I was trying to wait to write this preview when I heard something solid about Toews, Eager, or if we'll see the return of Niemi.. but now I'm bored and hungry so I'm going to get what we know out of the way now and fill in the gaps later when we hear something solid. The only thing we do know is that the Hawks have recalled Bryan Bickell. What this really means though is anyone's guess. There are so many places Bickell could be put in that we might not know until much closer to game time. I would assume that it's a sure-thing we'll see Niemi get the start though - Huet has had 5 starts in a row and this month is only going to get tougher. With the back-to-back games, it's a perfect time to let the FInn get some more ice time and let Huet rest. Of course Niemi got lit up for 5 goals in a game against the Avs last year.. so hopefully he'll be looking for revenge and not backwards into the net
As for the Avs - they're continuing to surprise the league. With 24 points they're tied with Pittsburgh and San Jose for the most in the league. As has been mentioned before though, the Avs probably aren't as good as their record currently shows. If the godfather isn't sold - then I'm still comfortable thinking this team is playing above where they should. But.. if they can win a game with a swine-flu infected Peter Budaj then the Hawks certainly can't play like they did last night and expect to win.
The Hawks aren't likely to see Budaj though, instead they'll probably be shooting at former Hawk Craig Anderson who is playing out of his skull so far this year. The Hawks will be looking to pepper him with shots though and the Avs will be more than happy to oblige with that strategy. They're 6th worse in the league in allowing shots on their goalies with an average of 32.6 per game. The Hawks are still tops in that category in case you were wondering.. Keep in mind the Hawks are one of the five teams that have found a way to beat Anderson, even if it took a shootout that seemed like it would never end.
The Avs are currently the only team in the league that's still undefeated at home and even though no one is watching they'll be looking to keep that streak alive. It's worth noting that the Avs do have one of the best penalty killing records in the league - so I wouldn't hold your breath for the Hawks to finally right that ship just yet.
Finally - thanks again to everyone who came out last night. A class at night and then a flat tire on my bike on the way to the bar made me pretty delayed but it was fun meeting everyone that was there. We'll do it again soon. And if you were the person who ended up puking at the bar after the game, consider yourself un-invited from our future gatherings til you learn to hold your liquor.
UPDATE: According to Kuc - No Toews, No Eager and not too surprisingly No Bolland. Also, the assumption that Niemi will be the net is correct.
Lets Go Hawks