Stop me if you've heard this one before: the Hawks come into a game against Scum, missing two top contributors and fighting for relevancy in the Western Conference, facing a nearly-must win situation. Such was the case 3 months ago when the Hawks gutted out a win at home minus Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. Since then, the names have changed (Sharp and Bolland), but not much else has, save the location, as tonight's game will take place in Unicron-decimated Detroit rather than the U.C. Scum enters tonight's game holding onto the 2nd seed in the west and leading the Central Division, though Nashville is closing fast on them, and San Jose may leapfrog them into the second seed by the time all 82 are said and done. Because it's seemingly par for the course throughout the league right now, they've been doing it recently without some of their own key contributors. Both Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard will be out for tonight's game, though Johan Franzen and his horse face will its way back onto the ice. That Scum are battling injuries and fatigue shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, as half their roster has been around since two days before the Ark crash landed. That hasn't stopped Nicklas Lidstrom from putting together yet another Norris caliber season, and though at this point he may only be a favorite due to reputation (as evidenced by the -1 he's carrying), that hasn't stopped him from being second on the team in scoring behind 30 Seconds To Mars lead singer Henrik Zetterberg, who's also a -1. That there are minuses pocking the Scum lineup, especially with those two regulars, should give you an indication that this is not the definsive stalwart they once were. While Scum is second in the league in scoring with 3.2 goals per, they're only in the middle of the pack in allowing 2.8 goals and 30 shots against, a far cry from previous years. Facing those shots tonight will be Joey MacDonald, who is 4-3 in his seven starts so far this year. In those starts he's posted a respectable .912 save percentage while facing 216 shots, so the drop from Jimmy Howard hasn't been altogether precipitous. As always, the usual assortment of peckers will be just waiting to score some manner of annoying goal, be it Jiri Hudler, Valteri Filppula, Tomas Holmstrom, Dan Cleary, or Brian Rafalski, names we all know and...well...we all know.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, while the loss on Saturday was certainly a kick in the cock, they cannot allow themselves to pout about it, as the upcoming week poses just as big a challenge, starting tonight. With games in hand on everyone of import in the west, the Hawks need to make them count. First and foremost, the Hawks will need more from the carrier of their Matrix of Leadership, Jonathan Toews, who was pretty well nullified by Anaheim's big line on Saturday. He'll get a new linemate tonight, much to Hack's delight, in the form of one Troy Brouwer, which predictably punts Viktor Stalberg back to the 4th line. Elsewhere within the lineup, things pretty much look the same, and since there's been no news otherwise, it's safe to assume that Corey Crawford will once again be between the pipes.
There's is literally zero time for screwing around anymore, as the games now being played will determine whether the Hawks will still be playing two weeks from today. And even though it's not some kind of revolutionary gameplan, tonight will hinge on the Hawks desire to get bodies at the net and their ability to stay out of the box, as there's no need to give Scum's 4th rated power play a chance to strike. Hopefully Brouwer's installation along side Daydream Nation provides the net presence necessary to open space for Toews and Kane, and if it's not, you can be sure Q will pull the plug on it quick. Time to transform and roll out. Let's go Hawks.