Arizona Coyotes 2014-2015 Season Preview: The Chicago Blackhawks

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Chicago and the Cup: Some Friendly Advice (and Other Miscellaneous Questions)

Feb 7, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek (4) fights with Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) during the third period at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

HH: So… the Coyotes have never won a Stanley Cup, but word has it the Blackhawks have won one or two? What advice do you think they could give the Coyotes to help them make their Cup dream a reality? 

SP: Have a good GM. Stan Bowman is an absolute mastermind, and has assembled two Stanley Cup-winning rosters in the past five seasons. The first one was demolished the summer after thanks to the salary cap, but this past championship, he managed to keep them all together- and this season’s Blackhawks have 20 guys with a Stanley Cup ring on their finger. Experience pays off, and with four trips to the Western Conference final in the past six seasons, the Hawks have a lot of it. 

*No comment from Catherine. She’s really just staring in awe.*

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HH: I know you said experience- but let’s take a step back first. Which prospect system do you think looks sharper- Arizona’s, or Chicago’s? We asked the same question of Calgary Flames editor Len Nunes- which team do you think would have the upper hand in a game where both teams showcased their most NHL-ready prospects?

SP: In my mind, it would be Chicago’s. With so many elite players at the NHL level, we have a bounty of prospects that are NHL-ready but still in the system. Adam Clendening is a monster on the blue line, and forwards like Alex Broadhurst and Mark McNeill (not to mention Teuvo Teravainen) sure know how to put the puck in the net. One area of concern is goaltending, but hopefully Michael Leighton will right the ship and we can see some playoff action with our AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs.

“They’ve had some time in the playoffs in recent years, though, and I can’t stress enough the fact that Maloney is giving Mark Visentin time to develop with the AHL team.”

CS: It’s tough to say with confidence, because- like the IceHogs- the Portland Pirates struggled last season. They’ve had some time in the playoffs in recent years, though, and I can’t stress enough the fact that Maloney is giving Mark Visentin time to develop with the AHL team. Combine him and firecracker Max Domi with the wealth of players that Arizona picked up this off-season- including Brendan Perlini, who looks pretty sharp already- and I think that the Coyotes have a pretty great selection of prospects to choose from in the next few years. I can’t leave out Brandon McMillan, either- he currently skates with the Pirates as one of the team’s Alternate Captains. Expect to see him in Arizona sooner rather than later. 

HH : It seems inevitable that the Western Conference will be a little bit more intense this year- we got a nice preview of the conference’s intensity during the playoffs this past spring. While the Boston Bruins/Detroit Red Wings had zero penalties in the third period of their Game 4, the San Jose Sharks/LA Kings had fourteen in the third period of their respective fourth game. 

SP: It will be- and rightfully so. There’s so many teams that belong in the post-season from this conference, and only eight spots to fill. I expect the Wild Card race to be even tighter this season- no one will run away with the first spot like Minnesota did this year. Some of those late-season games with Wild Card teams are going to be absolute barn burners. When the playoffs begin, it will be even more intense. No easy series this year. 

CS: The West is full of teams that don’t shy away from physical confrontation- even though a lot of teams have been moving away from their fourth-line plugs (even the fan favorites), the physical dominance in the West is impossible to deny. Beyond the Hawks, Kings, Ducks, and Blues, the next four playoff spots will be a total toss-up- and the teams that will be competing for them will certainly give their fans a show. The West is never an easy place, but this upcoming season is going to be a terrifying showdown. 

HH: With these predictions that the West will see an increase in on-ice, inter-conference tension, pick a fight that you think will happen during a Hawks/Yotes game. 

SP: Well, both teams lost their main scrappers, Paul Bissonette and Brandon Bollig. I expect a couple of young, run-and-gun forwards to fill their void- let’s say Jeremy Morin vs Chris Summers.

“The West is never an easy place, but this upcoming season is going to be a terrifying showdown. “

CS: I’m not sure who on the Coyotes he’ll manage to push this far- but as for the Chicago Blackhawks, I think your culprit will be Andrew Shaw. He’s everyone favorite pest in the West, and during a high-tension game, that’s sure to cause someone to snap. Let’s go with BJ Crombeen. 

In case you missed em’, here’s our season matchup previews with the New York Islanders and the Calgary Flames. Think we got something wrong? Let us know, and we’ll see you again next time!