One weekend before the roadtrip that will define at least the 2010 portion of our schedule. The Hawks kick it off where the run last spring took its first step forward (officially, really). The Hawks head to Music City to face a reeling and beat up Predators squad. The Preds had lost five in a row before rallying for a free throw competition win in St. Louis a couple nights back. They are without Ryan Suter, Matthew Lombardi, and Martin Erat, and this wasn't the deepest team around to begin with.
Preds fans have been waiting for Cal O'Reilly to fulfill the potential his brother Ryan apparently stole, and in Lombardi's absence he may have done so. He's scored in the last two games and has been a pretty strong threat as he minds the top center duties. Suter apparently took the morning skate but I don't know if he's going to play or not. Will update when I know. In goal, Pekka Rinne has been, by the standards he's set, getting lit up recently. Before the game with the Blues, the Preds had surrendered over four goals in the previous five. Suter's injury certainly didn't help, as when Shane "One More Before Last Call" O'Brien and Kevin Klein are manning your second pair it would be described as "Icky-pants" by Bart Simpson when talking about girls.
For the Hawks, this is the first time they'll ice their full lineup. That's not really much of a landmark as they've only been missing one or two here and there, and the past few have only been without Dave Bolland who's only rumored to be alive these days anyway. They'll throw out this mish mash of lines tonight and while I'm usually the first to stare in confusion at what Q is doing, I will say that if anything is going to get Bolland's offensive game going it would be being stuck between Kane and Hossa. Hendry and Scott are apparently the scratches, meaning Duncan Keith will continue to leave Nick Boynton out to dry and Jassen Cullimore being at least 50 feet behind Brian Campbell at all times. In all likelihood, Seabrook and Hammer will draw the tough assignments when Q has the option.
Even with their injuries, the Preds are not going to make things easy. Considering the form or overall quality of our blue line these days, they'll be forechecking and attacking like a blind dog in a meathouse, Warren Sapp. The Hawks forwards absolutely must get "above" the pinching d-men, i.e. closer to the puck than they are, to facilitate getting it out of their zone. If they do that, with a center coming down the middle their should be space in the neutral zone behind those defensemen crunching down. I know space in the neutral zone and Nashville are something that rarely go together, but this is what they've been doing to us for a while now, there can't really be any surprises.
Turco gets the start, and with Erat and Lombardi missing the Hawks should be able to keep the shots-against down. One would hope.
Fuck it, I'm going to go ahead and call it, Jack Skille breaks the duck tonight.
Fuck Tim McGraw.
Update: Erat and Suter are in for the Preds, so as usual pretty much everything I've written is utter twattle. Thank you for your time.