TV/RADIO: WGN for both
Canucks Gentlemen Caller: Nucks Misconduct
They tell us they have a new attitude. They say these games don't mean as much to them as they once did. They say their goals are different this time around, that this is just another game of 82 as they focus on securing top spot in the conference and league. They say they've cut out the crap, are just focused on playing hockey. They say. They say.
If that is indeed the case, then this can go one of two ways. Either a Hawks team that needs these two points a lot more than the Canucks do at the moment comes out to outwork the talent gap between the two, hassles a still not totally convinced blue line into the turnovers they feasted on last time we visited BC, Bolland and Keith harass the Sedins into another night of waiting for the end, and the Hawks get a most satisfying and needed victory. Or, the West Coast cool that the Canucks seem to have embraced this year keeps them from getting rattled, they black and red that used to drive them into a rage solicits a mere shrug, and they continue their roll of dominance that so flattened the Coyotes and Stars this week, and we worry about acing the rest of the trip.
But this team is still coached by Alain Vigneault, right?
Whatever the case may be, this is a formidable machine on the other bench tonight. There's a reason they've got a cushion on the rest of the Conference. Kevin Bieksa shut up long enough to actually be effective, Dan Hamhuis has improved a defense that needed it, Roberto Luongo isn't competing with John Nash to see who's most batshit crazy. For me? it's Ryan Kesler. I've made no secret of my love for #17 even when he was public enemy #1 around here. You could always count on The Children of The Corn to dominate, but no one saw 40 goals coming from Kesler. He's been a force this year, and done most of it without last year's partner in crime Mason Raymond (though now they've been reunited). With Raffi Torres still somehow being a pain in the ass to the world, the Nucks can hurt you from everywhere. They've lost their best d-man on the year, Alex Edler, and they haven't missed a beat. But was talent ever the question here? I would think that after our last visit there the Nucks would foaming at the mouth. But that's what got them in trouble before. And I can't get past the way they cooly just swatted us aside the last time these teams met on Dec. 3rd.
As for the Hawks, buzz out of the optional morning skate is that Patrick Kane hurt himself. Hopefully it's not too serious, otherwise the Hawks would probably have to dress Jordan Hendry as a forward with John Scott at home and Ryan Johnson banged up. And no one wants that. Turco gets the cage, and I don't think it's a bigger deal than a goalie who -- after a very soft goal -- played very well after and deserves to see if he can keep the roll going. But the Hawks will have to be better all over the ice to avoid getting facefucked. Keith and Seabrook will have to get over the Anarchists' Convention they've been for over a month now. Keep your head up, Mr. Leddy. And if Kane is a go, then get Nick Boynton out of my life.
They say they're over it. Maybe, maybe not. Let's test it.