When I was younger, and to an extent I still believe that hockey season doesn't really begin until it gets cold and it snows for the first time. The temps will be in the 30's all week, and there's a forecast for snow Thursday, so December is now hockey season. The Hawks enter a vital stretch here. They have 10 home games, against some real dregs. Most of all, they can put some distance between them and the rest of the division. January gets road-heavy, and February contains a big ol' break for the jambaroo in Vancouver. Let's take a look at the ska-doo-lee after the jump, shall we?
|Tue Dec 1, 2009||Blue Jackets||
|Fri Dec 4, 2009||Predators||Blackhawks
|Sat Dec 5, 2009||Blackhawks||
|Wed Dec 9, 2009||Rangers||Blackhawks
|Fri Dec 11, 2009||Blackhawks||
|Sun Dec 13, 2009||Lightning||Blackhawks
|Wed Dec 16, 2009||Blues||Blackhawks
|Fri Dec 18, 2009||Bruins||Blackhawks
|Sun Dec 20, 2009||Red Wings||Blackhawks
|Tue Dec 22, 2009||Sharks||Blackhawks
|Wed Dec 23, 2009||Blackhawks||Red Wings
|Sat Dec 26, 2009||Blackhawks||Predators
|Sun Dec 27, 2009||Predators||Blackhawks
|Tue Dec 29, 2009||Blackhawks||
|Thu Dec 31, 2009||Devils||Blackhawks
Some real softies in there. The Jackets, Rangers, Blues, Bruins, arguably Scum, Stars are not playing well right now, though that can change in the next few weeks. The road games are tough. The Sabres are near the top of the division, but play a style conducive to the Hawks. The Pens are, well, the Pens, so any points there would have to be considered cake. Dallas is playing ok, but are kind of in the NHL blob. Of the five road games, 2-2-1 would have to be considered acceptable.
So the Hawks can make some serious hay at home at the UC, where they have a good record but haven't exhibited any dominance yet. Quite frankly, winning at least 7 of the 10 games on Madison this month should be the minimum goal. And it's not out of reach to go better. The Hawks have their best chance to open up on everyone else here, it'll be much harder to do in January. February just doesn't have enough games, and we know how difficult things get in March. The revolution starts now, Hawks and Steve Earle.
Update: Apparently, Q still thinks Versteeg at center is a viable option, as the Shooter was skating with Toews and Hossa. I find this pretty nonsensical, as both Sharp and Hossa are finishers, and a Kane-Versteeg-Buff line is going to get murdered in their own zone. But don't worry, should change by the 2nd period.