OK - stop me if you've heard this one before. Kane, Toews and Havlat walk into an arena to play a central division rival desperate for points to lock up their playoff chances... and then she says "Those aren't buoys"
Just so we're all clear - the Blue Jackets can shore up their first ever playoff appearance with just one more point. But this is nothing new. The Hawks have won 4 games in a row against teams desperate for points in a push to make the playoffs (including these Blue Jackets). The two victories against the Preds in the past week could very well have sunk their chances for 5 years in a row. So as has been the case for over a week now, The Hawks are playing a hungry team.
And sure, the Hawks have locked up their playoff appearance already but tonight's game also has some significance for the men of four feathers.
With Calgary's loss to Vancouver last night, both of those teams sit at 96 points and two games left. So the maximum number of points either of those teams could get is 100.
The Hawks sit at 99 points with 3 games left. 101 is all that's needed to make sure which ever team ends up not winning the Northwest won't be able to catch them and the Hawks will have home-ice in the first round.
Having seen Columbus on Sunday, we know exactly what to expect. They've got a stud goalie who the Hawks really cannot figure out how to beat and a defense that's very capable of choking all the fun out of hockey.
The Power Play is a big concern at the moment and could be key for tonight. The PP has looked like shit for a while now, specifically on Sunday though, the Jackets stacked the blue line while the Hawks refused to dump the puck and chase it in.
The Hawks have been lucky recently - I'm not even going to try to look up statistics but I imagine you don't see many 4 game win streaks where a team is 0 for everything on the power play. Hell, they have a short handed goal during this streak and nothing with the advantage.
Another key for tonight is making sure that somehow, Matt Walker watches from the press box. As McClure, Fifth Feather and Hockee Night, all point out - Walker sucks. How he's not only playing but getting more TOI than Barker or Hammer remains a mystery. It seems the Hawks have better options, yet the coaching staff must see something we all miss because Walker continues to suit up and cause major problems.
Huet is most likely getting the nod tonight with Khabby playing last night so pray that he can match up against Mason. The Hawks were able to generate a lot of chances on Sunday against the likely Calder winner but they were all denied or the Hawks simply choked - connecting on a few more of those would be aces.
UPDATE: I guess not - According to Sassone - it's Khabby getting the start tonight despite playing last night. Interesting...
All three writers are off to the game tonight so expect a delayed wrap tonight. Also look for us selling The Committed Indian on various sidewalks surrounding the UC. Don't be afraid to stop by and say hello (ask for Sam or Matthew if the seller gives you a blank stare) but make sure you have $3 on hand - exact change is greatly appreciated.
Lets Go Hawks