Blackhawks ready to prove themselves against Coyotes

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Blackhawks ready to prove themselves against Coyotes

After their 5-2 victory in Los Angeles, the Blackhawks headed to Glendale, Ariz., where they'll face the Coyotes Sunday night. Catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet beginning at 8:30 with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

GLENDALE, Ariz. The Chicago Blackhawks first-round playoff series with the Phoenix Coyotes last season had a little bit of everything. Enough overtimes to fill a deadline writers nightmares, big hits some a little too big high drama, a good dose of venom and a couple of player suspensions.

Its intriguing stuff. And thanks to that six-game series that seemed so placid and harmless at the start, the Blackhawks and Coyotes are developing a little rivalry that continues tonight at Jobing.com Arena.

No, the Blackhawks-Coyotes isnt near the Blackhawks-Canucks matchups in terms of angst, bad blood and nastiness. OK, other than Blackhawks fans not being big on Raffi Torres, first for giving Brent Seabrook a concussion in the 2011 playoffs and then Marian Hossa last spring.

But theres still something there between the Hawks and Yotes, bred from the close and emotional series that led to another premature playoff end for the Blackhawks.

Ive always said if you play a team in the playoffs you all of a sudden have history with them. Even the next year, game by game, it gets more personal as it goes along, captain Jonathan Toews said. Theyll be ready to bounce back from their game (Saturday) and we have to do the same and be ready to play.

Patrick Sharp agreed.

Every time you face a team in the playoffs, theres always some bad blood, he said. Theyve got a lot of classy guys over there and theyre a respectful team. But theyre still the team that sent us home last year so we want to make sure we play our best.

For Hossa, the budding rivalry may take a bit of a backseat. His 2011-12 season ended in Game 3 with that Torres elbow to his head, and this is just his second game since then. Torres wont be playing tonight hes still serving seven more games from that 21-game suspension. And for Hossa, he doesnt look at this game as a hurdle to clear.

I dont think about it that way. Its just another game for me, said Hossa, who was asked about the potential emotional level tonight. To tell you the truth, I dont know what to expect. Im going to prepare as usual.

Andrew Shaw also had a front seat to last years series although he watched from afar for three of those games, his punishment for hitting Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith. He said this one could get feisty quick.

Every game gets a little snarly, he said. I just have to try to get under their skin, take pucks into dirty areas and hopefully contribute to the power play.

Blackhawks-Coyotes isnt Blackhawks-Canucks. But theres definitely some angst there that, as Toews said, could build with more matchups. Who knows if they could meet in the postseason again. Right now, the Blackhawks would settle for a little regular-season vindication.

Its the second game into the season and youre playing team that beat you in the playoffs, Shaw said. You cant wait to get at them.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Coyotes tonight on CSN+

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Coyotes tonight on CSN+

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes tonight on CSN+ and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. A high-scoring affair?

In three meetings last season, the Blackhawks amassed 18 goals and captured victories in all three of them by final scores of 7-5, 5-4 (OT) and 6-2. The Blackhawks could use a high-scoring game, having scored only one goal or fewer in six of their last eight games. Of course, they could also use a win to avoid losing three straight for the first time this season. The good news is, they've had their way with the Coyotes for a while now, owning a 9-1-2 against them since the start of the 2012-13 season.

2. Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin.

The dynamic duo of Kane and Panarin gave the Coyotes headaches last year, combining for four goals and eight assists in those three contests. Even before that, Kane has given them problems. The reigning Hart Trophy winner has 10 goals and 26 assists in 29 career games against the Coyotes, averaging 1.24 points per game. It could be a long night for Mike Smith.

3. Get shots on net.

The Blackhawks have been outshot in six of their last seven games, which isn't exactly a formula for success despite them having a 3-3-1 record during that span. The Coyotes are coming to town as the worst team in the league, by far, in shots allowed per game at 35.4 and gave up 60 shots on goal to Columbus over the weekend. This should be a confidence-building game for the Blackhawks.

4. Control the puck.

To get shots on goal, you have to have the puck. Luckily for the Blackhawks, they should have it a lot tonight. The Coyotes are the worst puck possession team in the league, controlling only 44.6 percent of the even-strength shot attempts while the Blackhawks rank near the middle of the pack at 50.4. There's no excuse for the Blackhawks not to be in the offensive zone more than their own.

5. Rookies gone quiet.

Ryan Hartman, Vinnie Hinostroza and Tyler Motte all stepped up in large roles during the Circus Trip, but have been quiet on the scoresheet since the Blackhawks returned to Chicago. With Corey Crawford and Jonathan Toews out, two of the Blackhawks' most important players, it's crucial to get contributions from every player to make up for those losses. The veterans have been leading the way lately, but it hasn't been enough for an offense that has dried up. Perhaps one of the young guns can provide that spark the team is looking for.

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Blackhawks prospects Alex DeBrincat, Chad Krys named to USA's preliminary World Juniors roster

Blackhawks prospects Alex DeBrincat, Chad Krys named to USA's preliminary World Juniors roster

Blackhawks prospects Alex DeBrincat and Chad Krys were selected to Team USA's preliminary roster for the World Junior Championships, USA Hockey announced Monday.

They're two of five players that have been brought back after helping USA take home the bronze medal at last year's tournament.

DeBrincat, the Blackhawks' 2016 second-round pick (No. 36 overall), leads the Ontario Hockey League this season with 28 goals and ranks second with 56 points in 26 games with the Erie Otters. The 5-foot-7 winger, who turns 19 on Dec. 18, had one goal in five tournament games last year.

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Krys, the Blackhawks' 2016 second-round pick (No. 45 overall), has one goal and one assist in 14 games so far during his freshman year at Boston University.

He's no stranger to international hockey.

Krys, 18, most recently sported the red, white and blue sweater last year with the U.S National under-18 team in the United States Hockey League, where he scored three goals and added 26 assists in 53 games.

The players will attend training camp from Dec. 16-20 in Buffalo followed by an additional camp from Dec. 20-24, which will include pre-tournament games on Dec. 21 against Switzerland and Dec. 23 against the Czech Republic, both of which will take place in Ontario.

The 23-man roster is expected to be finalized by Dec. 24.