Arizona Coyotes Hunting For Points Against Blackhawks

Arizona Coyotes

Apr 5, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (57) against the Arizona Coyotes center Brad Richardson (12) during the game at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes have had a rough season but the team seems to finally be coming together as the team heads into a matchup with the playoff contending Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night.

For the first and only time this season, the Chicago Blackhawks will visit the desert to play the Arizona Coyotes.

The Blackhawks, having had a bumpy ride through the season thus far, are looking to put the pieces back together against an Arizona squad just looking to develop their youth towards the future.

But this game will likely be more than just a game worth two meaningful points to Chicago and two meaningless points to the Coyotes.

This game will be a big test for the young players looking to stay with the squad. It will also be a test for some of the pending UFA’s or trade bait players laden cross the Arizona Coyotes roster.

This game could determine the difference between a Grade A and Grade B prospect in a trade.

It might be the difference between a 1st and 2nd round pick or, in the case of the rookies, more or less playing time down the stretch as positions above them open due to trade departures.

Should the Arizona Coyotes win this game, the value of their assets will rise as teams building for Stanley Cup runs, including Chicago, will really see what these players are capable of against top competition.

Take note Martin Hanzal, Shane Doan, Radim Vrbata and Michael Stone because any of you could be wearing a Chief Blackhawk sweater sooner or later).

So in preparation for this edition of the Arizona Coyotes-Chicago Blackhawks matchup, Howlin’ Hockey sat down with Greg Bradshaw from over at FanSided’s Blackhawk Up, to ask 5 questions leading up to the Thursday night affair in the desert.

Jun 18, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Antoine Vermette (80) holds the Stanley Cup during the 2015 Stanley Cup championship rally at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Jun 18, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Antoine Vermette (80) holds the Stanley Cup during the 2015 Stanley Cup championship rally at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Temes spoke with Greg Bradshaw of Blackhawk Up about the Chicago Blackhawks.

Alex Temes (AT): In recent years, the Blackhawks have been big buyers at the trade deadline. Given how the team has a diminished prospect pool and very limited cap space, what kind of moves do you anticipate Stan Bowman making as the deadline nears?
Greg Bradshaw (GB): As usual, I anticipate the Blackhawks will be buyers at the trade deadline. It comes as no surprise as the core is aging and window for winning is still as open as ever. However, there are still quite a few relevant prospects that i would hate to see go in some sort of package deal for a trade deadline pick up. Alex DeBrincat is the biggest one that comes to mind. DeBrincat leads the entire OHL in points (81) and goals scored (38), and practically fell into the ‘Hawks’ lap in the second round of last year’s draft.
The Blackhawks are as thin as ever this year and are in drastic need of depth. Depth has been key to previous Stanley Cup runs, and this year the ‘Hawks’ bottom six is rather scarce. Along with a bottom six forward, the Blackhawks have searched desperately for a top LW to pair with Jonathan Toews. This could be the year GM Stan Bowman makes a huge splash and goes after a player such as James van Riemsdyk or maybe even Matt Duchene if Colorado would be willing to retain some salary.”
There are quite a few options, but sadly rookies like Nick Schmaltz, Tyler Motte, and Ryan Hartman could be departing in order to make this happen. Personally I’m not ok with sacrificing the future of the team, but its a business and the time to win could be vanishing sooner than later.
Apr 5, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) against Arizona Coyotes center Max Domi (16) during the game at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 5, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) against Arizona Coyotes center Max Domi (16) during the game at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

AT: Chicago has had a lot of ups and downs recently, going between a complete dusting in Washington a couple weeks ago and a shutout over Boston a week later. What do you think has been the cause of these ups and downs?
 
GB: “Its been said time and time again that the Blackhawks are exhausted from countless playoff runs, but this is simply not the right excuse. The Washington Capitals were the better team by far and they still are. The Blackhawks have their fits with regards to finding consistency, but will all of the sudden flip the switch and look like no doubt contenders. The cause for these up’s and down’s is almost 100% mental. Earlier in the year, the ‘Hawks struggled at getting off to good starts in games. Well, now the problem has been finshing games and playing a strong 60 minutes. Of course thats easier said than done, but Chicago needs to find the even medium rather than letting up on teams.”
Jan 29, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Central Division forward Jonathan Toews (19) of the Chicago Blackhawks scores against Pacific Division goaltender Mike Smith (41) of the Arizona Coyotes during the 2017 NHL All Star Game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 29, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Central Division forward Jonathan Toews (19) of the Chicago Blackhawks scores against Pacific Division goaltender Mike Smith (41) of the Arizona Coyotes during the 2017 NHL All Star Game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

AT: What kind of strategy do you feel Stan Bowman and the Hawks will use when preparing for the expansion draft? Who do you think will be taken by Vegas or will the Hawks make some proactive moves heading into the trade deadline to save players like Trevor van Riemsdyk and/or Marcus Kruger?
 
GB: As previously mentioned, The Blackhawks need all the forwards they can keep as there is simply no depth to this team. As long as Ryan Hartman isn’t packaged in a deal at the trade deadline, I would say he should be protected this year. I don’t believe the Blackhawks will choose to protect Marcus Kruger. Although Kruger is a solid defensive forward, he simply lacks the scoring touch and has a cap hit that ‘Hawks can’t afford to keep. With Artemi Panarin signing his big extension, Chicago will be looking to shed as much salary as possible. Losing Kruger just makes sense.
TVR [Trevor van Riemsdyk] is pretty hit or miss in my book. He has shown flashes of offensive ability, but has struggled in his own end as of late. I believe he may be taken in the expansion draft along with backup goaltender Scott Darling. Darls has been playing solid all year long and deserves to be the number one goaltender somewhere. The loss of Darling would be a tough pill to swallow, but Chicago just can’t afford him with the ever present salary cap problem.
Dec 23, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) takes the opening face off against Arizona Coyotes right wing Shane Doan (19) to start the game at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 23, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) takes the opening face off against Arizona Coyotes right wing Shane Doan (19) to start the game at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

AT: As a fan from an Original 6 market team, what kind of role would you say the Arizona Coyotes have in the hockey world given the Auston Matthews story and ASU’s jump into NCAA D-1 Hockey? Do you think the new stadium plan near a college campus will help with the Coyotes’ attendance and fanbase perceptions?
 
GB: The Arizona Coyotes play a very crucial role in the world of hockey, but most importantly, USA hockey. Unfortunately for Arizona, the ‘Yotes haven’t been able to establish a winning, contending team presently, but the future of team brings a ton promise to the fans. When the future is so bright, the hopes for fans only grows into belief that this will be the year their team makes the leap into contention. Although the present isn’t super bright, Arizona is putting themselves on the map and continuing to grow the sport of hockey in the United States. The Auston Matthews story was and still is huge. Who would’ve thought a future franchise superstar would be coming from the desert. Hockey continues to expand through the United States and it’s definitely huge to see a franchise like Arizona continue this growth.
The new stadium will be big for team, the state, and the fans. As prospects continue to develop in the ‘Yotes system, the hope that one day the Coyotes as consistent playoff contenders will be on step closer to reality. Building the fan base will grow as the team continues to develop and prosper. The Arizona Coytotes along with the state of Arizona are absolutely on the right path.
Apr 5, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) lands on Chicago Blackhawks left wing Teuvo Teravainen (86) in the third period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 5, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) lands on Chicago Blackhawks left wing Teuvo Teravainen (86) in the third period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

AT: What’s your prediction for the Hawks-Coyotes game on Thursday?
 
GB: The last meeting between the two teams resulted in a 4-0 shutout in favor of the ‘Hawks. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this will not be the same result. Goaltending has been great for the Blackhawks all year long, but as of late it’s not been at its best. The ‘Yotes will probably sneak a couple in, but I’m still going to give the Blackhawks an edge in this one. This will be the week for the ‘Hawks to get back on the right track. I’m going to predict a 3-1 victory for Chicago.
The Arizona Coyotes will play the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night, February 2nd on Fox Sports Arizona and on Comcast Sports Net-Chicago at 7 PM Mountain/ 8 PM Central.
Be sure to follow @howlinhockey and @blackhawkup on Twitter for live in-game commentary, analysis and updates!

This article originally appeared on