GAMETIME: 6pm Central
TV/RADIO: Comcast Bullhorn, WGN RADIO
Pepperland Goes Blue: Jackets Cannon
With McClure off at one of the 139 weddings he gets invited to per year, and Killion immersed in work, you're in for a Full Fels weekend! Sit back, relax, and strap it down.
Anyway, the calvalcade of fun that is the Hawks these days truck it on over to Ohio without Patrick Kane, who is apparently sick and will "hopefully" return for the Battle Royal that will be Saturday night at the UC against Snow White's 20 dwarfs. Jassen Cullimore was called up, which means the Hawks are going with seven d-men, which also might mean that either Jordan Hendry or John Scott will be skating on the 4th line occasionally, or rather ahead of Jack Skille and Viktor Stalberg in the 3rd period. Marty Turco gets the start.
However the lineup shakes out, the Hawks need to play better. And a full 60 minutes (I feel like I write that a lot). It makes my angina hurt to write that the Hawks have looked "flat" for stretches in each game because it's so easy to do and is the default criticism of the unwashed ignorant, but there's no getting around it. The last 30 against Nashville could have easily put the entire UC crowd into a vegetative state that Congress could have debated whether to pull the plug on or not (OH NO SAM MADE A POLITICAL JOKE QUICK SOMEONE ACCUSE HIM OF NOT PAYING TAXES AND PLANTING LETTER BOMBS!!!!). The first step to getting the season on track is to bring effort for the full game.
Oh, and let's coax something out of Dave Bolland, just for giggles. The guess here is the top line stays intact, and Skille goes with Sharp and Bickell. Or maybe both Skille and Stalberg get bumped up to Sharp's line and they can make up the half-step the currently-dizzy Shooter doesn't have while he "doesn't have a concussion." It'll change all game so why even speculate. The Hawks actually gave up an acceptable number of shots against Nashville, but you don't have to work all that hard to not give up shots to the Preds at home. Let's hope we see more of an improvement in our own end.
For Columbus, it's their home opener after opening the season in the land where the history comes from (first person to get that reference will be emailed and offered free Pelican tickets at the Bottom Lounge next Saturday, and I'm not kidding), so you know they're going to come out flying. They haven't played in five days either, so they'll be fresh but hopefully a bit rusty. Remember the Hawks were so-so for a couple games last year after their European sojourn. The Jackets took one of four points on offer from the Sharks last weekend.
They still have the same problems they've always had, i.e. no true center for Rick Nash and a general lack of offensive talent on the blue line. The latter is a real problem as new coach Scott Arniel is trying to ramp things up. Kind of hard to do that when you have no puck movers. They're counting on big leaps forward from Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard, which may or may not happen, these kids have shown flashes before. But they're singing the praises of Ethan Moreau, which I think tells you all you need to know. They're also looking for any sign that Steve Mason has emerged from a sophomore slump, tonight we can join in on that fun.
The Hawks never have an easy time in Ohio, and this being their home curtain-raiser they won't tonight either. But a solid effort from our boys and a good game from Turco really should be enough. I hope.