By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will wrap up a brief yet challenging two-game trip tonight when they play the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. The puck drops at 6:30 p.m. (Arizona time).
Backup goalie Jason LaBarbera
likely will be in net for the Coyotes, who are concluding a three-game stretch of games against recent Stanley Cup winners. On Saturday, they played Pittsburgh (2009 NHL champs), and on Monday they played Detroit (2008 NHL champs). The Blackhawks, of course, won the Stanley Cup last season.
|Photo by Getty Images
LaBarbera has fared extremely well vs. Chicago in his career. In four games, he has posted a 3-0-0 record, a 2.27 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage.
The Coyotes (4-5-5) again will play minus captain Shane Doan
, who did not accompany the team on this trip because of a lower-body injury he suffered on Nov. 5 at Dallas. Doan’s status is listed as week-to-week.
Winger Ray Whitney
still is seeking his first goal of the season/with the Coyotes. Perhaps tonight is the night; like LaBarbera, Whitney has thrived vs. Chicago in his NHL career with 10 goals and 20 assists in 38 games.
The Coyotes continue to get scoring production from their defensemen. Phoenix blueliners have chipped in nine goals in 14 games, which is tops in the Western Conference and tied for most in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres.
Like Whitney, Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin
, once a Blackhawks captain, has yet to score a goal this season after chipping in eight last year, as well as six game-deciding shootout goals in his role as “The Closer.”
The Blackhawks (8-8-1), who were forced to reshape their roster because of payroll issues after winning the Stanley Cup in June, have won just four of their first 10 home games.
Former Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco is likely to start in goal on Wednesday. Turco has a 2.32 goals-against average and six shutouts in 41 games against Phoenix despite being just 18-14-2 with one tie in those matchups - all with Dallas.
The Blackhawks will enter the game ranked third in the NHL in power-play efficiency (26.3 percent). In addition, Chicago also ranks third-lowest in penalty minutes per game (9.9).