The Chicago Blackhawks will finally get back on the ice Thursday night when they welcome the Arizona Coyotes to the United Center, and they’ll be welcoming back one of their most important players.
Corey Crawford, who has been out since December with a concussion, will make his long-awaited debut this season when he takes on one of the NHL’s worst offenses.
The Coyotes have a 1-4-0 record so far this season, and their struggles have started with their offense. They have managed just three goals in five games so far in the current campaign, and have been shut out three times.
The absence of forward Alex Galchenyuk has been a big blow to the Coyotes, and even with some strong defensive play, they haven’t been able to get things going in their direction.
As for the Blackhawks, they are still unbeaten in regulation this season, and have yet to have a game end in regulation as well, playing in five straight overtime periods. Their up-tempo offense has given them three wins already, and strong starts from Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews have helped pave the way to that success.
The one area where the Blackhawks are really struggling is on special teams, as they have one of the league’s worst penalty killing units (28th in the NHL) and power play groups (25th in the league). They are also giving up 4.2 goals per game, the second-worst total in the league, but their 4.4 goals per game on offense has helped to offset those struggles.
Player to Watch: Henri Jokiharju
After getting off to a strong start to his NHL career from a scoring perspective, Jokiharju has been held off the scoresheet in the team’s last two games, despite having seven shots on goal and playing over 23 minutes per game in the two contests.
The Coyotes do have one of the league’s best defenses so far this season, giving up just 2.2 goals per game, but with their offense struggling badly, they could end up trying to get more blue liners involved in their scoring attack. That strategy should allow Jokiharju to be able to get more involved on the offensive side of things, and he should have an opportunity to get on the scoresheet, and even potentially score his first career goal.
How to Watch:
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., and the game can be seen on NBC Sports Chicago.