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Back From Festivus: Jackets at Hawks Preview/Pregame Thread/Tonight's Indian Free

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GAMETIME: 7:30pm
TV/RADIO: CSN, WGN Radio
OHIO OFFICE PARK: Jackets Cannon

Food coma over yet? Maybe that hangover from dealing with your family showing signs of heading to the exits? Got a week off, or at least a week with minimal work lined up? Good, because this week kicks off the Hawks residency at the United Center, with 12 of the next 15 among the statues over the next four weeks. Needless to say, a plethora and bundle of hay should be produced during this stretch.

And it starts tonight with whiffle ball, otherwise known as the Columbus Blue Jackets. It's not enough that the Jackets are pretty much bad in every category, or have a pretty incompetent coach, or are against the salary cap to produce exactly nine wins so far, and all the other things you can say to describe the teenage sob story they've become. They're coming in off what may have been their most heartbreaking loss to date, a 6-5 place finish in Smashville where the Jackets blew a 4-1 lead, wasted a 1st period hat trick from Jeff Carter (only 10 years left on that that deal!), and watched Martin Erat score with eight seconds left after James Wisniewski and Marc Methot went to scope out the pharmaceutical aisle instead of covering the middle of the ice (only 5 more years on that deal!).

So, there are two ways this can go: One, the Jackets come inspired and angry after a couple day break after covering themselves in urine, and give everything the Hawks can handle. Or two, they can show up with spirit broken, thinking there's nothing they can do that will matter in the long run, and then it pretty much takes an early goal or two before they start checking out the talent in the 100 Level. I won't guess which one, but I know which way I'm leaning.

Even if they play well, it's still Steve Mason starting in net (even though I wrongly listed Sanford in The Indian, which you'll soon see). Mase has been the expected terrible, never recovering from the splat routine after his rookie year. His numbers are horrific, and he's bound to give up one goofy softie (my favorite frozen yogurt flavor) that will deflate his team quicker than a whoopi cushion under Ken Hitchcock's ass.

As for the Hawks, neither Brandon Pirri or Jeremy Morin were recalled, but Marcus Kruger looks set to return to take one of those slots. Dan Carcillo skated this morning but won't play tonight, which means John Scott shifts back to forward for four minutes. Cue stupid and raucous infighting in the comments.

Ok, Pirri was recalled and will play but it's not clear if Kruger will or not . So thank you late changes.

Not much strategy needed here. The Hawks just need to play their game and they'll win. However, the legs may be heavy, minds not completely focused after a full four days off, so don't be shocked if there's a sluggish start. None of us woke up guns blazing this morning, did we? That where the Jackets could strike if they come out with some energy. But then again, the Hawks have aced all three Boxing Day games under Joel Quenneville, the expectation should be the same tonight.

And because it's the season and I'm a good guy, here's tonight's online version of The Indian for any who would like it. Remember, if you like what you see you can subscribe to get it every home game with one of those links on the left.