NHL on NBCSN: Blackhawks open lengthy homestand vs. Coyotes

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyoteas at United Center at 8:30 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

By their own lofty standards, the Chicago Blackhawks have been just OK so far in 2014-15, but Monday begins their big chance to make a run for the Central Division crown.

(As far as it seems away today, with the Nashville Predators ahead by eight points.)

The Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes to begin an eight-game homestand that serves as a great opportunity to make up ground. Here’s that upcoming slate of games:

Monday: vs. Arizona
Wednesday: vs. Vancouver
Friday: vs. New Jersey
Sunday: vs. Pittsburgh
Feb. 18: vs. Detroit
Feb. 20: vs. Colorado
Feb. 22: vs. Boston
Feb. 24: vs. Florida

With all of those contests at the United Center (not to mention no back-to-back sets unless you count today), the Blackhawks could at least position themselves to rest some players late in the season if they can’t do much about their seeding position.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Monday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

While the Blackhawks have been up and down over the big picture, they’ve won two games in a row. They’re also not that far removed from throttled the Coyotes in Chicago by a score of 6-1 on Jan. 20.

With two straight losses and only five wins in 2015, the Coyotes seem like a vulnerable opponent on paper, although their collective confidence should almost certainly be considerably higher than the last time these two teams met.

If nothing else, Mike Smith has to be feeling better about his play, as he’s at least looked like a respectable starting goalie in February.

The Blackhawks are coming off of a 4-2 win against the St. Louis Blues from Sunday, so Arizona can add the rest advantage. On paper, this seems like a mismatch, but there are a few signs pointing to this contest being closer than many might expect.

Can Chicago build up some momentum with the season starting to wind down? We’ll see on NBCSN tonight.