BLACKHAWKS (34-16-4) AT COYOTES (24-21-5)
TV: CSN-CH, FS-A, NHL.TV
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The statistics are impressive for any rookie season: 14 goals, 26 points and an eye-popping 21.9 shooting percentage.
The question is how much more can Arizona Coyotes forward Anthony Duclair contribute if the other parts of his game take the next step?
Duclair will try to extend his goal-scoring streak to three games when the Coyotes play against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; CSN-CH, FS-A, NHL.TV). And for a team suddenly scrapping for offense after a strong first three months, an active and productive Duclair would certainly help.
Demoted to the fourth line for a few games after his scoring and game impact fell off, Duclair has had 13 shots on goal in the past three games and has scored in the past two, including a goal in the 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday where he put the brakes on in the high slot and beat goalie Jonathan Quick with a hard wrist shot just inside the post.
"Since we put him down in the lineup, he's been pretty good here," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. "He's got that dynamic element back in his game. When he gets the puck, you feel like something good can happen."
Something very good has happened on 14 of his 62 shots on goal this season, which is why the Coyotes want to see Duclair shoot the puck more and get himself in more scoring situations. Tippett feels that too often Duclair waits for things to happen on the ice instead of forcing the issue and maximizing his obvious talents.
"He's got to put the work in away from the puck. When he's got it, he can be a dangerous player and that's what we've seen the last few games," Tippett said. "He has to work to get in position to get the puck and then working while he has the puck.
"You can't shoot unless you have the puck. But you don't get the puck unless you get open or you go get it yourself. If you're just going to stand around and wait for it to come to you, you won't have it enough."
The Coyotes had a full workout Thursday after taking an unscheduled day off Wednesday. Several Arizona players reported feeling ill and Tippett worried it might spread through the rest of the team.
"Everyone showed up today and that was a good sign," he said. "I would have rather had the practice, but when some guys are missing and you're worried about getting other guys sick, it was probably the smart thing to do."
The Coyotes recalled forward Steve Downie, who was already in town with the American Hockey League on its All-Star break, as a precaution in case he was needed to fill a spot.
"After yesterday I was wondering where we were. But it sounds like we'll be all right," Tippett said.
Arizona will start goalie Louis Domingue, who has allowed 10 goals in his past two starts and was pulled in the third period of the loss to the Kings. The Coyotes have a back-to-back situation on the road against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday, but Tippett said what happens against Chicago will determine who will play in goal.
"I expect [Domingue] to be way better. He knows it and that's where we're at," Tippett said.
The Blackhawks defeated the Coyotes 7-5 in Arizona on Dec. 28, their first win in what turned out to be a 12-game winning streak that pushed them to the top of the Western Conference standings. Chicago lost three of four games before the All-Star break and was outscored 11-1 in the three losses but bounced back with a 2-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.
Captain Jonathan Toews returns to the lineup after sitting out the win against Colorado under League rules. Toews missed the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game in Nashville because of illness, necessitating him missing the next game on the schedule.
Toews will be back in his regular spot between Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa against the Coyotes.
Here are the projected lineups:
Andrew Shaw - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane
Andrew Desjardins - Phillip Danault - Teuvo Teravainen
Richard Panik - Dennis Rasmussen - Jiri Sekac
Duncan Keith - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Erik Gustafsson - Brent Seabrook
Trevor van Riemsdyk - Viktor Svedberg
Injured: Marcus Kruger (wrist)
Scratched: Brandon Mashinter, Michal Rozsival, Rob Scuderi
Tobias Rieder - Antoine Vermette - Mikkel Boedker
Max Domi - Martin Hanzal - - Anthony Duclair
Jordan Martinook - Brad Richardson - Shane Doan
Kyle Chipchura - Boyd Gordon - Viktor Tikhonov
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Connor Murphy
Klas Dahlbeck - Zbynek Michalek
Nicklas Grossmann - Michael Stone
Injured: Mike Smith (abdominal surgery), Joe Vitale (fractured orbital bone)
Scratched: Jarred Tinordi, Kevin Connauton
Status report: Tippett made two changes on defense, with Dahlbeck and Grossmann drawing in for Tinordi. With eight healthy players on the blue line, that group figures to be mixed and matched a lot.
Who's hot: Duclair is now fourth among NHL rookies in goals (14) and fifth in points (26). … Chicago had 12 players with at least one point in the Dec. 28 win against Arizona. Keith and Kane had three each and Desjardins had two goals. … Kane has 33 points in 27 games against the Coyotes.