GAMETIME: 9pm Central
After breaking a four game win streak, the Hawks get a chance to start a new one tonight in Edmonton against an Oilers team that's lost four straight. In taking 16 of a possible 22 points in October, the Oil were probably about as jacked up as a pre-world wide web teen who had just stolen a top shelf, plastic wrapped magazine from the local Waldenbooks. Unfortunately for the copper n blue kids, Mom found the magazine under the mattress, and they've gone two and five since. Unlike the Men of Four Feathers, the Oilers are having trouble scoring and AARP Designated Driver, Nikolai Khabibulin, finished his communtiy service about 11 days ago, and hasn't been able to steal points for his young mates lately.
Despite their scoring struggles, Edmonton can roll four lines. With players like Nugent-Hopkins, Smyth, Eberle, and Belanger in their bottom six, all four Hawk lines will need to summon their energy on the second night of this back-to-back set. Neither of these teams play much of a physical game, and things could turn into a bit of a track meet, which is usually just fine with the Hawks.
A quick game if I may, which one of these is an NHL defenseman: Tom Gilbert, Theo Peckham, Ladislav Smid, Jeff Petry, Taylor Chorney, Colten Teubert? If you answered "all of them", you might be Steve Tambellini. Somehow that crop of Dmen is doing a decent job limiting shots against, but that probably can't be the case tonight if the Hawks want to leave Rexall Place with two more points in the standings. Khabi can be a rhythm goaltender, but he's just as susceptible to net traffic and good chances in tight as any other goalie.
The Hawks come in hoping to duplicate their effort from last Sunday's victory; they put 34 shots on the Bulin Wall and five got through. The Edmonton PK has been pretty stout, but the Hawks need to find a way to keep their powerplay going, as the success while on the man advantage was a big reason for all of those comfortable 3+ goal wins over the last week or so. Offensively speaking, I echo McClure thoughts that Sharp and Kane need to have a game; I mean, Hossa, Toews, and Stalberg can't pot two every night, right?
Duncan Keith needs to bounce back from last night's performance, and protect his goaltender from odd man rushes and quality chances. Edmonton is dead last in the league in shots/game (25.2) and can be shut down with a little want-to from the John Scott lead (surely you jest) Hawks D-corps I haven't heard confirmation on any of this, but I assume Seabrook and Frolik out, with Emery getting the start. Ray's been solid of late, here's to hoping that he stays hot.
Foley, Edzo and/or Konroyd based Predictions:
1) There will be discussion about how great the ice is at Rexall place, and how the players compare it to the pond hockey of their youth.
2) Ryan Smyth will score an annoying goal from 10 feet in with his wood bladed stick, prompting more "wood is good" shtick.
Four out of six on the Canadian leg of the Circus Trip would be nice, let's do this.