(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Just under a week ago, the Phoenix Coyotes walked into the United Center and kicked the shit out of the Blackhawks in every aspect of the game. It was probably one of the three worst performances the Hawks put in this year – along with the Vancouver and Edmonton debacles. The Hawks had one good shift in the opening minutes and then watched the Coyotes dominate the last 55 minutes of the hockey game. The UC was a funeral parlor and you would have had to be drunker than Matthew Barnaby to enjoy yourself. Since that horrible evening, each team has played 2 games. The Coyotes were 0-2 in that time (losing to Winnipeg and Philly), while the Hawks took care of business against the Islanders and St. Louis.

The Coyotes come into the game 13-9-3, good for 4th place in the Pacific Division and 9th in the Western Conference. In their last 10 games they are a very mediocre 5-5-0, but they play their best hockey on the road, sporting a 7-4-1 record. The Hawks dominated the first meeting between these teams and the Coyotes controlled the second.

One assumes Mike Smith will be in goal for Phoenix tonight after playing a very good game against the Hawks last Tuesday. Smith has been better than anyone could have expected this season with a 12-6-2 recored with a 2.24 GAA and a .932 SV%.

Their offense is unexceptional and led by Radim Vrbata (12G-10A-22 PTS) and Ryan Whitney (9G-13A-22PTS). After those two guys there is a bit of a drop-off as Shane Doan is having a rough time getting things going and Kyle Turris is just getting his season started after an extended holdout. They also have Raffi Torres, who we all hate for good reason.

The Coyotes defense is led by thief and all around fuckbag Adrian Aucoin as well as impressive youngster Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Keep an eye on Keith Yandle – a defenseman who will look to get involved on the offensive side.

The Blackhawks enter tonight 16-8-3 with 35 points. They lead the Red Wings by 2 points, but Detroit has 2 games in hand and has 2 more regulation wins than the Blackhawks. They have turned it up considerably lately and the Hawks need to continue winning if they want to stay neck and neck with their arch rival.

Corey Crawford appears to be getting the call tonight. Crow watched Ray Emery beat the Blues on Saturday and has struggles in all aspects of his game lately. Some folks wanted Emery go get the start again tonight, but the Hawks don’t play again until Thursday and that is a long time to have your starting goaltender sitting idle.

Marian Hossa will begin the hunt for goal # 400 this evening. He will skate tonight with Patrick Sharp and Marcus Kruger. Hossa sits #85 all time in goals scored coming into tonight with 399 glorious tallies.

I wouldn’t expect Joel Quenneville to shake things up too much tonight. The Hawks had to work for their victory against the Islanders but put in a solid effort against the Blues over the weekend. Hopefully the St. Louis game lit a fire under the Hawks asses which will burn for awhile. Once again, the Blackhawks have to take advantage of the massive amount of home games they play this month and they already blew their first shot against Phoenix. The schedule gets considerably harder after this coming Tuesday night so lets get these points and get on with it.

Go Hawks.