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Coyotes at Blackhawks Preview

Arizona is playing Chicago on national television on Thursday

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

The Coyotes will begin a two-game road trip on Thursday night by playing a game at the Chicago Blackhawks that will be televised nationally by NBCSN. The puck drops at 6:30 p.m. Arizona time.

Arizona (21-30-7) has won eight of its past 13 games, including a 3-2 victory over Anaheim on Monday. 

"Any time you're playing on national TV it's a lot of fun," forward Ryan White said. "Playing in a market like Arizona, you don't get that all the time so it's something you've got to jump on and take advantage of. I'm sure there's lots of people watching at this time of year ... it's definitely a good stage to play on, for sure."

Video: Ryan White previews Thursday's game vs. Hawks

Goalie Mike Smith will make his 40th start. League officials, per the NHL's concussion protocol, pulled Smith from Monday's game in the third period after his head-to-head collision with Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg. Smith was cleared to return to the game with about two minutes left, but he did not get back on the ice.

At Tuesday's practice, Head Coach Dave Tippett was asked if he was OK with what had transpired.

"It doesn't matter whether I'm OK with it or not," Tippett said. "That's what the League has mandated ... The NHL's going to do everything in its power to make sure that player safety is top notch. They feel that's the key step in it. They're not going to put a player in jeopardy, players are going to have to recognize that, and that's the way it's going to go."

The Coyotes are looking to avoid being swept by Chicago this season; the Blackhawks beat Arizona, 4-0, at the United Center on Dec. 6, and, 4-3, at Gila River Arena on Feb. 2.

Forward Radim Vrbata, who leads the team with 41 points, will enter the game with a six-game point streak. Vrbata's career-high point streak is seven games, which he produced in 2011-12.

Captain Shane Doan will play in his 1,525th game and move past Brendan Shanahan into 15th place on the NHL's all-time games-played list.

Defenseman Anthony DeAngelo has rejoined the team from the American Hockey League and will play for the first time since New Year's Eve. 

"He's a real high-skilled player that can play the game fast, which we need," Tippett said. "(We'll) put him in a situation tonight (and) see if he can come play fast."

Video: Anthony DeAngelo previews Thursday's game vs. Hawks

Backup goalie Louis Domingue has recovered from a lower-body injury that sidelined him for three games and will serve as Smith's backup on Thursday. Thus, the Coyotes assigned goalie Marek Langhamer to the AHL on Wednesday before leaving Arizona. Meanwhile, rookie Lawson Crouse, who has missed the past five games because of a lower-body injury, accompanied the team on the trip, which concludes on Friday vs. Dallas. He won't play vs. Chicago, but might play against the Stars.

Video: Dave Tippett previews Thursday's game at Hawks

Chicago (37-18-5) has won seven of its past eight games and is averaging 4.25 goals per game over that stretch.

"We like the way things are trending, we like our four-line game, and we like the balance in our team," Head Coach Joel Quenneville told reporters after the team's 5-3 win at Minnesota on Tuesday. 

Captain Jonathan Toews notched five points, including three goals, in the victory over the Wild. Toews has tallied 20 points over his past 12 games. 

Winger Patrick Kane ranks seventh in the NHL with 60 points (20 goals, 40 assists) in 60 games and he's fourth in the League with 215 shots on goal.

Duncan Keith ranks fifth among NHL defensemen with 41 points and needs just one more to reach 500 for his NHL career.

Corey Crawford is expected to start in goal. Crawford has posted a 5-1-0 record in February and he stopped 166 of 182 shots in those six games. He is undefeated in all five games he has played on Thursdays this season. 



TV: NBC Sports Network

Radio: ESPN Phoenix 620 AM


Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: Tonight's projected lineup. #ARIvsCHI

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