Out On The Isle: Hawks at Islanders Preview/Pregame Thread/Mercenary Meeting

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GAMETIME: 6pm Central
TV/RADIO: CSN, WGN Radio
BEING THE BEACON: Lighthouse Hockey

Yeah, I used the same title at NBC, but it's my second favorite Zeppelin song and this is probably the last time I'll get to use it in a title. Just go with me on this.

Anyway, the Hawks seek to right the wrongs of last Friday's meeting where they were utterly horsed by the Isle in the 3rd period en route to a shootout win that can be somewhat attributed to Matt Moulsen finding metal instead of twine on the final attempt. After that game, I as well as others indulged is some good ol' fashion baying at the moon. Everything was a mess, changes needed to be made, we're all losing our minds and so on. Of course, 24 hours later the Hawks fisted the Blues in St. Louis, and we felt much better.

But here's the thing: The Hawks should have entered the 3rd period last Friday with a 3-0 lead. But thanks to Corey Crawford's struggles and two pretty terrible goals to let in (the worst being the rebound that was essentially chum to Kyle Okposo), the Hawks were in a much tighter game than they realized. The Hawks seemingly paid attention to the flow of play and thought they could coast on in to port, whereas the Isles paid attention to the scoreboard and knew they had a shot and played like it. Such is the way, and either way it wasn't pretty to watch. Because of that though, there should be little chance the Hawks take the Isles lightly tonight, which they have in the past.

Long Island hasn't come down since though. Matt Moulson poured in four in a win in Dallas, which is not the easiest thing to do these days. Maybe the Isle felt at home playing in front of a couple hundred disinterested viewers again. They backed that up with a tonking of the thankfully now-mediocre Tampa Bay Lightning in the wasteland of Long Island (if you've dated a Long Island girl, you'll understand that) 5-1. They haven't lost in regulation in the last five games, and if nothing else are having a good time.

They do have injury concerns. Andrew MacDonald and Mark Eaton are out, as is forward Nino Nieddereiter with a concussion after Mark Firstric's left his feet to make it look like he was going after a pinata. Michael Grabner, probably the second biggest threat from the wing next to NBA JAM on fire Moulson, is a doubt with a groin problem.

The Hawks have no injury concerns, and we already know that Emery gets the start. in Emery's appearances since whatever that was in Edmonton, the Hawks have simply been more solid in front of him. Whether that means they trust him more or less than Crawford, I really have no idea. But this i the right decision.

The Hawks haven't won in Nassau since before it even mattered if they did or not. There's little chance the Hawks won't be up for this one, as they now know what can happen against this team if they're not. While the Isles are still feeling good about themselves, the talent gap and some erosion on the blue line should still lead the Hawks to numerous chances. Unless Montoya steals it, which he's completely capable of, think the Hawks turn this one into the easy ride in the park that the last one should have been.

But I'm smarter than to bet on that.
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