GAMETIME: 9pm Central
TV/RADIO: Versus, WGN RADIO 720
CALL OF KTULU: Mile High Hockey
WHERE YOU ARE WATCHING: Next to us, at Bottom Lounge (1375 W. Lake)
It is my honor to present our first real game preview of the season. It hardly seems real. But now the Hawks show up to every game as "Defending Stanley Cup Champions" (gimme a minute here while I clear the tears from writing that and you from reading it....good? Little more time? Ok......right, now). No opponent is going to give a jot that the Hawks have had something of a makeover this summer, there still the standard bearer of the league. Yet, you get the feeling that Kane and Toews and crew are going to eat that feeling up with a swagger reserved for people like Jagger and Ali.
For the Hawks, it appears that Fernando Pisani is going from the bottom six on the worst team in the league to the top six of the defending champs (more tears). He will start on Sharp's line opposite Kane. I get it, some size to create space for those two as well as added defensive responsibility to make up Kane's wanderings and Sharp's lack of attentiveness while waiting for Kane to hit his tape. But I don't expect that to last long. Troy Brouwer, who is going to start with Bolland and Bickell apparently, will be taking that second line spot before too long, in my mind. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Stalberg and Skille do, even with fourth line duties. I imagine if they create some havoc they'll see more ice time than a normal fourth line would. Everything's subject to change.
On the backend, fire meet Nick Leddy, Nick, meet fire. While the Lanche don't possess too much size, they're not shy about forechecking pretty hard with their high collection of speed. There's going to Burgundy and Blue all over your ass tonight, kid. We'll see how he handles it. I have to imagine he gets the keys to the second power play unit as well, which is where he should shine. Hendry and Scott will be your third pairing with Boynton suspended for complaining about getting his ass whomped.
We discussed this last night on the podcast, but we all feel the Lanche return to Earth this year. Everything suggests a complete fluke for them to be a playoff team, and while Duchene, Galiardi, Yip, and O'Reilly make for a promising, young core, there big veteran signing was Daniel Winnik. This team was short of goals before Peter Mueller was knocked down the rabbit hole and hanging out with the Mad Hatter, and now they're even shorter. The blue line has the underrated John Michael Liles - an American with multiple names who somehow didn't go to Yale - and Kyle Quincey (who they stole from LA for whatever's left of Ryan Smyth). But Adam Foote will soon be missing games to watch Matlock reruns, and past that there just isn't much. And you simply can't ask Craig Anderson to pull your ass out of a sling for a second year running.
That said, goofy things happen to the Hawks in Denver, and opening against the champs will lead to a pretty inspired Avs squad. A good taste of what the Hawks will see 81 more times after this.
If you can't make it down to The Bottom Lounge tonight, be sure to follow us on Twitter, as with every game we'll be posting our thoughts throughout the game.
The defense starts now. Have at it.