Blackhawks Struggles At Home Continue As They Lose To Coyotes At The UC, 2-1

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ANALYSIS: Blackhawks Missing Stanley Cup Spark; Duncan Keith Benched For 'Poor Play'

Dustin Byfuglien. Brent Sopel. Colin Fraser. Kris Versteeg. Ben Eager. Andrew Ladd. Adam Burish. Antti Niemi.

Eight key contributors from the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup championship team are now playing elsewhere in the NHL — several of them dispatched to the Atlanta Thrashers just two weeks after the Cup was won by the Hawks in Philadelphia on June 9.

This isn’t the Blackhawks’ fault — obviously, they’d have loved to keep most if not all of those players. But NHL salary cap rules meant the Hawks had to divest some players in order to keep stars like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

The early returns show it’s not working. The Hawks lost only eight games at home all last season. After last night’s loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, they are 4-7 at home this year, and at one point last night, coach Joel Quenneville got so frustrated he benched Duncan Keith:

Keith’s defensive miscues prompted Joel Quenneville to bench his Norris Trophy winner the last 3:53 of the second period. Keith ended up playing a season-low 20:55.

“Everybody has stretches when they’re on top of their game and they’re at their best and some games where you’re looking to try to keep yourself in the game and get through it when you can better yourself,” Quenneville said of Keith. “He can be better.”

When asked if he had benched his star defenseman for poor play, Quenneville replied, “Yeah.”

The Hawks will soon embark on the two-week “Circus Trip”. The way they’ve played at home so far, maybe being away will help them find the right combination. They’ll visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.

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Hawks First Period Goal By Bickell Is Their Only Score On The Night

Chicago, IL (Sports Network) – Jason LaBarbera stopped 35 shots to help the Phoenix Coyotes take a 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.

Eric Belanger and Kyle Turris scored 35 seconds apart in the second period for the Coyotes, who came into the game having lost three straight and four of five.

Bryan Bickell scored the lone goal for the Blackhawks, who have lost four straight games in front of their home crowd. Marty Turco was tagged for both goals on 22 shots.

The Blackhawks took the initial lead in the game at the 9:22 mark of the first when Troy Brouwer threw a shot on net that Bickell redirected past LaBarbera for his third goal of the year.

At the 6:23 mark of the second, Phoenix tied the game as Wojtek Wolski stickhandled his way past a Blackhawks defender and from the low left side threw it across the goalmouth where Turris redirected it in.

Moments later, the puck got behind the Chicago pointman in the Phoenix end and Belanger caught up to it. He skated down the right wing on a 2-on-1 break and opted to shoot from the right circle where he blew it past Turco for a 2-1 lead.

LaBarbera stopped 12 shots in the middle frame then made 10 saves in the third to help Phoenix hang on for the win.

The Coyotes took three of four from Chicago last season…The Blackhawks play in Nashville on Saturday…Phoenix hosts Calgary on Friday…Chicago center Dave Bolland missed his sixth contest in a row because of a rib injury…There was just one power play in the game and it belonged to Chicago, which failed to score on the opportunity.

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Chicago Blackhawks Vs. Phoenix Coyotes Preview: Patrick Kane To Right Wing

The Blackhawks only lost eight regular season games at home last year (29-8-4 record), but have already dropped six of the first ten at the United Center in the 2010-11 season. As a result, coach Joel Quenneville is going to shake up some of his lines and pairings:

In addition to moving Patrick Kane to left wing on a line with Marian Hossa and center Tomas Kopecky for the Hawks' game against the Coyotes on Wednesday night, coach Joel Quenneville plans to at times separate the top defensive pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

"Tonight we're going to try to find a little bit more balance in our pairs and our minutes," Quenneville said following the morning skate at the United Center. "Hopefully that makes everybody more effective and more consistent in our team game as well as their own games."

The Coyotes, 3-3-4 on the season, are in the final game of a three-game stretch playing the last three Stanley Cup champions (the Blackhawks, Red Wings and Penguins). They lost in overtime to Detroit and lost to Pittsburgh in a shootout. Phoenix is without its arguably best player, Shane Doan, who is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Marty Turco is expected to start in goal tonight for the Blackhawks. The game begins at 7:30 p.m. CST and will be televised on CSN Chicago.

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