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Logan Cooley vs. Connor Bedard headlines Coyotes vs. Blackhawks

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In one of the most anticipated games of the Arizona Coyotes’ (3-4) season, the Chicago Blackhawks (3-5) have traveled to Tempe to square-off inside Mullett Arena tonight, showcased by two rookie phenoms in the NHL: Logan Cooley vs. Connor Bedard.

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Last time out, the ‘Yotes were up 4-1 in the first period against the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 27, but gave up 4 unanswered goals and lost 5-4.

The collapse against LA handed the Coyotes their second-straight defeat and Arizona will look to get back on track as they face a Central Division foe in the ‘Hawks.

Looking at their record, 3-5 isn’t the most eye-popping for Chicago since they are in a full-scale rebuild.

But, when looking at their schedule, the Blackhawks have been served up with a gauntlet as six out the eight games they have played were against teams that made the postseason in 2022-23.

Shockingly, all three wins that Chicago has won when they were heavy underdogs in each one.

First, they opened their season against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pennsylvania and won 4-2 on Oct. 10.

Then on Oct. 16, the ‘Hawks silenced Scottsdale native Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs crowd with a 4-1 victory.

In their most recent contest, Chicago visited T-Mobile Arena, aka “The Fortress.” in Las Vegas.

Surprisingly, they snuck out with a 4-3 overtime win versus the Golden Knights on Nevada Day, Oct. 27.

With the ‘Yotes trying to forget about what happened a few nights ago while ‘Hawks wanting to continue their momentum off their last victory, tonight’s game is in-line for being a spectacle at “The Mullett.”

Rookie Battle

When the 2023-24 NHL schedules were released, tonight’s matchup should have been circled on everyone’s calendars.

Because, when the top-2 prospects in the league square off, it is bound to be must-watch tv.

For Arizona, 2022 #3 overall NHL Draft pick Logan Cooley has been a bright piece to the Coyotes future.

Coming off his freshman year last year at the University of Minnesota where he had 60 points in 39 games, Cooley has 5 assists in 7 NHL contests for the “Desert Dogs” this season.

There is an argument to be made that Cooley should have been the #1 overall selection in his draft class based off of his quick adaption to the professional game.

In front of him, Montreal Canadiens’ Juraj Slafkovský (1st) and New Jersey Devils’ Šimon Nemec (2nd) haven’t made as big of an impact in the NHL as Cooley has, to this point.

On the other hand, the Blackhawks have a rookie phenom, and in some cases, a generational talent with Bedard.

Off the back of two-100+ point seasons in the Western Hockey League in with the Regina Pats, it’s fair to say that the 18-year-old is the real deal.

Additionally, Bedard showed-out for his home-nation of Canada in the IIHF World Juniors last winter as they took home gold with him having 23 points in only 7 games.

At the NHL level, Bedard is tied with Cooley in rookie points with 5 each as Bedard has a stat line of 3 goals and 2 assists in 5 contests.

With that all being said, it will be interesting to see who will cement themselves over the other tonight, and at the end of the season with the Calder Trophy for best NHL rook’ in the league up for grabs.

Other Notes

Furthermore, the Coyotes were without defenseman Travis Dermott and Lawson Crouse due to an undisclosed illness against LA on Oct. 27.

Tonight, Crouse will return to the lineup, but Dermott will remain out.

Former ‘Yotes defenseman Connor Murphy will be slated to play tonight for Chicago.

Meanwhile, another ex-Coyote, Blackhawks left winger Taylor Hall, is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

Currently, Coyotes wingers Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz still lead the team in points with 8 in 7 contests.

For Chicago, veteran Corey Perry has 4 goals and 2 assists for 6 points in 8 games.

Last season, Arizona was 2-1-1 against the Blackhawks in 4 matchups.

At United Center in Illinois, the ‘Hawks won 2-0 on Jan. 6 and 4-3 in overtime on Feb. 10.

However, former Blackhawk in Schmaltz had a goal and assist in the Coyotes’ 4-1 victory at Mullett Arena on Feb. 28.

Also, Keller and Arizona defenseman Juuso Välimäki both scored a goal and recorded two assists each on Mar. 18 in the 4-2 win in Tempe.

The game between the Coyotes and Blackhawks will be held at Mullett Arena tonight at 7 p.m.

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Alec Cipollini is a journalist covering the Arizona Coyotes, Cardinals and Phoenix Rising for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on his X account @AlecCipollini

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