TV/RADIO: CSN, VS. (JIP), WGN RADIO 720
CANUCKS' CATTLE CALL: Nucks Misconduct
Those of you who haven't thrown yourself out of the window because Chicago area columnists told you to will get to enjoy this preview and game. As McClure and I have both stated, Game 1 wasn't quite the disaster it may look like. Yes, the 2nd period was awful, and I could sit here for hours and think of adjectives to "suck" or "abortion" and still not get there. But the 1st was everything we thought this series would be; open, chances aplenty, Canucks taking penalties, etc. Things might have looked different if Kane hits that open net or the breakaway or it's someone else besides John Madden on that 2-on-1 (after a really nifty pass by Buff which no one's mentioned).
So with that out there, the Hawks have to bury those chances. But they also, more importantly, need a goalie tonight who is not in need of a diaper. Antti Niemi was straight-up bad on Saturday, and however you want to dissect that loss it comes back to him. I've heard enough about Sharp screening him on the first goal. Sharp was at least 10 feet out from Niemi, who left enough net open for me to hit, and the shot went under his pad regardless. That's just bad tending, and you know this, maaaan. The second we've gone over, and the rest is the rest. Niemi's been jumpy for three straight games now, and we need the guy who stonewalled this very team in Vancouver in November back tonight. Anything resembling it and the Hawks are well on their way to a win.
You know what would help? If the Hawks defensive coverage didn't look like recess for the special ed class. Chip the puck out, kids, it's not that hard. We're all having our eyes bleed at the sight of pucks fired blindly around the boards, or the blind passes that keep pressure in the zone, or the fights at the blue line we're not winning. Our forwards positioning these days looks like it was designed by Picasso (he was an artist, Nucks fans). When facing pressure, they're dropping far too low, leaving pointmen with enough room to get shots through to the net and cause rebound ruckus that generally go in our net. When the Hawks resume control, they're shotgunning to the neutral zone, leaving d-men stranded to get assaulted by forecheckers. Fix. This.
But it'll all look better if the Hawks passing is crisp. I want to hear vulcanized rubber crashing against taped wood (or composite, or whatever the fuck) all night from the men in red. Don't tell me about flat or energy or any of that shit. Any team looks lifeless when they lose. Watch how much jump it looks like they have if they score first early.
No word on lineup changes, we may not know until the game. If anything breaks, we'll let you know.
Onward, to Mayhem!
UPDATE From Sassone's Facebook Status: "These look to be the Hawks'lineup changes: Byfuglien back to defense; Brouwer backto first line with Toews and Kane; Burish and Eager in; Bickell and Hendry out"