TV/RADIO: WGN for both
Vancouver Vuvuzela: Nucks Misconduct
Ok, after tonight no more riot jokes. But this is the first meeting this season so we can pile them in all we want today.
There's just a different charge in the air on the day of a big hockey game, and it's even more crisp when it's your blood rival in town. You can't sit still all day, oxygen feels like it's got a bit of electricity in it, the world just seems a bit angrier or boiling up. And we love it. That's why we watch and follow this sport so closely. Nothing else is like it.
The powder keg on Madison tonight will see the visit of a heavily stumbling defending Western Conference Champ (yet another meaningless banner they can raise). The Schmucks are 6-7-1. They've lost the last two games of this road trip they're on, and they haven't looked good doing it. They got pecker slapped in St. Paul by the Wild, with the 5-1 scoreline making it look closer than it was (the 45-25 shot count might tell a better story). They were better at the DrinkScotch Center on the wrong side of the Mississippi, but still came up short 3-2 when they let Inglorious Backes alone in the slot late in the 3rd.
There are a few reasons that the blue and green caravan is off by the side of the road at the moment. Injuries are one, as Ryan Kesler missed the start of the season, Mason Raymond hasn't played yet, and Alex Burrows and Sami Salo will miss tonight (Sami Salo hurt?! HEAVEN FOR FEND!) But that wouldn't account for it all. This defense is children's finger paint right now. Dan Hamhuis (he got dis) and Alex Edler have been solid, but the rest of it? I can't tell you how much joy I get from Kevin Bieksa returning to clown-with-a-head-injury form right after signing a lucrative new deal this summer. He's been awful. The rest of the crew is Andrew Alberts, Alex Sulzer, and Keith Ballard. You can't make chicken salad out of burned tires. Remember what geniuses the Canucks were when they got Ballard? No? Yeah, me either.
As for the Hawks, Duncan Keith is out again, which means the mish-mash defense they've been sporting the past two games gets another run out. It's unlikely that Q will switch up the pairings, so we'll just have to watch Leddy and O'Donnell in their own zone from behind our seat or couch. If Q wants to change it up, look for Montador to get paired with Leddy, but that's a long shot. Most likely, the skittish Seabrook and Hammer will draw the Sedin assignment. It could be worse. As dangerous as Thing 1 and Thing 2 are, they aren't the swiftest around which is what has given 4 and 7 problems.
Doubtful that anything is changed among the forward corps. Oh, mentioned this on July 1. Andrew Brunette crushes the Canucks, with 57 points in 66 career games. This is also partly why Car Bomb and Jammer are here. Carcillo especially could turn into the most interesting man in the world tonight, with a brief history dealing with Maxim Lapierre in the Eastern Conference. Hopefully a full out demon or serpent doesn't bust out of Car Bomb and cost the Hawks dearly in penalty minutes.
The Hawks need to attack this defense. Get Kane, Hossa, and Sharp away from Hamhock and Edler, and they'll run riot around the rest of the Improv troupe that comprises the Canucks bottom two pairs. Unless of course Luongo has a great game, which he's actually done in the UC a few times, despite what you hear. With Burrows and Raymond out, that eliminates two of their better forecheckers, but that doesn't mean it'll be easy for the Hawks in their own zone. Jannik Hansen and Ryan Kesler are still running around, and we've had problems with them before. Unless of course Toews and Kesler finally just have that knife fight they've been threatening.
Bring it, punks.