GAMETIME: 7:30PM CST
TV: COMCAST RADIO: 720AM
OPPONENT'S BLOG: Fear The Fin
Boy, that game on Sunday sure was nice wasn't it? Patrick Sharp returns and sparks the offense, the Hawks reclaim the 4th seed to their very own, and all was right with the world. Time to sit back and enjoy the view, right? WRONG.
The Hawks are now entering the toughest part of their schedule to date with San Jose tonight, the Devils on Friday, and Vancouver on Sunday, while having to learn how to put a win (and hopefully a string of them) together again. Sunday was a step in the right direction - particularly the paltry 15 shots on net allowed by the Hawks defense. We all finally got our wish with Matt Walker wearing a necktie and not the Indianhead when puck drop came, and there's no reason to believe that's going to change tonight, particularly with Cam Barker again unlikely to suit up. Jordan Hendry has never wowed anyone with his speed, but it truly was amazing how quick he looked compared to Walker on Sunday. Perhaps it was losing the extra digit in the off season from his sweater switching from #42 to #6 that allowed him to move quicker. Look for Hendry to be paired with Aaron Johnson once again tonight should Barker not be able to go.**
If Barker remains out, that will continue to shake things up on the power play units, as well. Sunday saw both Bolland and Buff see time on the first unit with Campbell, with Keith and Seabrook manning the second. Neither DB (see what I did there?) looked particularly comfortable in the role, so we may see yet another look tonight. Personally, I would like to see Seabrook jump up with Campbell on the first unit, and have Hjalmarsson and Keith on the second, with Keith as the trigger man. Hammer has earned some power play time with his sound play of late, though I cannot recall him even attempting a shot in this past stretch of being paired with Campbell, which is likely not a coincidence. But if Barks can give it a go, then the units should go back to normal.
Up front, the lines look to remain the same with Eager serving the second of his three game suspension. The Versteeg-Pahlsson-Kane experiment didn't fare particularly well on Sunday, especially with Coach Q replacing Kane on defensive zone draws, and getting a quick change once Pahlsson won the draw. For a team that has been struggling to generate offense, it doesn't seem to make sense to limit the ice time of your leading scorer, or to put him with a defensive specialist of a center. It would be nice to see 10-19-88 come flying down the ice as a single unit for the first time in a long time tonight, but there's been no report that Quenneville is jostling his lines any further.
Speaking of injuries, the Sharks have been decimated of late. San Jose will be without Rob Blake, Marcel Goc, Ryane Clowe, and Mike Grier tonight due to various ailments, and captain Patrick Marleau will not be playing either as he will be with his wife for the birth of their second child. All that being said, this game will still require a top effort from the Hawks for a full 60 minutes. With Vancouver winning last night over the rapidly falling Stars, the men of four feathers will need at least a point to reclaim 4th to their very own. Two points would be far preferred, however.
And if all that wasn't enough, some guy named Roenick might be playing his last game in Chicago tonight, too, whose most notable career achievements include an appearance on One Life To Live l and more recently calling Sidney Crosby boring. I've also heard rumors of a full on smooch-fest for Roenick in the Indian, so pick one up if you're going to be at the UC.
**UPDATE - Looks like Barker might play? Hendry finished something like his 47th cup of coffee and has been sent back down to Rockford