GAMETIME: 7pm Central
TV/RADIO: VS., CBC, WGN 720 (Zambrano blowing up will be on WIND)
East Coast Siren: Broad Street Hockey, Flyers Goal Scored By
McClure says you lot are jumping off the walls in the threads today, so we'll get this up a little earlier than usual. Obviously, the big one is tonight. As you've seen elsewhere, 24 of the previous 27 Stanley Cup champs have won Game 4. There is a large difference between coming home 3-1 with the man in the black hood warming up his shoulders and coming back 2-2 with the Flyers having all the momentum. I know which I'd prefer.
First things first, on the Hawks side Andrew "Mountain" Ladd is a gametime decision (aren't we all?). He didn't skate with any particular line during the morning skate, but don't read too much into that. I expect Ladd to be in the lineup, and back on Bolland's and Versteeg's wing. If I have to guess, I'd imagine Burish sits and Kopecky moves to the 4th line, but I don't want to put myself on a ledge when it comes to guessing what Coach Q is going to do. For the Flyers, CarBomb is sitting, big shock I know. Are you surprised that in a game where the refs may be tightening things up that the biggest doofus on either team is in the pressbox?
We've been speculating on what Q might do to unlock Toews and Byfuglien. I get the feeling there's a shuffle in our future. Perhaps Brouwer's greater mobility would be an asset on the top line, making Pronger move far more than he has with Buff. Maybe you reunite the Hammer of Thor line with Hossa, Toews, and Sharp, and thus make Laviolette decide which of Toews and Kane he wants to let roam free in a Pronger-less ice. Or maybe you just leave it as it is, and decide that you're the better team, and it doesn't matter.
What I'd like to see, and know I won't, is less adherence to all the matchy-uppy Q tendencies. Make your lineup changes however you want, but then ice the team and make the Flyers adjust to you. Honestly, what line match against the Flyers is so scary? Who of Briere, Richards, and Giroux can Toews not handle (the answer so far is Briere, but that won't last). Sharp? Bolland? Whatever. We're going to go do our thing, you try and stop it. Another thing that has to happen is Brian Campbell's icetime must be greater than Brent Sopel's. 51 Phantom was having a great game in Game 3 in the first two, and then had to watch Sopes stumble and crawl around the ice, which is bringing down Hammer as GMH mentioned. If Campbell gets past the first forechecker, he will exploit the oodles of space behind it.
I know some of you are jittery. Don't be. We'd have taken 2-1 in the Cup Final in October. We have the better team. We haven't played our best in this series yet, and the Flyers have. They still needed at OT to scratch out a win. It's coming tonight. Tonight we see that effort and determination that no team has ever been able to live with.
Oh, and you know where we'll be tonight, so come join us. Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake. Do it.