Konroyd's Keys: Blackhawks need to solve Coyotes' Smith

Konroyd's Keys: Blackhawks need to solve Coyotes' Smith
November 14, 2013, 2:00 pm
Share This Post
Steve Konroyd

1. Solve Smith. Mike Smith is a very good goaltender. In fact, he is one of the best in the NHL and for some reason plays his best against the Blackhawks. Since the start of the 2011 season, and including playoffs, Smith is a perfect 6-0 at the United Center. He single-handedly won the Coyotes' last outing in St. Louis, where he stopped 37 of 39 shots just two nights ago. His team managed 19 shots on net. The book on Smitty is traffic in front and burying your rebounds upstairs.

[MORE: Blackhawks-Coyotes: Five things to watch]

2. Penalty kill has to get back to basics. The penalty kill gave up two power-play goals against Edmonton in the Blackhawks' last game. This after not having allowed a power-play goal in four straight games. The difference? Winning draws, clearing pucks and not allowing passes through the box. Get back to these basics, especially against a team that is three for its last 11 chances.

[RELATED: Blackhawks aim to end Coyotes' Chicago success]

3. Whose D steps up? We should be in for a treat tonight, as the two highest-scoring teams for defensemen will face off against each other. Chicago is ranked No. 1 with 52 points among their D, and Phoenix is No. 2. Duncan Keith scored his first goal of the year in his last game, and he normally scores in bunches. Phoenix is led by Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who will get some Norris Trophy votes by the end of the year. Both teams have active D, and whoever has more success with their back end could win this game.