COYOTES CONTINUE ROAD TRIP IN CHICAGO
|Phoenix at Chicago|
GAME: Phoenix Coyotes (7-8-1) at Chicago Blackhawks (4-10-0).
TIME: Sunday, 7 p.m. EST.
Not much is going right for the Chicago Blackhawks this season.
Coming off their worst performance of the season, the Blackhawks hope to rebound as they return to the United Center to face the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Blackhawks were pounded by the Dallas Stars 9-1 on Friday, one of the worst losses in franchise history. Only a 12-0 drubbing at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings in 1987, a 9-2 loss to the New York Islanders and an 8-1 rout by the Colorado Avalanche - both during the 2002-03 season - have been worse.
The Blackhawks have five losses in their last six games, and are second-to-last in the league with only eight points.
"(We're) was about as bad as we can get," captain Adrian Aucoin said. "They jumped on us and never looked back. It was horrible."
Nikolai Khabibulin's rough start to the season continued Friday, as he was pulled after allowing four goals on 18 shots in the first period.
Khabibulin is last in the NHL with 46 goals allowed, a 4.11 goals-against average and an .843 save percentage.
The Blackhawks, however, haven't helped their goaltender very much. Their power play and penalty-killing units are both in the NHL's bottom five and the offense is averaging less than three goals per game.
"It's been real frustrating, but you can't let it get to you," left wing Kyle Calder said. "You've got to work hard and get through it. Anything in life is difficult. You just have to face the facts and battle through it."
While Chicago is floundering, the Coyotes come into the United Center following an impressive 4-1 road win at Detroit on Saturday.
Curtis Joseph stopped 36 shots in his first game in Detroit since leaving the Red Wings.
"Anytime you've played in a place and you get a win against your old team, it feels good," said Joseph, who signed as a free agent with Phoenix after playing for Detroit from 2002-04.
Special teams were key for the Coyotes, as they killed off all four Red Wings' power plays in the third period and held them scoreless in seven chances overall. The power-play unit excelled as well, converting four times in nine opportunities.
Phoenix has won two straight and four of six.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 5): Coyotes - 15 points, 5th place, 5 PB, Pacific Division. Blackhawks - 8 points, 3rd place (tied), 17 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Coyotes - Mike Leclerc, 7 goals; Paul Mara, 11 assists and 14 points; Tyson Nash, 40 PIM. Blackhawks - Pavel Vorobiev, 6 goals and 15 points; Vorobiev and Tyler Arnason, 9 assists; Matthew Barnaby, 36 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 5): Coyotes - Power play: 20.7 percent (23 for 111), tied for 9th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.6 percent (71 for 88), tied for 19th. Blackhawks - Power play: 14.1 percent (14 for 99), tied for 23rd. Penalty killing: 76.9 percent (90 for 117), 27th.
GOALTENDERS: Coyotes - Joseph (6-4-0, 2 SO, 2.26 GAA); David Leneveu (1-4-1, 3.33). -Khabibulin (3-9-0, 4.11); Craig Anderson (1-1-0, 5.12).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Coyotes, 1-0-3.
LAST MEETING: April 3, 2004; Coyotes, 2-1, (OT). At Phoenix, Krys Kolanos scored a power-play goal 2:55 into overtime to lift the Coyotes.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Coyotes - 3-6-0 on the road; Blackhawks - 2-3-0 at home.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
The key to the game for the Coyotes will be limiting the number of turnovers. The Blackhawks are talented and while they may not be a Western Conference power at this time, they do hold the tools to be come one. If Phoenix is going to come out of the windy city with a win, they can't give away free scoring opportunities in their own zone. By controlling the puck and making smart play, Phoenix will dramatically increase their chances of heading to Minnesota, looking for a undefeated road trip.
Coyotes rookie David LeNeveu will start in goal against the Blackhawks on Saunday.