GAMETIME: 6:30pm Central
TV/RADIO: CSN, WGN Radio
Tesla Coil: Raw Charge
The end of the Dad's trip, which I bet some players are looking forward to as the distraction can't be ignored along with the fun. It ends where one of last year's most infuriating games took place. That was the night Dave Bolland was lost due to a cheap shot elbow from the useless Pavel Kubina, and the night that Douchey Smurf Martin St. Louis won the shootout with a blatantly illegal spin move where he moved backwards a good five feet. Oh, and there were various other bullshit calls if I recall. That was followed up by the Hawks unable to dent this vaunted Guy Boucher "system" at home a month later, sending the Hawks playoff hopes to the projects.
Things are a bit different now. Dave Bolland is healthy. The Hawks are deeper. And the Lightning have had their problems. They're 5-5-2. They've sixth in scoring, but fourth from bottom in goals-against. Some of that can be attributed to Dwayne Roloson finally acting his age. I know, I can't believe the geniuses that are Boucher and Steve Yzerman weren't immediately able to coerce another season of brilliance from a 42-year old, being such a solid fucking plan and all. It's the simplicity that's beauty of it, if I understand it correctly. Consequently, Mathieu Garon has been getting as many starts, but we saw in our division in Columbus what happens when you have to trust Garon too much.
But it can't all be on Garon. The Ning are surrendering 32 shots per game, four more than the trap from Mars that only Boucher can decode let up last season. Then again, when you're counting on Eric Brewer and Marc-Andre Bergeron heavily, these things might happen. And I don't care what Bergeron's point total is, because the dude is a bull ride in his own zone and always has been. Shockingly, they haven't been backed up by Hobey Gilroy, if you can block out the laughter from Rangers fans.
No word on Duncan Keith yet. If he does go, he and Leddy have to be separated tonight. Forget for a moment how much more comfortable Leddy looked with O'Donnell playing centerfield. The Hawks have two trap-busters, so there's no sense in grouping them. If Keith doesn't go, well then it's not a problem and Montador and Lepisto will have to show off their more aggressive sides.
Either way, the Hawks are going to have to be miles tighter in their own zone tonight. As McClure said last night, letting 43 shots to the Stamkos, Lecavlier, St. Louis, Purcell and Company Death Squad will set off a lot of Tesla Coils tonight. Corey Crawford goes again, as Q wasn't ready to let Razor deal with that St. Louis-to-Stamkos one-timer and quite frankly I don't think I want to see it either just yet.
This is a struggling team, and the Hawks aren't. And this isn't that hard of a system to break down if you're disciplined and patient. Chipping a puck just past the guy on the boards in the "3" of the 1-3-1, and then beating that last 1 to it should yield benefits. But trying to navigate it like the Merry Men after a rich man is going to see a lot of turnovers going the other way with too many snipers to bury those rushes.