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Shave Your Kitty: Hawks at Panthers Preview/Pregame Thread/Tanning Party

Images_medium  vs. Sex_panther_medium
GAMETIME: 6:30pm Central
TV/RADIO: CSN, WGN Radio
Vice City Report: Litter Box Cats

The Hawks begin the sweaty, tanny, model-y, lots of guys in white suites Florida two-step tonight in Sunrise (wherever the hell that might be) for a date against the stripped for parts by Tallon Panthers. While I'm sure it's a nice break for the beat writers who we love so, and perhaps some beach time for the players, there is some business to attend to. Though they've won eight in a row, the Hawks are only one point clear of Dallas in fifth and five points clear of the ninth place Wild. If you've got the pedal down, you might as well keep it going. And now I'm having horrific visions of the Hawks beat crew on the beach. Ouch (with all apologies to Tracey Myers).

I can't sit here and drum up some imaginary threat from this team. And while I don't want to be rude to our friends at The Litterbox, they do an excellent job, how many different ways can I say the Panthers blow? They're not Senators bad, they at least try every night, but 13th in the East and one point ahead of the traveling freak show that the Isle have become doesn't speak to a generational force, does it? Strangely, the Panthers are actually somewhat halfway okay decent at keeping the puck out of their net. They're in the top half in goals against, and the Hawks will get a look at Tomas Vokoun tonight, who's still an excellent shot stopper. It's kind of a wonder that Tallon didn't cash in on him at the deadline, but he was probably asking a princely sum and no one wanted to pay it. They also have the third-ranked penalty kill, which is odd.

But this team scores about as much as a high-school age McClure. Or Fels. Or Killion. None of us did that well in high school. Neither did you, so whatever. That was the point. Anyway, the Panthers have David Booth and Stephen Weiss, who are nice players, but not exactly instruments of death. There's a pretty nifty defenseman back there in Dimitry Kulikov who is somehow +6 on this team. I've always like Niclas Bergfors, but he's on his third team now and appears to have stalled. Second line center Mike Santorelli has 17 goals, and I know Preds fans were holding out hope for him one day. But past that? And a fine Rusty Olesz to you, too (and now he's clearly scoring twice tonight as the Fels schtugy runs into high gear).

But doesn't this scream a game where the Hawks just don't bother with? Can't you see them getting caught looking forward to a date with division challengers Tampa and Washington? Even with what you can expect to be a home crowd on the road at the BankAtlantic Center (I'd rather not do anything with the Atlantic, thank you), I just get this itchy feeling that the Hawks won't much get out of second gear. And even that might be enough, as the opponent is reeling with losing seven of eight.

But the Hawks do need the points. Nine is better than eight.