1: No Kane or Oduya – no problem if you work hard: The Blackhawks were without a top-four defenseman in Johnny Oduya in their last game against Anaheim’s No. 2 ranked offense. They buckled down and shut out the Ducks at home. Tonight will be a little more challenging in that they are without a top forward and creative wizard on the power play in Patrick Kane. I thought Michal Rozival did a fantastic job filling in for Oduya, and Brandon Saad will get a chance taking Kane’s place on the second line.
2: Keep Phoenix off the Power Play: The Coyotes have a top-10 power play that has been red-hot of late, going 12-for-51 in their last 15 contests. Vermette, Ekman-Larsson, Ribiero, and Doan are all dangerous with the extra man. A key for the Hawks will be not taking as many penalties. In the last three games they have put the other team on the power play 14 times, almost five kills per game, and about two penalties too many for their season average. Play hard but play smart, and no retaliation against a Phoenix team that likes to ruffle feathers.
3: Get to Smith early: Mike Smith is a good goaltender who will be representing Canada at the upcoming Olympics. His last six games have not been stellar, where he has gone 2-3-1 with a save percentage of just .900. Rebounds have been an issue, and the Blackhawks have to make sure that shots are low, with traffic and bodies at the net. The Blackhawks have won their last three games in Phoenix, and Smith has taken the loss in each.