Arizona Coyotes

New Jersey Devils trade Taylor Hall to Arizona Coyotes

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USA Today

New Jersey Devils trade Taylor Hall to Arizona Coyotes

Well, it happened: The Devils have officially traded Taylor Hall, along with Blake Speers, to the Arizona Coyotes. 

Hall is set to hit free agency after this season, and with the Devils currently owning the second-worst record in the NHL (10-17-5), the timing of the move makes sense. And New Jersey got quite the haul (almost pun intended) from the 'Yotes, who shipped back two draft picks (2020 first, 2021 third) and three prospects (Nick Merkley, Kevin Bahl and Nate Schnarr) in exchange for Hall's services.

Still, it always stings to lose a player of his quality — though Hall is enduring something of a down year (and only played 33 games in the 2018-19 season), he's a former Hart Trophy winner and was an All-Star in his last full season, 2017-18.

Now, he's moving to the Western Conference. The Blackhawks lost to the Coyotes twice earlier this month, once in a shootout and then in a 5-2 rout four nights later. They'll get their first look at Hall and the surging 'Yotes on Feb. 1 in Arizona.

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks playoff hopes all but over after loss to Coyotes

Four takeaways: Blackhawks playoff hopes all but over after loss to Coyotes

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 1-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on Tuesday:

1. Dagger?

The Blackhawks had three critical matchups this past week: at Colorado, vs. Colorado and at Arizona. They needed to pick up at least four points to legitimately stay in the playoff hunt because both of those teams were ahead of them in the standings. Instead, they earned only two and allowed the Avalanche and Coyotes to combine for five of six points.

With the regulation loss, the Blackhawks went to bed on Tuesday five points out of the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference with six games remaining and three teams to jump. Their postseason hopes are all but over at this point.

2. Running out of gas

For the sixth straight game, the Blackhawks scored two goals or fewer. They've found the back of the net just nine times over that span and were shut out for the first time since Nov. 10 and third this season. While secondary scoring has been a challenge for most of the year, it's the horses that haven't gotten it done as of late.

Patrick Kane has been held off the scoresheet in seven of his past 14 games after recording at least a point in 20 straight and has one goal in his last 12 games. Alex DeBrincat has two goals in his past 12 games and is on a five-game point drought, which is now the longest of his NHL career. Dylan Strome is also pointless in five straight and goalless in 10 straight.

It starts and ends with the Blackhawks' top players. But to be fair, they carried a huge load all season long and it appears they've simply run out of gas down the stretch. All those heavy minutes add up, and when you're in a must-win situation for the final month, it's taxing both mentally and physically. This is why having depth is so important.

3. Penalty kill reaching all-time bad level

The Blackhawks' power play is in a nasty drought after it was scorching for months. We know that. But all season long the team hasn't been able to put together a strong stretch on the penalty kill, and it can't go unnoticed even during a time where lack of scoring is the focal point.

After giving up another power play goal, the Blackhawks' penalty kill percentage dropped to 73.1. If that number holds, it would be the worst percentage since 1988-89 when the Toronto Maple Leafs had a 72.7 percent kill rate. That was 30 years ago.

The Blackhawks' power play has bailed out the defensive struggles countless times this season. The same can't be said for the penalty kill. There needs to be a reciprocation when one isn't clicking, and it's been far too one-sided this season.

4. A low-risk game

In the first meeting on Oct. 18, the Blackhawks and Coyotes combined for five goals, 65 scoring chances and 28 high-danger chances, according to naturalstattrick.com. In the second on March 11 they combined for eight goals (the Blackhawks had seven of them), 41 scoring chances and 21 high-danger chances.

In the third? They combined for one goal, 42 scoring chances and 19 high-danger chances. But 24 of the 42 scoring chances and 13 of the 19 high-danger chances came in the third period. It was clearly a defensive battle between two teams that were focused on not giving up much and not making mistakes. Once the Coyotes scored, the game finally opened up. It must be close to playoff time.

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks keep playoff hopes alive with offensive explosion

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AP

Four takeaways: Blackhawks keep playoff hopes alive with offensive explosion

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 7-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center on Monday:

1. A complete victory

All season long the Blackhawks have preached playing a full 60 minutes. They'll often go through stretches where they look great, but somewhere in between there's usually a time where their play tails off and the complete effort isn't there. That wasn't the case on Monday.

From top to bottom, the Blackhawks played one their most complete games of the season and it came at a time where their backs are against the wall. They led in shot attempts (50-39), shots on goal (34-25), 5-on-5 scoring chances (25-10) and 5-on-5 high danger chances (14-4), according to naturalstattrick.com

"We haven’t been great at home as of late, so for us to be able to buckle down again and score some goals, I know everyone’s feeling good about ourselves," Brandon Saad said. "We’ve got a tough road trip and we look forward to the challenge ahead of us."

2. Brendan Perlini and a four-line rotation

The Blackhawks shook up their lines after they returned to Chicago from a three-game West Coast trip because they weren't satisfied with the balance they were getting. But Monday was exactly what they were looking for, and easily their best four-line rotation of the season.

All 12 forwards got on the scoresheet except for Dylan Sikura, who's still looking for his first NHL goal — although he did feed Jonathan Toews a stretch pass that led to his penalty shot goal. Perlini led the way with his first career NHL hat trick against his former team for his sixth goal in five games while Chris Kunitz, Patrick Kane, Saad and Toews each found the back of the net. All four lines scored, so there's not much more you can ask for.

"It’s obviously great," Perlini said. "I just wanted to get the win in general, but to do that was awesome. I’ll never forget that one. ... I had enough breakaways. God. And then I wait until the last second to do it. I think just keeping the fans on the edge of their seat."

3. Defense shuts it down again

Going into Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn't allowed one goal or fewer since Dec. 21. Two days later and they've done it in back-to-back games.

The Blackhawks gave up only 25 shots on goal, which is tied for their second-fewest of the season. And you could make a case it should've been a shutout with Arizona's lone goal assisted by the referee after a pass along the boards fell right into the lap of the Coyotes.

"I think we’re doing a much better job of sorting defensively," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "There’s much less scrambly, we’re patient, protect the middle of the ice, get pressure on the puck and then we’re out and creating offense off that. Hopefully we can continue."

Corey Crawford was solid again, although he didn't have to make many high quality saves. He's now stopped 50 of 52 shots in his past two contests for a save percentage of .962. 

"He’s our anchor," Saad said. "He’s incredible. He comes back, doesn’t miss a beat, creating offense out there, too. It’s pretty good to have him back. He’s been great and I know we all feel confident with him in the net."

4. Making history

The Blackhawks made history on Monday. For the first time since the 2000-01 season when Tony Amonte, Eric Daze and Steve Sullivan accomplished the feat, they have three 30-goal scorers in one season: Kane (41), DeBrincat (37) and Toews (30). The Blackhawks didn't have a single 30-goal scorer last season, with DeBrincat leading the way at 28 goals.

With 13 games to go, it's possible for the Blackhawks to get to four 30-goal scorers. Saad tallied his 22nd goal of the season and is eight away from hitting that mark. His career high is 31, set during the 2015-16 season in Columbus.

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