Game Time: 6:00PM
Contemplating The Longest Season Ever: The Cannon
This certainly seems familiar, doesn't it? The last time the Hawks took on the Blue Jackets they were coming off a disappointing 3-0 loss. At the time, the loss to the Canes was first real blip on the season and the first garbage game we witnessed from the Hawks. While the 5-2 victory looks good, it was also a game that was tied going into the final frame before Rattlehead had his coming out party and scored two goals. We sighed with relief and assumed the shit had been righted.
Looking back on it now, I'm not so sure. Sure, the Hawks lost their last game by a score of 3-0 once again. That came after an even more disheartening 6-2 loss. Going back further though... we find the last time the Hawks played the Blue Jackets was also the last time they've won in regulation. Every other game has needed bonus hockey and skills competition or the Hawks have just looked dead on arrival.
This is the game where we really get to panic though. We can learn to handle two bad losses in a row. The Canucks, for all their douchebaggery, have plenty of skill. The Blues are always annoying and always give the Hawks a hard time. Losing those two games isn't excusable but it's at least in some way understandable.
Losing to the Blue Jackets tonight though, that is simply a bridge we cannot afford to cross. To call the Blue Jackets disappointing is to call Mila Kunis slightly-attractive. For all the whining, complaining, bitching and moaning (boo-fucking-hoo) we can do about the Blackhawks, things are far worse in Central Ohio. When we last saw them, they were at the bottom of the NHL in points and that's where they remain. The Jackets have so far racked up only 5 points in 14 games. They would need to double their point total just to catch the Islanders who are in 29th place.
The last game for the Jackets may have been the ugliest yet - a 9-2 curb stomping in Philadelphia. Since that game 4 days ago, the Jackets have decided to shake things up a bit. They recently added Mark Letestu in a trade with Pittsburgh. Letestu had a decent season last year with 27 points but has only 1 this year in 11 games with the Pens. This could be a sign that the Jackets realized that Jeff Carter simply isn't the center needed for alleged wiener tucker Rick Nash but that would have required the blonde one to actually play. Carter has been sidelined with a foot injury since Oct. 15th. It's unlikely that he'll be ready to play today though but it's at least something to keep an eye on the twitters for. (UPDATE - he's in)
The trouble remains in the net for the Jackets. Once phenomenal Steve Mason remains mired in a horrible state. The good news at least is that when he can keep the opposition to two or fewer goals, the Jackets have at least managed a point in the standings. More bad news though - he's only managed to do that three times so far. He's got the worst Sv% of any starting goalie and the 60th overall GAA. The Jackets also have league's worse GAA (3.71) despite having one of the better SA/G (27.9). No bueno. Mason was in the net for seven of the Flyers goal before the mercy killing.
As for the Hawks... well things aren't exactly where we want them still. John Scott and Steve Montador remain your third pair and it's causing brain bubbles for anyone with a healthy set of eyes and decent hockey sensibility. The Jackets once again will get the match ups they want and the idea of Rick Nash against these two strikes fear into my heart.
The forward lines once again get the blender treatment. Dave Bolland will be missing tonight's tilt after taking a shot to the leg and leaving in major pain. He came back last game so lets hope this is just precaution and a little rest. Taking his place as the center on the third line will be the Dream Warrior paired up with fresh off the top line Michael Frolik and Bryan Bickell. The third line isn't the only one seeing top line talent though, Andrew Brunette will be joining Jamal Mayers and Rusty Olesz. The top lines also see a bit of a switch with Hossa reuniting with Toews and Sharp moving to Kaner's wing. So at least the top two lines could be pretty fun to watch? Brunette is probably wasted on the bottom line but he hasn't exactly been producing much on the top line either. Still - he isn't suited for the fourth line style either and won't have much to help him break out of any slump.
So hold onto your butts folks - this one isn't going to be fun unless we can hear jungle drums early.
Also - Happy birthday to the United States Marine Corps - you don't look a day over 235 years old.