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The Dogs Of Hell: Five For Howling
Obviously a good day if Wile E. makes two appearances two appearances on the blog.
Anyway, the Hawks head to Glendale tonight to take on the defiance of logic that have been the Phoenix Coyotes the past couple years. The Yotes themselves are 2-1-1, and have been a bit of a party group the last two games, scoring nine goals against the Preds and Jets. As we all know, these games are rarely fun for the Hawks, usually resembling a rugby match in the rain.
Let's start with the men in white tonight. The "Where's Marian" children's book is in full effect, as he's once again a game time decision. He says it's based on how he feels a few hours after the morning skate, which leads one to believe it's a pulled or strained muscle of some kind. Any kind of bruise or break always hurts, and is either healed or not. But it sounds more like he'll play tonight then he won't, which is the opposite of Saturday. If he does go, $3 million doorman Rusty Olesz will lose out and Viktor Stalberg will move to the fourth line with Kruger and Mayers. I would be actually interested to see what Kruger and Stalberg can do together, though it's kind of an odd fourth line concoction. Based on practice yesterday, if Hossa doesn't go then Olesz gets to prove why he's not a waste of time with Patrick Kane and Dan Carcillo.
Corey Crawford gets the start, and I wonder if Sami Lepisto doesn't get a run out against a former team that's pretty quick and puck handling is of the utmost importance. No one expects Old Donald to run 75 games this year, so Lepisto is going to need a look at some point.
Anyway, the Dogs of the Desert. Shane Doan (in my dreams a Hawks in March) is off to a blazing start with seven points in four games. He's been running with Ray Whitney and the always under-appreciated but somehow overpaid Daymond Langkow. Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson are a nifty top pairing. Past that? Boy, I can't help you. Dave Tippett is once again going to have to do it with a pair of fake legs in a box and a couple body doubles hidden under the stage, but this time there won't be the ultimate trump card in Ilya Bryzgalov. Teams have tried to trust Mike Smith and Jason Labarbera before, and those teams ended up crying into their beer. But then again, I can't sit here and doubt whatever is the magic gas that's been passing through the Yotes dressing room of late.
Radim Vrbata or Adrian Aucoin will score some annoying goal, if not both. Martin Hanzal will be massive and probably lean all over Jonathan Toews. Oh, and if there's retribution to be delivered to Raffi Torres, they can get that done tonight. Wouldn't be shocked if Seabrook does it himself, but with his concussion history I'd prefer he didn't. And the Yotes will continue to be the Borg, with contributions coming from everywhere from guys you wouldn't be able to separate from each other.
The funny thing about the Yotes last year is that they were kind of middling in defense. 13th to be exact, to go with the 14th in goals for. I can't see how the goals-against gets better without Bryz and Jovo Cop now. Their penalty kill and power play were both pretty porous last season as well. But they were +24 at even-strength, even while getting outshot by two per game. Leads you to believe it had a lot to do with goaltending and some luck, no?
We know they'll skate for 60 minutes, so this Hawks approach of "We'll check in when we feel like it" we've seen the past two efforts won't really work. Their breakouts will have to be clean, we know the Yotes like to buzz on the forecheck and through the neutral zone. These home-run-chicks-dig-the-long-ball-Hollywood passes they've been opting for lately go out tonight. Bring the lunch pale.