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Opposition Blog: Defending Big D
Don't Forget: Your SPG Picks
I know Killion has a nice little streak going writing the game previews, but since Sam will be hawking the Indian down at the UC, and I'll be getting my face melted at the Mastodon show at the Aragon, neither he nor I will be able to get the wrap. It wouldn't be fair to make Matt do both, and besides, it's high time I started pulling my weight around these parts. So if the Hawks find a way to piss down their leg tonight, blame me. I was raised Irish Catholic, and I work in I.T., so I know everything's my fault anyway.
Anyway, on to the game. The Hawks come into tonight's game in the midst of quite literally their best start of my lifetime, off to a 5-1-1 record for the first time since the 82-83 season. There are very few qualms with the way the skaters are playing at this point, though Cam Barker does need to shore up his defense quite a bit. Not only has he been careless with the puck, but he looks quite lead footed. Maybe the theory we had about him going through a pack of cowboy killers (Marlboro Reds to the uninformed) a day to give him his gravelly voice wasn't that far off base. Aside from that, as long as everyone else keeps up their game the way they have been outside of the first 10 minutes against Calgary, the Hawks should be able to dictate the pace to the Stars tonight.
The Stars come in tonight after a piss-poor effort against Boston in their own building last night. The 3-0 result in favor of the Bruins is not indicative of the play I observed, the Stars were lucky to have only given up three, and they barely got a sniff around Tim Thomas, even with Dennis Wideman sitting for the B's. One player who stood out for Dallas was rookie Jamie Benn. The youngster has gotten off to a good start with a goal and 4 helpers, playing at a +2 rate. He's got a lot of 2-way ability, displaying a willingness to back check consistently, and a quick release on his shot. Keep an eye out for him when watching tonight's tilt.
A few notes for tonight - according to the venerable Tim Sassone, Cristobal Huet will again get the start in net tonight. Cris looked solid against a sputtering Nashville offense, let's hope he continues getting back on track again tonight against Dallas. Given the amount of shots the Hawks have been allowing, only 20.1 per game- good for best in the league, he should only have to make a few key saves, but that's been the issue now hasn't it? Also per Sassone, those who have been pining (which is pretty much everyone) for Patrick Sharp to be taken off the point on the power play will get their wish. The whole plan of Sharpie being back there has been fucked since Jump St., because that position utilizes none of what Sharp does well, and exposes a lot of what he doesn't. Duncan Keith is slotted in to take Sharp's place at the point, with Sharp moving up front, likely bumping Tomas Kopecky off the unit.
This is another eminently winnable game for the Hawks, who need to be taking advantage of the home-heavy schedule early on. If Dallas skates the way they did last night in their first loss tonight, the Hawks will skate them out of the building. But any team with Brenden Morrow and even an aging Mike Modano on it is fully capable of turning it around the next night.
Let's Go Hawks