Game time: 9:00PM CST
TV/Radio: CSN (US), CBC (Canada, HNIC), WGN-AM 720
No rest for the inept, it seems. After getting unequivocally outworked and embarrassed last night by the Calgary Flames, the Hawks walk gingerly into Vancouver tonight to take on arguably their biggest rival the last two to three years, the Vancouver Canucks. We've gone over the numerous changes the Canucks underwent this past off-season, and some have yielded mixed results. Supposed savior Keith Ballard had been a healthy scratch prior to Thursday's game versus the Penguins, and has yet to register a single point in 9 games. Defensive messiah Dan Hamhuis, who's still got Kaner, has been servicable with 3 points and an even rating, but certainly isn't revolutionizing the position. However, Manny Maholtra, picked up from San Jose, has been quite excellent as the Nucks' new third line center, with 10 points and a team-best +4. Speaking of that +4, for a team that's 8th in the league in scoring at 3.1 goals per game and 5th in goals against at 2.4, that seems awfully low. Those numbers are likely a function of the Canucks having a devestating power play, operating at 27.1 percent, good for second in the league, as 19 of their 55 goals as a team have come on the advantage. Their PK is just as nails, killing 86.3 percent of penalties. The Twins, with fittingly identical 24 points a piece, lead the team in scoring, though Daniel Has 12G and 12A, and Henrik has 2G and a shocking 22A to this point. Regardless of who is riding shotgun with those two on the top line, it's imperative that they be contained if their any hope at emerging victorious tonight. Self-Appointed Arbiter of Cowardice (and total motherfucker to play against) Ryan Kesler has a very respectable 9 goals thus far, and figures to be facing the Toews line for the better part of tonight. Roberto Luongo figures to start tonight, and he's played to fairly middling numbers to this point. As is usually the case, it's a coinflip to see which version of Borat shows up against the Hawks- the brick wall that was at the United Center last month, or Reboundo, who made numerous appearances last May. The Nucks are chronically over-exuberant for these games at home (where they've yet to lose in regulation this year), which lead them to taking dumb penalties and getting off their game. If they've learned absolutely anything from the past and keep their shit together, it's going to be a serious challenge for the Hawks.
Ok, now onto the supposed Men Of Four Feathers. I emptied the cartridge last night on these guys, so I don't know what more there really is to say except play like you actually give a fuck. Because if you don't, last night is going to look positively radiant compared to tonight's result. Maybe last night in Calgary was a case of looking ahead, which you would think a team with the experience it has would avoid, but I don't know that for sure. Corey Crawford, who has deserved better than his record would indicate gets the start tonight, and he's going to need to stand tall during the early portion of this game, as the Canucks are sure to come out breathing fire (what a concept, right?). As of the time of this writing, there's no confirmation of any lineup changes, but it wouldn't shock me to see things jumbled and more than a couple people from last night's game in street clothes (cough Kopecky cough). The one silver lining about last night's abomination is that there's an immediate opportunity to rectify it in a fit of cathartic anger, and no finer opponent to unleash that upon. The question becomes does this year's team even have that in them? We'll find out, won't we? Let's go Hawks.