Game Time: 6:00
TV/Radio: WGN for both
Sleepless in Cowtown: Matchsticks and Gasoline
As the only non-Bears fan among the writers, I guess it's my duty to bring you today's preview. The Flames come into today's game in a rough spot. They had a solid three game home-stand where they took all 6 points and scored 13 goals early in December. Following that, they went on the road and have dropped all 3 so far with tonight being their final stop before heading back to Alberta. So early on we may see if the Flames decide to just pack their bags and head home or if they want to fight to end the trip on a final high note. With the Blackhawks sitting right near the top of the league in points, I would imagine the Flames are going to come out gunning. Everyone wants to take down the guys on top.
To do so, the Flames will put most of their faith in their top line. Both Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen have had decent years so far with 23 and 25 points respectively. Jokinen is entering a bit of a hot streak with 5 points in the last 6 games. They've always been a streaky pair though and don't have games that really compliment each other... not that Iginla has ever had anyone who actually complimented his game. Beyond that, there's Rene Bourque who is almost certain to score an annoying goal against the Hawks. He's certainly not going to get a lot of assists.. with only 3 on the year so far, he's in danger of getting passed up by Ray Emery.
And of course, there's always Miikka Kiprusoff in the net who is more than capable of just stealing a game, though that's happening less and less as the years and miles add up on the Finn. Still, he had the last game off so he should be rested to face the Hawks. Kipper hasn't been the unsolvable riddle for the Hawks like other goalies though. He allows close to 3 goals per game and has only a .900Sv%, his 5th lowest among all NHL teams.
The big news in the Hawks world is the re-calling of Jeremy Morin now that he's done with his three-game suspension for getting a little Prongery with his elbow. There hasn't been any official word from the Hawks on if he's actually going to start or not. This seems to mean that Carbomb is definitely sitting out another game but I would not be shocked to see Q throw out Scott on the fourth line once again. Morin has been solid in the AHL and it will be interesting to see how he fits in with the Hawks. Expect him to play on the fourth line if he does dress for the game. There's an outside chance he could fit in on the third line but Bolland-Bickell-Frolik seemed to find some chemistry again so it would be a shame to split them up, not that that's ever stopped Q before.
Emery gets the start once again, Sharp looks to continue his point streak and it would certainly be nice to see Kane wake up from a minor little slump. He's without a point in the last three games, though that is after a 5 game streak of 8 points. The Flames aren't a quick team by any means so his quickness is a major asset. There's not much scary about this Flames team but they're still not a team the Hawks should sleep on, as the 5-2 loss in the last meeting shows.
Let's Go Hawks