Game Time: 7:00 PM
TV/Radio - WGN Ch. 9, WGN-AM 720
What It Sounds Like When Doves Cry: Hockey Wilderness
It seems there's no rest for the mediocre. After last night's sloppy loss to the Oilers, the Hawks travel northward to visit the Minnesota Wild, who are as middle of the road as pretty much everyone expected. The Wild are coming off a 2-1 over Washington on Thursday night, and have a 4-3-2 record overall, good for third in the Northwest Division. They're being led by off-season acquisition Matt Cullen and captain Mikko Koivu, both of whom lead them in goals, assists, and points with 3G-7A-10P. However, all but one of Cullen's points have come on the advantage, which is best in the league at 32.5 percent, on which Cullen mans a point. So it's safe to say that the Hawks will need to stay out of the box this evening, and if they find themselves down, to limit Cullen's time and space. Goalie Niklas Backstrom has also returned to form after a down year last year, sporting a 2.09 GAA and .929 save percentage while facing 29.75 shots a game. Elsewhere, you know the drill. Andrew Brunette will continue to do the dirty work he's been doing since the Magna Carta was signed, Cal Clutterbuck will run around with his elbows up and his feet off the ice while wearing a visor, and Martin Havlat will bitch about ice time (it seems fitting that a man that we dubbed Jesus Havlat Christ and who so closely resembles the man would have a martyr complex). Old friend Cam Barker once again will ride the pine, so it seems that he's not making the most of his opportunity there, either. Under Todd Richards, who now infamously subjected the Wild to a bag skate earlier in the year, these aren't your grandpappy's Wild- they want to push the pace and avoid the trap. Round here we used to think that was a good thing, but we said that last night and look what happened. Either way, the Hawks need to stay out of the box, lest they be torched by that power play.
Which brings us to our Men of Four Feathers, they'll be going as the Rockford Ice Hogs for Halloween tonight. Last night is still fresh in pretty much everyone's mind, and I think I pretty well covered what I'd like to see out of the Hawks tonight. Dave Bolland did not make the trip, and Ryan Potulny has been recalled, adding another to the list of Hawks who have missed time this year- though this shouldn't be a surprise with Bolland missing two practices this week and not playing in the third last night. There's been no word on who will get the nod in net tonight, as neither goalie wowed anyone last night, but seeing as Turco only got 20 minutes and is the clear starter, it would seem he'd get a crack at redeeming himself tonight. It's truly anyone's guess as to what the lines will look like, especially the bottom six. Patrick Sharp continues to drag this team by its dick into offensive competence, but multi-point efforts from Kane, Toews, and Keith last night are a bit encouraging, despite the outcome and all the home-run-passery. Brian Campbell made the trip, but it would be a shocking turn if he dressed, and there's no word yet as to whether John Scott will be slowly skating backward into the lineup either. With all the key bodies that are being missed, it's time to keep things simple. Close the gap in neutral ice, get back to the hash marks for a breakout, and take a shot when it's there. Things will get better if you do so, I mean it. They have to, right? Let's go Hawks.
Update - Turco is in net tonight, and Campbell may play Monday in New York. - Sam