TV/RADIO: CSN. WGN 720am
TEXAS RADIO AND THE BIG BEAT: Defending Big D
The last week before a two week break the Hawks look like they so desperately need. And it sets up well for them, as all three teams on the docket in the next five days just aren't all that good. It starts tonight with the Dallas Stars, who are simply awful away from home, to the tune of 8-15-6. Seemingly, when you can get who you want out against Brad Richards, this team folds up the tent.
Not that the Hawks have exactly rolled over inferior teams lately. There have been regulation losses to Carolina and St. Louis, a shootout one over Phoenix (who may actually not be as inferior as we thought), and a regulation win in Missouri where the Hawks were outplayed for long stretches. They won thanks to Antti Niemi, who'll take the reigns again tonight. I don't have a problem with that, he played so well on Saturday he's earned another start. That doesn't mean I'm clamoring for him to be the #1, but that's a debate we've had too much already. Coach Q knows this team in huffing and puffing to the break, and we'll take two points no matter how he gets them. We'll worry about finding Huet's game in March.
As for the Stars, Mike Ribeiro returns from hurting his throat fellating Brad Richards in the shower. But they lose Steve Ott and Mark Fistric, who's been excellent this season. That takes away one of two effective d-men the Stars have (the other being consistently broken-faced Stephane Robidas). In all reality, the Hawks should shred this blue line, as Nick Grossman, Trevor Daley, Matt Niskanen, Jeff Woywitka, and Karlis Skrastins are the very definition of "guys". Because of that, and judging from their last road effort in Columbus, the Stars are almost certainly going to try and batten down the hatches. This could be a real taffy-pull.
That doesn't mean the Stars are short on scoring. With Ribeiro, Richards, Jamie Benn, James Neal, Brenden Morrow, Loui Eriksson, Jere Lehtinen, and a streaking Mike Modano, the Stars can get goals from a lot of places. But it is unlikely they'll want to race with the Hawks as their blue line just won't keep up. They're also not physical in the least, so if the Hawks just want to dump it in, pound the shit out of them, and then crash the net, they'll find their rewards that way. Yes, Turco's very good at handling the puck, but there are ways around that.
As always, remember to buy an Indian if you're heading down, or you can get one online here. The single issues are just $2.