Game time: 6:00PM
TV/Radio: WGN, NHL Network, WGN-AM 720
Chesterfield King(s): Jewels From The Crown, Battle of California
Even though it's supposed to be the season of giving for all the non-pagans such as myself out there, tonight's opponent over the last three games has certainly been taking what it wants from opposing defenses, scoring 15 goals in those three games, winning two of them. One of those wins was last night in Nashville, where the Kings carpet bombed Anders Lindback early and then kept it coming on backup Mark Dekanich, skating out with a 6-1 win. The win was without red-assed blueliners Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell, and featured a new look with Norris hopeful and cross-check artist Drew Doughty paired with Jack Johnson (not that super mellow guitar playing bro that has his CD issued at frat houses across America). The results of that were positive, as both finished a +3, and Doughnuts had a goal and a helper. Up front for the Kings, Marco Sturm has at long last joined the team from Boston, but while a decent player when healthy (and he has yet to play for the L.A.), he doesn't fully solve their ongoing issue of having a ton of excellent secondary scoring aside from Anze Kopitar. Kopitar has resumed his rightful place atop the Kings stat sheet, leading them in both goals and assists with 14G and 17A, though Justin Williams and what we wish Jack Skille could be in Dustin Brown are not far off. Not much has changed since the Hawks last saw the Kings at Staples, as the Kings are still very solid defensively both at even strength and killing penalties, but are still middling in scoring output despite the recent outburst. Mitchell and Greene are both doubtful for tonight's game which certainly takes a bit of the bite out of their team defense, but they're still a strong team that chances will have to be earned against. With Jonathan Bernier playing last night in Nashville, Jonathan Quick will start tonight, and he's having a stellar season with a paltry 1.98 GAA and a .929 save percentage while facing 28 shots per start. Traffic in front of Quick will be key, as if it's ever not a key when facing a tough goalie.
As for our Men of Four Feathers, in spite of the solid performance against Scum Friday night, the reinforcements are still not arriving for tonight's game. Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Viktor Stalberg are all out again for the Hawks, so expect the same lineup we saw on Friday. That lineup featured Patrick Sharp on Jonathan Toews' wing, and yet the Hawks still were very good at the dot, winning 29 of 54 draws from a very good team in that department in Scum. Aiding that was newcomer Ryan Johnson, who won 5 of 7 draws and was decent despite being -1 and being saddled with John Scott on his line. Corey Crawford once again will start in net for the Hawks, and he'll have to control his rebounds well against a Kings team that fires from any and every angle while sending bodies to the net. The Kings style certainly caters to the game that the Hawks have to play with some of their big guns out, but the Hawks will need just as strong and smart of an effort tonight as they got on Friday. Anything less and this team will bend you over the barrel as they did to Nashville last night. A full 60 minute effort tonight might just finally indicate that this team is figuring it out, but they've got to show it to us first. Let's go Hawks