Even though the Blackhawks have 3 points already for the season - it doesn't quite seem like the Hawks season has really started yet, does it? Those games against the panthers were fun but with the foreign crowd and long gap between games, they still feel like pre-season.
Thankfully, tonight that all changes as the Hawks face the Red Wings in Detroit. The bad news keeps piling up though - half the team is injured already and from some reports, it sounds like a few of these could be serious. We already know Eager and Bolland have been ruled out for tonight's game, Bickell is in and the projected lines are:
Versteeg - Toews - Sharp
Byfuglien - Madden - Kane
Ladd - Kopecky - Smolenak
Bickell - Fraser - Brouwer
So the only line remaining from last Saturday's dominate win is the top line of Steeg-Toews-Shooter. Though, I'd give it only two full rotations of shifts before Coach Q changes everything. With so many of the starters out, we're sure to see more line-juggling, well...more than we're already used to seeing, that is. I'd much rather see Kopecky center the line between Buff and Kane, leaving Madden to continue to play a shut-down game with Ladd. As it stands now, Kane could be left without anyone to dish it too, Buff is better at ugly goals off rebounds and Madden just doesn't have the scoring touch he used to. Misuse of Kane's game if you ask me, which you didn't and probably wouldn't..
The Hawks have added some size to the roster with Bickell and Smolenak, Bickell is listed as 6'4" and 223lbs... will either of them be able to use it against the quick Red Wings though? Umm.. probably not.. maybe? Coach Q has saved us all more talk of a goalie controversy by naming Huet as the starter for tonight - so now it's up to Huet to do some work to quiet his many vocal critics..
Speaking of the Red Wings - they've now lost their last 4 games that actually count for something. They are not going to be a happy team after giving away both games in their native Sweden. Of course, this is also the real home opener in Detroit in front of fans who are probably a bit upset that the last thing they saw on their home ice was Sidney Crosby skating around with the Cup. So yeah, this is going to be a tough one for the Hawks - but it's definitely win-able.
In other Red Wings news, they've managed to get even older. 22 year-old Justin Abdelkader was sent to the AHL in favor of the newly signed Brad May, who clocks in at a sprightly 37 years-old. We've last seen May in Toronto at the end of last year, evidently not be truculent enough. May's here to bring some size and fight to the Wings, who were knocked around pretty well by the Blues.
And to wrap it all up - the Hawks are still smarting from their poor showing in the WCF of last year. Sure a few of those games went well and could have gone either way but the Hawks can't feel good about the series as a whole. Will someone try to get revenge for Kronwall's hit on the departed Havlat? Can Huet do this, again? Lets hope so...
Lets Go Hawks