Tonight, The Ramblin' Boys of Pleasure start the second half of their longest road trip of the year against the trappy, creepy, and sometimes weepy Vancouver Canucks in the second of back to back blood feud rivalry games from last year's playoff opponents. Bob and his boys come into tonight's tilt in second place in the Northwest, and having won three games in a row. The Nucks also boast a fairly potent offense this year, having one of the Sedins (does any one really know or care which one it is?) currently leading the league in scoring, and martyr Alexandre Burrows (who spells their name like that?) leading the team with 23 goals, more than anyone on the Hawks. Vancouver is also right behind the Hawks in team scoring, putting up 3.20 goals a game to the Hawks 3.22, so offense has clearly not been the problem in BC. Sascha Baron Luongo has been solid if not posting Vezina caliber numbers, but this is after a wishy-washy start from the Nucks' "captain" (and I use the term loosely. Find someone who can put the "C" on their sweater, numbnuts), so that would suggest stronger play of late, coming in with a 2.30 GAA and a .919 save percentage, and is always capable of deciding that you just don't get to score that night. All of that will be put to the test tonight with three of Vancouver's top four defenseman out in Willie Mitchell, Sami Salo, and Kevin Bieksa. Losing that much of a defensive corps would be tough for any team to deal with, and it will be interesting to see how the Nucks decide to tonight. Previously they've tried to trap the Hawks, but they're clearly able to put up comparable offensive numbers. It will be on coach Alain Vigneault to decide which his scrubs will be more adept at - transition or trapping, and that may change within the game tonight.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, it seems nothing gets them back up on that pogo stick like a game against the Calgary Flames. It was a solid if not overly dominant performance coming off what Coach Q called their worst effort of the year in Ottawa. Antti Niemi figures to get the start in net again tonight, which should give all the meatballs throbbing erections and spark yet another pointless debate in the comment section here. Look, Huet has never played more than 51 games in a season, so these starts were going to come at some point. But all this is a discussion for another time. Tonight, look for the Quenneville to have John Madden following the Sedins around like a bad reputation if he can make the proper changes. Also, if the game gets trappy, look for Kris Versteeg to refuse to dump the puck in, as usual. And once in the offensive zone, expect Hawk forwards to be all over the Canucks' scrub defensemen, forechecking hard and forcing them to make decisions far quicker than they're used to.
And of course, I would be severely remiss if I didn't put out one last reminder to come and join us at The Whirlaway Lounge at 3224 W. Fullerton in Logan Square, where Sergio and Maria always welcome us with open arms (for some reason). Sam and I will be there a bit before the game, and sadly Killion got called in to work, so he will not be able to enjoy the revelry to be had. Though that does ensure you out of towners a far more timely post-game blog, so there is that. Fork Lift from HockeeNight and Jeff Bartl from Black Hawk Up have also stated they'll be there, so come and say hi to them as well, even if the thought of being in the same building (other than the United Center) as me and Fels makes you physically ill. Hope to see everyone there, and let's go Hawks.