By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will put their season-high four-game winning streak on the line tonight when they host the Chicago Blackhawks at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6:30 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (26-21-8) will enter the game 4-0-0 in the month of February and looking to keep climbing the Western Conference standings.
Tonight’s game is the fourth of four between the teams this season. The Coyotes have won two of three, but the Blackhawks won the only game played in Glendale, 5-2, on Oct. 18.
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett is expected to stick with the same lineup tonight as the team pursues its fifth straight win. That means goaltender Mike Smith
, who owns a 3-1-0 record and a 1.68 goals-against average vs. Chicago, will start for the Coyotes. Smith has posted a .951 save percentage during the team’s winning streak.
Coyotes right wing Radim Vrbata
, who leads the team with 25 goals, has scored two game-winning goals in the last six games and is tied for second in the NHL in that category.
The Blackhawks (29-19-7) will enter the game less than 24 hours after playing at San Jose and losing, 5-3, to the Sharks on Friday night. The loss dropped Chicago’s record to 0-6-1 over its last seven games - with all but one of those games played on the road.
"We just need to get out of this, and we just have to battle through it," Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa told reporters. "The way this thing is happening isn't any fun right now. If we get an ugly win, we'll be able to get out of it."
|Photo by Getty Images.
Tippett, who is good friends with Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville, is expecting a tough game from Chicago despite its recent struggles.
"There's two slides to a slump, “ Tippett said. “There's one that they're not playing well, but you know a group like that, with as much character as they have, they're trying to get out of it in a hurry. So they'll be a very dangerous team."
Before the game, the Coyotes will honor former alternate captain Jeremy Roenick by inducting him into the team’s Ring of Honor.
“I don't think it has hit me yet that they're doing this for me,” Roenick told NHL.com. “The ultimate goal is the Hall of Fame, and I think the second best honor you can be given is for what you have done for a team. It's great that the Coyotes are doing this for me.”
► EDITOR'S NOTE:
to watch former Coyotes alternate captain Jeremy Roenick
discuss his upcoming induction into the team's Ring of Honor.