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Blackhawks host Coyotes, who lose Boedker to injury

by Brian Hedger /

COYOTES (16-24-5) at BLACKHAWKS (28-15-2)


CHICAGO -- The Arizona Coyotes will be without forward Mikkel Boedker against the Chicago Blackhawks after he had surgery on his spleen.

Boedker sustained the injury on a hit in a 4-3 shootout loss at the Jets Winnipeg on Sunday and needed surgery after the game. The surgery was successful and he is recovering, according to the Coyotes.

Boedker, who'd played 257 games in a row, was put on injured reserve Monday and is week-to-week. He is the Coyotes' third-leading scorer with 14 goals and 14 assists.

"He's been a good player for us," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. "He's one of our best offensive players and we're a team that has to work to score, so when he's out of our lineup, it's certainly going to impact it. Hopefully it's not going to be long-term, but he's certainly a player we miss."

The Blackhawks have lost two games in a row, which is the first time that's happened since early November, and have lost three of their past four games. Since Dec. 20, they are 6-6-1 and have fallen from first place to third in the Central Division, where they're tied in points (58) with the Winnipeg Jets.

Their ranking in statistics that track puck possession have also dipped significantly.

"Our team feels most comfortable when we have the puck, but at the same time we're a great defending team, and that's the reason we've had success this year," left wing Patrick Sharp said after the morning skate. "It starts with defense. Take it away from guys and take away time and space, and then when we do have it, don't give it up easily."

The Blackhawks did more video review work than usual Monday at practice, looking to see what situations are giving them the most difficulties. One area that likely was inspected closer was their power play, which allowed a shorthanded goal in a 6-3 loss against the Dallas Stars on Sunday.

It was scored off a 2-on-1 rush and was nearly followed by a second shorthanded goal off a similar 2-on-1 rush during a different power play.

Still, each of the past two games against the Stars and Jets were tied in the third period. Chicago dominated third periods this season until lately. Next up is a back-to-back that starts against the Coyotes and finishes at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday leading into the All-Star break.

"We were looking for a response last game, had them where we wanted them in the third period and [it was] a comparable loss [to Winnipeg]," said coach Joel Quenneville, who will coach his 500th game with the Blackhawks on Tuesday. "We want to make sure we have a chance to go into a couple of days off [where] you have momentum and [you're] playing the right way. That's the concentration tonight. Play the right way and we expect results to follow."

The Coyotes also are without defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. This will be Arizona's final game before the All-Star break, so Tippett hopes the upcoming time off will help him recover before the schedule restarts at the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 27.

Coyotes defenseman Brandon Gormley, 22, will play against Chicago. Gormley, who was taken off injured reserve Monday, missed four games with a lower-body injury.

Goalie Mike Smith will start for the Coyotes. Antti Raanta will start for the Blackhawks.

Here are the projected lineups:


Tobias Rieder - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan

Lauri Korpikoski - Martin Hanzal - Sam Gagner

Brandon McMillan - Kyle Chipchura - David Moss

Lucas Lessio - Joe Vitale - B.J. Crombeen

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michael Stone

Keith Yandle - Connor Murphy

Brandon Gormley - Philip Samuelsson

Mike Smith

Michael Lee

Scratched: Martin Erat, Chris Summers

Injured: Mikkel Boedker (spleen surgery), Zbynek Michalek (upper body)


Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Bryan Bickell - Brad Richards - Patrick Kane

Patrick Sharp - Teuvo Teravainen - Andrew Shaw

Joakim Nordstrom - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

David Rundblad - Michal Rozsival

Scratched: Tim Erixon, Daniel Carcillo (suspension)

Injured: Kris Versteeg (hand fracture), Trevor van Riemsdyk (fractured patella)

Status report: Rieder, a rookie forward, will get the biggest opportunity for more ice time with Boedker out. … Bickell skated on the second line at the morning skate, but said afterward he might play with Shaw on the third line. If that happens, look for Sharp to bump up to the second line.

Who's hot: Saad has scored in the past two games and three of the past four. He has eight goals in his past 10 games. … Yandle has assists in three straight games, and Doan had two assists Sunday in his return from a two-game injury absence.

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