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Through the Fire and the Flames: Blackhawks and Flames Preview and GDT

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Time: 6:30 Central
TV/Radio: That Rodeo Channel, WGN720
OPPOSITION BLOG: Matchsticks & Gasoline, Flames Nation
Don't Forget: Your SPG Picks

Now the season starts to really get fun, eh? For the first time since 1996, the Blackhawks get to play a team they eliminated the season before. Almost fitting that it was the Flames they beat in the Conference Quarter-Finals. Of course, the Flames ended up winning that re-match 3-2 so we'll have to hope for a better result this year.

So now for tonight's game we get to see a Flames team that really only lost Michael Cammalleri but gained Jay Bouwmeester... there's good and bad to that though. Cammalleri had a career year for the Flames last year, 39 goals and 43 assists made Cammalleri a point per game player. And along with Jerome Iginla... well that was pretty much all of the Flames scoring. Other than those two, no one scored over 50 points for the Flames. So lack of scoring could be a problem for the team. And, the Flames did lose Jordan Leopold and the always familiar to Chicago, Jim Vandermeer and Adrian Aucoin. Of course the addition of Bouwmeester still gives the Flames a more than solid blue-line, especially when Cory Sarich returns from a foot injury.

Everything has been going right for the Flames so far this year, they won their first 4 games in a row giving them a western-conference leading 8 points. They just suffered their first loss on Friday, falling to the Stars. Before that the Flames had scored 4 goals or more in each their games and Miika Kiprusoff is still undefeated (Curtis McElhinney took the loss Friday). The Flames are doing all they can to make me look like an idiot for picking them to miss the playoffs, though I did warn you beforehand that I'm an idiot.

We're sure to hate Rene Bourque some more as he's off to a hot start with 7 points so far, especially now that there's no one like Burish to break a stick across his face... actually, I think Hammer has been practicing that move, so there's hope after all.

No word yet on what moves the Hawks are planning for this game. Eager is eligible to come off IR today, if not though, Skille could get a call up again from Rockford. If neither of those things happen though, the Hawks will be down a forward tonight and could possibly ask Jordan Hendry to fill in... which honestly couldn't be too much worse than how Skille looked in his 5 minutes of ice time on Saturday. After a pretty flat showing, I'd hope the Hawks come out with more energy but it also looks like the trend of facing a goalie on a hot streak will continue. All three writers for the site will be in attendence, so expect the recap to be delayed... play nice in the game thread.

UPDATE: Yup, as soon as I hit the "publish" button - it's announced the Skille has been recalled from Rockford. I'd expect similar lines to what we saw Saturday but of course it's Q... so who knows?

Projected Line-Up:

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

Lets Go Hawks