged Toews out in goals, with 6. Rookie Henri Jokiharju leads the team in assists, with 5.
Crawford in Net
It has been reported that goaltender Corey Crawford is expected to be back in net for the Blackhawks. Many fans believe that Crawford could be the missing piece to propel the Blackhawks back into contention. Many were hoping the Blackhawks could just remain .500 while waiting for his return. Instead, they got off to a fast start with some pretty good play from veteran backup Cam Ward, who has an .879 save percentage. If Crawford can help bring those defensive stats up for Chicago, they will have a much more impressive stat sheet.
Chicago Wins at Home
Arizona has not been able to prove that they can find the back of the net, and the Blackhawks have been lighting teams up enough to push games to overtime. With Crawford added to the mix (Provided he can shake the rust off quickly), they should be able to take this game. We predict Chicago takes this one in a shutout, 2-0. Bet on the Chicago Blackhawks at -180.
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