Game Time: 8:00PM CST
TV: Comcast Sportsnet, NHL Network
A Bunch of Jackals: Five For Howling
THE PLACE TO BE: The Bottom Lounge - 1375 W Lake, Chicago
How quickly things change. First I'm strictly verboten from writing the previews because the Hawks weren't winning when I did, and then I write one that breaks a slump, and now I have to write tonight's preview. So if things end up shitty, blame me.
Speaking of rapid reversals of fortune, look no further than tonight's opponent in the Phoenix Coyotes. Left for dead by their ownership and coach alike this summer, they're now crashing the party at the top of the Western Conference and Pacific Division. The Desert Dogs are now only three points behind the Hawks and Sharks with 93 points, and 7 wins in a row. And they've basically done so as the West's answer to the Buffalo Sabres. Sam and I have talked about this, and as far as their forwards go, they're all basically the same guy, except they're a little bit more bigger and rugged in Glendale, led by the model of consistency that is Shane Doan. Their blue line is for the most part spare parts from other teams (the Hawks in particular). Keith Yandle is a blossoming dynamic presence from the back end, so keep an eye out for them. And the entire operation is held together by the solid goaltending of Ilya Bryzgalov. New addition Lee Stempniak has been playing like he's not Lee Stempniak since he got there, making Blues and Leafs fans alike rip fistfuls of hair out of their scalp. The whole operation is led by the guiding hand of coach Dave Tippett, who is as close a thing to a shoe in as there is for the Jack Adams trophy as coach of the year.
For our Men of Four Feathers, they're headed into the desert coming of a gutty win against the Kings with a depleted blue line corps that featured names of Boynton, Hendry, and Byfuglien that held LA to 17 shots. Brent Seabrook skated with the team today, but I personally would be surprised if he dressed this evening. Despite the Hawks jockeying for position at the top of the conference, I don't think the situation is as dire as it could be to rush Biscuit back. This is also the first time that we'll truly notice Brian Campbell's absence, as the Coyotes play a very disciplined defensive game, and Soupy's speed through the neutral zone will be sorely missed. Antti Niemi gets the start tonight, and Cristobal Huet will back him up after getting over his bout with the flu, as Corey Crawford has been sent back to Rockford. It appears that the forward corps will look the same, and hopefully we see something similar to what happened Thursday in LA, as Quenneville was able to roll all four lines confidently.
But now onto the REAL news.....
Tonight marks our first ever road watch at the Bottom Lounge, where there will be drink specials abound from Hobgoblin beer, and Crystal Head vodka for you to get your damn drink on with. There will be a giant TV for the game and great food as well. Sam and I will be there from about 7PM on, so swing by. It's Saturday night, and I know you're not getting up early tomorrow, so from where I sit, there are very few excuses that are acceptable for not being in attendance. As we've hammered into you all week, the Bottom Lounge is located at 1375 W. Lake St. in the west loop, basically at Ogden and Lake. They do have a parking lot and the street parking is free and permit-free around the area, and for you CTA users, it's about a block and a half away from the Ashland green line stop. You know it's an EVENT when the NHL network picks up this as the Saturday night game, so it's as good an occasion as any to get out and meet your fellow pantsless internet friends.