TV/RADIO: VS., WGN RADIO 720
Oh yaaaa, donch ya knoow?: Hockey Wilderness
Yes, a Beck and a Jagger reference in the title. What of it?
Oh right, there's a hockey game tonight. And a pretty vital one at that.
We'll have more on Campoli tomorrow, probably a discussion piece between McClure and myself, but for now we'll give it the "meh" it seems to warrant and move on to tonight, which the Hawks have to have. With Campoli not going to make it to Minnehaha tonight, and Hendry having torn his ACL last night (terrible news for him. He may be a marginal player but he's been a good soldier for the Hawks for four seasons now), it would appear there's no alternative than John Scott suiting up as your 6th d-man. Duck.
However they line up, however they have to play and who with, the Hawks have to win tonight. The Hawks and Wild are deadlocked at 72 points, and win tonight sees the Hawks vault from 9th to 6th, level on points with the fifth-placed Kings (who will already be prying Dustin Penner out of an In-n-Out somewhere in the Southland area). Another win on Wednesday could see the Hawks threatening fourth, but one step at a time here, kids. If they're going to get that win tonight they have to stay out of the box, because they aren't killing any penalties these days.
Since we last saw the Wild, they haven't hit the slowdown which we're all sure is coming. Or at least we were. They've gone 3-1-1 since losing at the UC, beating the Ducks twice and the Oilers, and kicking it to Scum in a shootout and losing to the Kings in LA after the Purple and Black returned from a 10-game trip. However, this Wild team will not have Mikko Koivu, who's out with a broken hand, and possibly Kyle Brodziak, their 1 and 3 centers. That leaves Matt Cullen and John Madden skating some serious minutes, I would have thought this would mean moving Bouchard to center, but they haven't done that and he's skating with Madden and Havlat for the time being. Just on paper, this is a team the Hawks should beat. But there's something unquantifiable about this Wild team, and on the second of a back-to-back is an extremely tough assignment. Nicklas Backstrom is the quantifiable part, and he goes in the cage for them tonight.
The Hawks have to come out firing because we know there's going to be a 3rd period lull, especially rolling only 5-d as they probably will from the halfway point of the first on. They have gotten on top of the Wild when they make their d-men play the puck. They've harassed them into many turnovers behind their net, and can do so again if they're willing to keep it simple, as they did in Nashville and the 1st and 3rd against the Yotes. When they get cute and lazy is when Havlat, Burns, Miettinen and others can hurt you. Haven't seen if Turco or Crawford goes. I imagine in Q's world a four game win streak means you don't mess with it and let Crawford go again. In my eye Crawford was only impressive in Nashville and somewhat shaky in the others but found a way to get it done. With three more games this week Turks is going to have to start somewhere.
Five is better than four.