This is the second year in a row the NHL has scheduled the Blackhawks to play in Phoenix during baseball spring training.
The league knows what it's doing -- well, at least for pumping up Phoenix attendance, it does. The Coyotes, despite being a very good team and five points ahead of the Blackhawks in the Western Conference playoff race, are second-to-last in the NHL in average attendance, only 11,745 per game. They're guaranteed a sellout tonight, because thousands of Chicago baseball fans, in town to see White Sox and Cubs games, will don their red Blackhawks jerseys and show up at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale to cheer on the Hawks.
The Hawks need that. After an eight-game winning streak that brought them to fourth place in the conference, they've lost four of their last five, including a poorly-played shutout Thursday at the hands of the Dallas Stars. The Hawks are now tied with the Predators at 84 points for seventh place in the conference, only one point ahead of the Flames and Ducks. With only 10 games left after tonight, three of them against the arch-rival Red Wings, the Hawks had better start winning -- now.
They've recalled Ben Smith from Rockford for tonight's game. It starts at 7 p.m. CDT and it'll be on WGN (Chicago only).