GAMETIME: 9:30pm Central, or Bar Time
TV/RADIO: WGN for both
The Hawks long trip comes to an end where so many long journeys end, downtown LA. We were all disappointed by yesterday's effort, and it sounded like the team was too, so I'd expect some more jump for the gun tonight. Or they'll have one eye on the exit and their own beds and mail this one and get proper tonked. Aren't I being committal? Niemi will get the start tonight, and if he plays like his last start, then the Hawks will finish this trip 5-1-0 and no one is going to complain about that in the least.
After a great start, the Kings are starting to choke on the thin air of the top of the standings. Though they only sit four points behind the Hawks, they've played two more games and have lost three of four, including their last effort where they were pretty much erased by the Canuckleheads. Anze Kopitar was leading the league in scoring, but then stalled on 33 points for eight games, and when he's not scoring this team isn't anywhere near as threatening. Ryan Smyth's injury has been a problem, as Kopitar is not getting the space Captain Canada would create for him. They've tried moving Teddy Purcell up to the top line to provide the same service, but it hasn't worked yet. Don't be shocked if Dustin Brown makes his way to the top line at some point, maybe even tonight. The Kings might also be without Jarrett Stoll and Rob Scuderi. Michal Handzus as a #2 center, everyone.
One player to watch is Drew Doughty. He's got 20 points from the blue line, is good size and an excellent skater. Also, Jonathan Quick has given us problems in the past, though the Hawks have managed to beat him the last three times they've faced him. So that's cool, but those were all at home. The Hawks seemingly never, ever play well at Staples. The last time they won there was still a loss, when they blew a 5-1 3rd period lead two years ago before Sharp-shooter saved some real embarrassment in OT. Last year the Hawks dropped two 5-2 scores, and this is also where they gave up 9 on New Year's Day 2008. Quite frankly, a Saturday night can be ruined by that fucking train horn and Randy Newman. The Kings are hurting, are not playing well, and are there for the taking. We know the Hawks are looking forward to the ride home, but after yesterday, they owe themselves a balls-out effort to close out the trip on a high.
Down with the Kings.