The Phoenix Coyotes will return to Jobing.com Arena on Saturday night after a quick trip to Texas, but it won't feel exactly like home.
Phoenix will be hosting the Chicago Blackhawks for the first of two games in Phoenix, and the second of four overall. With many Chicago fans transplanted in the Phoenix area, Jobing.com Arena promises to play host to many a Hawks fan on Saturday.
Both teams are coming off games against the Dallas Stars, but both experienced different results.
The Coyotes played a solid game all around against the Stars on Wednesday, holding the Stars to just 18 shots, with Radim Vrbata netting the game winner in the extra frame in the 3-2 win.
Phoenix has won three in a row after losing six of eight, including a five-game skid at home. They've found a defensive mentality to be the best, with two shutouts and two goals allowed to Dallas during this streak.
Chicago's trip to Dallas wasn't so friendly. The Hawks found themselves with an early 3-0 lead, but slowly squandered it, spoiling Marty Turco's return to Dallas. He allowed all three goals he faced in the shootout, with Chicago losing 4-3.
Even with the struggles, each team on this road trip seems to have a tough time stopping captain Jonathan Toews. Toews has recorded points in six consecutive game, with five of those including multiple points.
Playing the season more against the salary cap than their opponents, it's been a tough road for the Blackhawks to this point. They've struggled to maintain consistency, and health, with three players leaving Saturday's loss in Dallas with injuries. Marian Hossa didn't play due to the flu.
The rookie Corey Crawford is expected to start against Phoenix on Saturday. A Calder Trophy candidate, Crawford has only started two games on this current six-game road trip, posting a 1-1 record and allowing three goals in the two combined.
Ilya Bryzgalov will look to keep his hot streak alive when Phoenix hosts the Hawks on Saturday. After allowing nine combined goals against the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks, the big Russian has won three starts in a row, including those two shutouts.
While no one expected the Blackhawks to repeat easily, spending their season handicapped by the salary cap probably isn't what they had in mind. They enter Saturday's game three points behind the eighth place Calgary Flames. This makes the game even more important for Phoenix.
With the win, Phoenix can put a little more distance between themselves and the struggling Hawks. Sitting in seventh place, the Yotes are four points ahead of Chicago in the Western Conference.
At this point in the season, six looks a whole lot bigger than four.