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Cage In The Water: Hawks at Sharks Preview/Pregame Thread/Rum Pie Testing (Yes, testing. We're a weird household)

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Images_medium vs. Swimming_with_sharks_medium
GAMETIME: 9:30pm Central

TV/RADIO: WGN for both

Chum: Fear The Fin, Battle of California

Where You're Watching The Game Tonight: The Bottom Lounge (1375 W. Lake St.)

Assuming that everyone has all their body parts with them and not wholly infected after a couple day stop in Sin City, the Hawks start off Part II of the Circus Trip, otherwise known as going to California with an aching in their heart...or liver. It kicks off with what now seems the traditional Black Wednesday encounter at the Shark Tank, or as it's been know to us our last five trips there, the Two Point Tank.

According to everyone's twitter reports, the Hawks are going to roll with the same lineup they did on Saturday, and why wouldn't they? Sharp at center? Well, that makes sense so why would that happen? As we've all stated recently, we basically have given up trying to figure out the Hawks. They're going to confound us, and I really have no idea which version we see tonight. My gut tells me seeing a previous playoff conquest-ee probably brings out something resembling their best, as did seeing the Canucks did. Would I bet on that? Fuck and no.

The Sharks aren't shakin' hands with shorty either coming into tonight. Or maybe they are, I'm not even sure what I'm trying to say with that. They've lost three in a row, and last time out they were embarrassed at home by the Blue Jackets, who may not actually be the unfortunate hockey team we thought they were. Antti Niemi coughed up a two-goal lead in Dallas before that, and there was an OT loss in Denver. All of this came after what Sharks fans thought would be a landmark victory at home versus the unholy force that is the LA Kings.

The usual suspects lead the Sharks in scoring. They haven't been helped by a slump from The Big Pavelski which he's only just coming out of. "Rookie" Logan Couture is thriving in his shift to third-line center. But this defense, somehow after the retirement of the aged and somewhat overrated Rob Blake, has been something of a mess. Doug Murray -- a starting d-man on the Shockingly Swedish All-Stars -- is just back from injury. This team is counting on Niclas Wallin to carry big minutes. Nada so good, boss.

If the Hawks care, they can get their cycle going down low against this bunch, as the Sharks forwards outside of Couture haven't been thrilled with the idea of helping out in their end so far this year (notice Setoguchi's -8). Even with Murray back, this team isn't heavy on atom-smashers. But I have no idea if the Hawks will care. Do you?

So let's find out together. Come on down to The Lounge, enjoy a libation on us, and celebrate that you won't be working for five days.