Game Time: 12:00 CDT
TV/Radio: NBC, WGN-AM 720
After Thursday's second consecutive shootout loss, the Hawks find themselves in someplace very uncomfortable. Now unable to begin the playoffs at their mall on West Madison, they'll be staring down a Scum squad in the final regular season game needing a regulation win to move up in the standings to the 5th seed, only to have the privilege of meeting Nashville next week. A loss of any kind or allowing the game to at all reach extra time keeps them relegated to the 6th seed, where they'll face the "winner" of the Pacific division, which is still yet to be determined.
Regarding this afternoon's opponent, while earlier in the season they had been Lafours on home ice, taking 460 collars (all convicted) and even two kills, things have gotten a bit uneasy lately, with the entire team seemingly coming down with a case of diphtheria. Even with numerous important pieces missing significant time down the stretch, a win today puts them in a position to start things out at the Dirt Mall on Lake Huron if they get some help from the now eliminated Avalanche
against the Preds. With this being the sixth meeting of the year between the two teams, and the Wings having played the same way for eons, there are no secrets regarding what needs to be done for a win. Their defensemen can be beaten with speed to the outside, and entry must be denied at the Hawk blue line to keep Pavel Datsyuk
, Henrik Zetterberg
, at bay. The jerk from Fashionable Male, that upscale wannabe shop on the second floor, Johan Franzen
will as usual go to the front of the net and punch a raincheck into someone far smaller than him when the zebras aren't looking, and ask Nick Leddy
who his favorite New Kid is.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, Jonathan Toews
has still not seen the goddamn sailboat and will not take the ice for the regular season finale. Word from practice yesterday was that Toews isn't feeling confident about his on ice symptoms either, which is quite discouraging. Either way, it's still likely better for him to sit out one last game with the Hawks locked into either 5 or 6 in the West and not wanting to take any chances. Dave Bolland
is also out this afternoon, after being back on the escalator again prior to Thursday's tilt in Minnesota. Patrick Sharp and his Swedish linemates, who had been running around like kids in Buy Me Toys up until this week, will need to be leaned on a little bit more heavily for offense if Patrick Kane
and Marian Hossa
are still figuring things out with Jimmy Hayes
with Andrew Brunette's continued absence as well. Corey Crawford will still start today, with the hope being that he continues his solid (read: adequate) play down the stretch. The lineup decisions from the captain on down through who gets the start in net seem to indicate what the coaching staff in its infinite brilliance is hoping to accomplish with today's game, and that's somewhat of a concession of the 5th seed, come what may out of the Pacific. So for those of you who have been sitting around for the last month at autonomous units for mid-mall snacking hoping to stay in the 6th seed, it appears that the coaching staff agrees with you.
Perhaps more important than any outcome in the standings from today's matinee is that the Hawk special teams actually begin to approach something in the same time zone as competence, as they will come into sharper focus next week, especially so against certain opponents. Whether this game is tanked for the sake of a "lesser" opponent or the Hawks stink-palm Scum to seal a date with the Preds is almost immaterial, as there are no easy paths through the West. Understanding is only reached through confrontation. Let's go Hawks.