Even though this is now the third tilt between Scum and the Hawks in just over the last two weeks, it still feels odd that it's taken this long in the season for the first visit to the detestable sore known as Detroit. Scum enters this morning's brunch affair 2 points behind the Hawks with a game in hand, and having split their last two games since crosschecking their way to a victory over the Hawks on Sunday. A 5-1 pants-shitting on the Isle was without Pavel Datsyuk, who returned just in time to assist on the late tying goal and convert in the shootout in Phoenix. We're now saying for the third time in 15 days- as Dats goes, so go Scum, as he still leads them with 44 points.
Not much else has changed in during the work week with this lot. Henrik Zetterberg is still having a slightly off year, but cannot be taken lightly. Johan Franzen is still a power play force and totally willing to take out his frustrations with being so heinously ugly on anyone under 6' tall. Career peckers Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler will undoubtedly score at least one frustrating goal at an inopportune time. And the for defensive corps, including heretofore infallible Nicklas Lidstrom will still be vulnerable with speed to the outside and hope that Jimmy Howard can clean up the mess, where he's dipped a little in his ability to do of late. The biggest change from the other two games will be that it will take place in the Joe, a place that Scum loyalists describe as being "intimate", "vintage", or "having character" in the same way a shady Craigslist ad will try to convince an out-of-towner that some shithole studio in Uptown is actually inhabitable. But Scum have been using that piss smell and those live boards to their advantage, going 17-3-3 at home, and just ripping off their 13th straight W in the shootout against Phoenix. It's quite clear that Babcock is using his last change to gain favorable matchups to avoid getting his d-pairs torched for a full 60. And Babs is about the only guy in the leagueas matchy-uppy as Quenneville.
As for The Men Of Four Feathers, after having dropped their fourth straight and losing Patrick Sharp in the tilt last weekend with Scum, they've since won their last two, albeit at home against two total popsicles in Columbus and Minnesota (at least of late). However, just as important as the standings points from those two games was where the scoring came from. In those two games, Viktor Stalberg produced four goals, Dave Bolland with 3 goals and 2 assists, and goals from Andrew Shaw, Jimmy Hayes, and yes, even the now demoted Ben Smith had a goal against the Jackets. So in other words, the secondary scoring has finally picked up some of the slack from Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Kane. Well, at least Toews and Hossa. Kaner has been fighting it offensively for about a month now, and with Sharp shelved, snapping out of it will be particularly advantageous now that the bottom 6 has come to life. He'll need to if the Hawks are to continue to trend upward against Scum this morning and San Jose tomorrow. They'll get help from Marcus Kruger, who's returning to the lineup after missing 7 games from his impeccably handled concussion. It's anyone's guess between which wingers Kruger will start, but it'd be an upset if Hossa didn't find himself on Kruger's right before too long. Elsewhere, the lineup remains the same on the blue line and in the cage, with Crow presumably starting today, though no word has leaked yet.
Thanks to the NHL's paint huffing schedule makers, there's really not too much more to say here at this point; we all know the drill. Stay out of the box, speed to the outside, and make smart passes. Three is better than two. Let's go Hawks.