Lets get this out of the way early - we probably won't (and shouldn't) see Jonathan Toews or Brent Seabrook tonight. Neither practiced yesterday and with Dowell being reassigned, I'm guessing we'll see him or some other IceHog hop on I-90 and get here before the start (Update - yeah, it's going to be Dowell tonight). Luckily, the Hawks are facing a schedule that isn't too horrible. The next game against a team with a winning record is November 5th against the Coyotes. The Hawks will miss Toews and Seabrook but can hopefully still grab some points while they're out.
Tonight though is obviously the return of Jesus Havlat Christ. I know he played a game here in the pre-season but that really doesn't count. Though of course it is a bit troubling that Havlat had two points in each of the pre-season meetings. In his final season, Havlat showed us he was able to elevate his game when he needed or maybe just when he wanted to - either way, he'll probably have quite a chip on his shoulder and there are plenty of examples of players doing their best against the teams that gave up on 'em.
As I said earlier though, the pre-season is just the pre-season. It doesn't matter. Remember how I brought up the fact that the Detroit Lions were 4-0 in the pre-season before going 0-16? Well the Maple Leafs had one of the best pre-seasons this fall (6-3-0) but are currently without a win (0-7-1). So I'm not sayin, I'm just sayin..
The Wild are having a pretty terrible go of it so far too though. With only 6 points they're at the bottom of the Western Conference. Havlat only has one goal so far and is a pretty terrible -8, which is second worst in the NHL for forwards. Even worse? 3 of 5 worst +/- ratings for forwards belong to Wild skaters (the other two are Predators). Mikko Koivu is a -9.. worst in the league. Not too surprising then that the Wild are win-less on the road (and have needed OT/SO to win at home). The last time the Hawks faced a team that was win-less on the road though things didn't go too well.
Last year the Wild pretty much had the Hawks number (winning 3 of 4) but with the departure of Lemaire we may actually see a hockey game that doesn't bore us to tears. Unfortunately the Wild seem to be struggling to adapt to this watchable style of hockey. So uh, what else to say about the Wild? Did you know that the Wild have two players who are 6'8" and 250+lbs? One is of course throwback enforcer Derek Boogaard who has played only 3 games so far this year and is questionable for tonight's game after a concussion, illness and lack of talent at anything other than punching people very very hard. The other is John Scott (not to be confused with Bon Scott) who uh.. yeah.. punches and hits people...
As for other news for the Blackhawks - Cristobal Huet will be getting his second start in a row and after a solid effort against the Predators. Lets hope to hear some actual genuine cheers for him to start the game. Huet has a .918 SV% and 2.14 GAA for his career against the Wild. I wouldn't hope for the Hawks power play to break its 3-game scoreles streak - the Wild have the second best penalty kill in the league.
Also - word is just in from Mirtle that Dowell is back tonight, so yeah, no Toews. We'll get the lines up here in a bit.
Lets Go Hawks