Preview: Coyotes vs. Blackhawks, 6:30 p.m., FOX Sports Arizona
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes could be getting a major contributor back Thursday night when they host the Chicago Blackhawks.
Left winger Max Domi practiced with the Coyotes on Wednesday — the first time that has happened since he broke his hand in a fight against Calgary’s Garnet Hathaway on Dec. 8. Domi is considered day-to-day, but coach Dave Tippett did not rule out him playing against the Blackhawks.
“That wasn’t the plan but we’ll see,” Tippett said. “We’ll see where it goes.”
Domi has missed 23 games but still ranks fifth on the team in scoring with 16 points (five goals, 11 assists). The Coyotes are 8-14-1 during his absence.
“It’s going to take him some time to get back up to speed, but when he went out he was our leading scorer,” Tippett said. “He’s an impact player. He plays the game fast and he plays it hard. He’s got high skill. There’s lots to like about his game, for sure.”
Given Domi’s importance to the team, Tippett said the coaching staff has talked to him about the wisdom of fighting. He was also in a notable fight with Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler earlier in the season, dropping Kesler with one punch. Tippett did not elaborate on the nature of the conversation.
“We’ve had a lot of those discussions with Max, but we’ll keep that internally,” Tippett said.
“Max plays the game hard. It’s funny, nobody seemed to mind when he got in the fight with Kesler, but then he got in the other fight and everybody doesn’t like that one. I’m not sure how that works. We’ll just leave it at that.”
The Coyotes (16-27-6) made a couple of trades involving minor leaguers on Wednesday — sending forward forward Henrik Samuelsson to the Edmonton organization and goaltender Justin Peters to the Dallas Stars. With less than a month until the trade deadline and the team out of the playoff race, trade considerations will be ongoing for general manager John Chayka.
First-line center Martin Hanzal will be an unrestricted free agent after the season and could be one of the top players on the market. Defenseman Michael Stone and right winger Radim Vrbata, the team’s leading scorer (11 goals, 34 points), are also candidates to be moved.
Chicago general manager Stan Bowman told reporters in San Jose on Tuesday that he does not anticipate any significant moves to bolster the Blackhawks’ questionable depth.
“I’ve said this from the beginning of the year, and I mean it: We have a different dynamic this year because we have a lot more young players that have been with our team this year from the beginning,” Bowman said via the Chicago Sun Times. “Established players, they don’t typically get better as the year goes on.
“They’re at their level, and they maintain it. If anything, they drop off due to injury or fatigue or whatnot. But we’ve got a different dynamic at play. We’ve already seen it with a few of them. They’re better now than they were in October.”
It was a curious statement to make for a team with forward depth issues that needs a suitable left wing to play on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, but it sounded even stranger after the Hawks dropped their third consecutive game Tuesday in San Jose, falling from the top overall spot in the Western Conference to a tie for third with Anaheim.
The Blackhawks (30-17-5) are a mediocre possession team this season, nothing close to the teams that won Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015. The reasons for Bowman’s stance are likely tied to their limited cap space and the fact that so few teams have assumed the role of seller.
With one month left before the deadline, only Colorado and Arizona have fallen far enough off the playoff pace.
“The way the standings are going, I don’t know if teams are going to fall out of the race,” Bowman said. “There may be fewer players than ever on the market, relative to other years, just because of the way the standings are.”
Chicago has scored just six goals during their current losing streak and is 1 for 20 on the power play over their last eight games. Kane leads the team with 49 points, while Hossa and Artem Anisimov share the lead in goals with 18.
Mike Smith did not practice Wednesday for the Coyotes but is expected to start in goal, while Chicago will counter with Corey Crawford.
The Blackhawks always draw a big crowd at Gila River Arena, and another one is expected. The Coyotes are 1-5-1 in their past seven home games against Chicago.