GAMETIME: 6:30 Central
TV/RADIO: WGN for both
So McClure obviously tied one on last night, so I'll dive on this grenade. A few words about last night's game first. Other than tonight's opponent, San Jose, and Detroit, every team the Hawks see are going to go what the Preds did. Clog the neutral zone, trap, trap, trap. The Hawks simply are going to have to play for 60 minutes, be way more careful with the puck then they were last night (they were giving it away more than a nightclub promoter in Tiger's room. ZING! I can do topical, see?) and take what is given. After Toews's wonder-goal, the Hawks turned the engine off, and that can't happen. Though the Hawks have a pretty gaudy home record, can you recall the last game there when they've put in a dominant performance? Reeks of complacency, which has no place on this team. You haven't won anything yet, lads.
Anyway, to tonight, then. The big news is Sidney Crosby won't play, which I think marks the third straight time Crosby won't face the Hawks (definitely second straight). Not as if this team is clueless without him, though. Geno Malkin will be the #1 center. Where the advantage comes in is that if Crosby had played, you can bet your ass coach Bylsma would have done his best to match one of his studs against Kris Versteeg and that mish mash of a second line. Not as easy now, but for sure he'll try and get Malkin away from John Madden, who didn't have his best game last night. One player to watch is Alex Goligoski. He's a young defensemen, very smooth, QB-ing their power play at the moment. When watching BIll Guerin, if you squint really hard you can see what Byfuglien or Brouwer were supposed to be, and then sigh.
Some have argued that the Hawks may have been caught with one eye on this game, and it is a pretty big one. Like the San Jose game, a lot of hockey fan TV's will be tuned to this one. The Hawks will not have to deal with any trap tonight, and with Crosby out, the Hawks have a real shot to win their last ever game in The Igloo (assuming no meeting in June, of course). Hopefully, Q has realized that second line of Versteeg-Kane-Buff didn't do anything last night, didn't really do anything the night before that either (Versteeg's goal was shorthanded, after all) and needs a change. If the rumblings are true that the reason Sharp isn't playing center is because he simply doesn't want to, I'd look long and hard at that "A" on his chest and ask serious questions about whether it should be there at all. If you want to play with Kane, Shooter, the only way to do that is as our #2 center right now. The team needs that from you, so fucking get over yourself and do it.
Anyway, should be fun, ride 'em in, Rawhide.
Update: Because I'm a blithering idiot, I didn't notice Goligoski won't play tonight either. So don't watch for him, might be difficult to see. Chris Kunitz also won't play.