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Here Comes The Neighborhood - Avs @ Hawks

Quebec-nordique_medium VS Images_medium

Time: 6:30 Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN720
Opposition Blog: Mile High Hockey
Now the season finally feels like it's starting doesn't it? Tonight, the Hawks make United Center debut against the Colorado Avalanche in front of what's sure to be a raucous crowd on Madison St. Once again, prior to the game the Blackhawks will be making a red carpet enterance, in spite of the facts that a) they didn't win anything last year b) it was a distraction for the team c) became somewhat of a point of mockery for other teams, and most importantly, d) is severely inconveniencing Sam selling the Indian. He'll plans be at his usual outpost by the way, outside of Gate 3, that is unless the UC Gestapo have other plans.

On to the actual game. The Hawks are coming off a difficult loss to Scum in a game in which they outplayed the Wings in every aspect except one - goaltending. Frankly, Cristobal Huet has to be better, and the Hawks aren't realistically asking for lights out performances nightly. Just don't shit your pants when it counts. So far, he hasn't even been able to pull that off. Here's hoping that ship gets righted tonight against a team that lacks offensive depth. In the first three games, though, there's not much else to complain about as far as the play of the team. Patrick's Sharp and Kane have been playing like men possessed, Kris Versteeg has looked impressive, and John Madden is showing there's still quite a bit of gas left in the tank. And on the defensive side of things, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson have looked very physical to start, which is a good thing. Dave Bolland is also scheduled to make his return to the lineup tonight, which is definitely a good thing.

The Avs have gotten off to a 2-1 start behind the strong play of Park Ridge's finest (no, not Mike North), Craig Anderson. The hometown boy has finally gotten a chance to be a starter in the league, and so far he's making the most of it, allowing a total of 5 goals in those three starts. Elsewhere, though, the Avs are very much in rebuild mode. The line of Wojtek Wolski, Paul Stastny, and Milan Hejduk is still always a threat when they're on the ice, and third overall pick Matt Duchene has made the jump to the show without batting an eye. Other than that though, this is a very very thin lineup.

It's clear who the better team is in this matchup, it's just up to the Hawks to go out there and actually show it. Barring Craig Anderson standing on his head (which has happened to the Hawks twice in three games already), there should be a positive outcome tonight. However, we said the same thing last March, when the Hawks lost to the Avs in one of their most putrid games of the season. Let's not repeat that, shall we?

Projected Line-Up:

Versteeg - Toews - Sharp
Byfuglien - Bolland - Kane
Ladd - Madden - Brouwer
Kopecky - Fraser - Skille

Let's Go Hawks