As fun as it was to beat the Flames again - this is the playoff rematch I think most people were looking forward to. We all remember towards the end of the regular season last year when the Hawks hosted the Canucks in a game that could have decided who grabbed the 4th spot in the playoffs... The Blackhawks shat the bed in a spectacular fashion and lost 4-0. And of course there was also the now famous line brawl complete with hair-pulling...
So when the teams squared off in the playoffs - we were nervous. We all know the outcome of that series though... just check out the pictures above.
Those games are on the past though - so lets move on to tonight. We're going to be watching two pretty different teams tonight then we did last spring. We know that Antti Niemi is getting the start tonight but we also just found out that Brent Sopel will be a healthy scratch tonight and we'll get our first look at Jordan Hendry. When I told McClure this news his response was "fuck yes"... so there are plenty of people who are excited about this move There was word going around that Sopel missed a practice for "personal" reasons earlier this week so who knows why Q decided to pick this game but to hear his quotes in Kuc and Sassone's articles it sounds like the just wanted to get Hendry some ice time. Either way, it should be interesting to see him get some time, even though from a defensive standpoint - it should be Barker sitting instead of Sopel. Barker was likely saved a game from the press box due to the offense he can bring from the blue line that Sopel can't.
We'll also get to see our first of Andrew Ebbett in the Hawks uniform. Unfortunately it's going to be at the wing on the fourth line which means not only is he playing out of position but he's also playing on a line that he has no business being on... godspeed you tiny hockey player, you.
Enough about the Hawks - lets look at our good ol' friends, The Nucks... well.. they're a mess right now. They're 3-5-0 and have yet to win a game on the road. Surprisingly, it's lack of scoring that is causing problems for the Nucks. They're currently 18th in the league in goals per game even though they're 2nd in shots per game. It's not helping that one the Sedin twins is out for tongiht... good luck figuring out which one just by looking at him though. Also questionable for tonight's game is Rick Rypien though that's hardly a big loss. Rypien is a fourth-line guy who likes to fight but with Eager and Burish both out for the Hawks, I'd expect the Nucks to rest Rypien, unless they really want someone to pick a fight with Byfuglien... which is very possible.
Now on to, Roberto Luongo... Well, Bobby Lou is off to another slow start though this one seems worse than the others. He's got a .879 SV% and 3.22 GAA... which is yet another reminder to everyone that Huet isn't the only goalie that's struggling out of the gate. I don't hear many Nucks fans calling for a trade of their captain.
The Nucks aren't going to stay this bad for long and this would be a perfect game for them to rebound and kickstart their season.. likewise the Blackhawks will want to turn things around from a disappointed loss in their last home game and give the crowd something to see. As Hockee Night pointed out - in a lot of interviews it sounds like the Hawks defensemen circled this game on their calenders so expect a fun game.