The Chicago Blackhawks have gotten off to a start they’d rather forget about. We keep waiting for them to break out of their funk and go on a growth spurt, but it’s been tough sledding of late for the Blackhawks. Is it just a fluke of a bad start, or are there underlying causes holding them back? After winning just one game in their last six games, which included a five-game losing streak, I think we’re going to find out in the next few weeks.
The return of Corey Crawford should definitely help some. He came back against the Sabres to stop the bleeding, as the Blackhawks earned a 3-2 win in overtime. Barely beating the Sabres isn’t going to do much to instill much confidence in them, though. A win against the Coyotes on Sunday night wouldn’t either, but they can restore some momentum with a couple of wins in a row. After losing five straight, that’s really all you can ask for.
The Blackhawks haven’t looked particularly interested in playing this season. They almost look bored without their focus on the ice. Duncan Keith, who has been a fixture on the blue line for the Blackhawks, has just looked slow and sloppy. He isn’t getting any younger, which could explain why he’s lost a step. No Marian Hossa for the year doesn’t help the cause, either. The Blackhawks will nevertheless look better with Corey Crawford in net. Anton Forsberg is not a starting goaltender in the NHL, a fringe backup at best. We’ll see if the Blackhawks hit a pothole again tonight against the lowly Coyote at the United Center. Head below for our free Coyotes vs. Blackhawks pick.
Arizona Coyotes vs. Chicago Blackhawks Pick
Corey Crawford enters Sunday night with a GAA of 2.27 and 0.93 save percentage. Compare this to his backup Forsberg, who holds a 3.33 GAA and 0.906 save percentage. That’s a fairly significant jump. In other words, it’s imperative for Crawford to stay healthy for the Blackhawks. Scott Darling isn’t there now, and the Hawks are finding out what it’s like without a capable backup. If Crawford suffers a long-term injury, good luck with the season Hawks. For the purposes of tonight, though, Crawford will be in net against the Yotes.
The Coyotes have been the basement dwellers of the NHL this season, as they enter the United Center with a record of 7-20-4. The first pick in the draft is looking pretty good. If only it could have happened when Arizona native Auston Matthews was available. The Coyotes have won just one game in their seven games. The Hawks are in a rut, but for the Coyotes, losing like that is just part of the drill in 2017-18.
Arizona are allowing a huge 3.4 goals per game, while scoring just 2.28 goals per game. That puts them at 30th in scoring and 30th in goals against. It’s easy to be a 7-20-4 hockey team with numbers like that. The Blackhawks have gone 5-1-0 over the Coyotes at home in their last six meetings, and are 13-3 over them in their last sixteen. The Blackhawks need a team to beat up on, and they should get their wish against the Coyotes on Sunday.
PICK: BLACKHAWKS -1.5 (+125)