Game Time: 7:30 PM Central
Skates In The Crease: Defending Big D
What a hell of a night of hockey we have today. 22 teams - 11 games and tons of playoff implications on the line. Even though the Hawks have clinched the Central, there's plenty more work to be done. With a win in regulation, the Hawks will have wrapped up at least the second overall spot in the West. Two points also will tie up the Sharks total now, of course, San Jose will face the Flames a little an hour after the Hawks faceoff. If the Hawks want the first overall spot, it's up for grabs, but it could require winning out the rest of the season... or at least matching up with the Sharks.
The Hawks record against the Stars this year is less than exemplary. We all remember the Stephane Robidas goal against Huet in the first matchup. The second didn't go much better as Huet was chashed but the third the Hawks finally found a way to beat the Stars in the third match-up... even if it did take a 5-round shootout. There's probably very little surprise that Niemi was the goalie in the last game and he'll be starting tonight.
The other big news tonight is that Q is once again shuffling the lines.. but this time because Troy Brouwer has "family issues", according to Kuc. He didn't make the trip out with the team and Adam Burish will be taking his spot in the lineup. No word on if that means Burwood will be skating on a line with Bolland and Kane though. McClure and I discussed who would be moving up the second line and thought Eager would be best. With Tomas Kopecky finally stepping up his game, he's certainly deserving of a promotion. But as Sam has mentioned, he seems to be the force that's making the fourth line go. Whether that's just because he's getting lucky and being the right spot, or he's benefiting in playing with a true center like Fraser remains to be seen. Regardless, it'd be a shame to break up a line that's really working right now. Eager seems to be the most replaceable part in it at the moment. So if Burish does move to the fourth line, Eager should be the one that gets the jump up to the second... even if he is undeserving.
As for the Stars tonight - they're wrapping up a pretty miserable season. They haven't won three games in a row all season long. Marty Turco's time is pretty much over with Dallas and Matt Climie will be getting the first start of the year. Defending Big D is saying Brenden Morrow is out with a foot injury. They're eliminated from the playoffs but aren't close enough to be in the lottery for a fantastic draft pick. This could also be the last time the Hawks ever skate against Mike Modano. The all-time leading American goal scorer and points leader will take part in a special ceremonial face-off with Patrick Kane and Jim Craig. So I guess the Hawks aren't the only team that loves to put on a show before the game actually starts..
Lets Go Hawks