GAMETIME: 9pm Central
TV/RADIO: Vs. for the non-Chicagoans, CSN for the Chicagoans, 560 WIND-AM for the audio connoisseurs
Those stretching their trash-throwing arms as we speak: Nucks Misconduct
No one will care how you got in if you do something with it.
And the Hawks can begin the process tonight as they kick off this country backyard brawl with our continuing foil the Vancouver Canucks. All the stop-starts, the throwing of our hands in the air, the exasperation, the defeated tones, the Hawks can begin to erase all that tonight. Are there enough bullets in the chamber? Do the Hawks have a resource to tap now that they went the opposite way from the white light even while wearing a DNR tag? The answers are coming, Neo.
It appears that Troy Brouwer is going to give it a go, but I'll be shocked if Dave Bolland does. Though neither has been cleared for contact, you can probably get around that for Brouwer. But considering the length and nature of Bolland's absence one would have to believe he has more hurdles to leap over before he is let on the ice.
So where does that leave us for Game 1? You'd have to guess that as matchy-uppy as Quenneville like to get, even on the road, the task of shackling The Children of The Corn will fall to Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, with Sharp. I think we all are ok with this, as if nothing else it will force the Canucks top line in their own end at least some of the time, and Hossa and Toews are more capable playing defensive hockey than the Sedins are when it comes to that. It's after that where it gets hairy, or when Q can't get them out there to face the Twin Towers of Swedish Weirdness.
I suppose if Quenneville had his way, the oddly-numbered Smurfs of Ben Smith, Michael Frolik, and Patrick Kane will be out there against Ryan Kesler's line. While at first this seems like it's going to require a lot of shots of Powers to be able to watch, it might not be as bad as we think. The high-digited pygmies were able to go toe-to-toe with Valtteri Filppula's line the past two games, and those aren't slouches either. It wouldn't favor us, but it could work out.
But when the Hawks third and fourth lines are out there, not only do they have to keep from getting their skulls caved in but they have to actually produce something. The Hawks won't survive this if all the goals are only coming from the top line. With Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen down there, the Hawks won't have a speed advantage. The game could very well be lost right here.
I can't shake the feeling that the Canucks are going to come out in the 1st period with an urgency and lust for blood that we haven't seen not only from them but from anyone. This is their year. Everything is set up for them. It is on them to prove that their regular season wasn't just some mirage in the desert. They have to go out and take it. They're going to be throwing the biggest right hook they can early. Getting through that without a black eye and clinging to the ropes for support will be key. The Hawks cannot track-meet this. Sad to say, they just don't have enough guns to do so against the Blue and Green Garbage Throwers. Make them go 200 feet again and again. Try and get them to turn it over in their zone. Keep it tight and let the strain and pressure grow. And for the love of God, do not take any penalties that you don't absolutely have to. Just the momentum created from a string of Canuck power plays, even if they don't score, could be too much.
Because if you can sneak this one, things open up. Win tonight, Bolland returns Friday, and all the gremlins that may still be around might come out and play. Win tonight, and force the Canucks to play a game they have to have on Friday, ramp up the volume in their heads, watch the collective anus tighten, and just see if this new-found even keel they claim they have is for real. While not pushing them to the edge, give them a brief glimpse of the Abyss, and see if they can keep from throwing themselves into it. They're 0-for-2 so far.
If you want more encouragement, and you do, the Hawks also have two proven playoff game breakers in Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The Canucks still have no waist for that belt, yet. Marian Hossa, though now with a ring, still has two rather disappointing playoff performances to beat down (he played well but didn't score enough last spring, mind). Lord knows he must be itching. Find another hero. It can be done.
And now, while not having much to do with anything, this oddly inspiring and totally awesome video of Jake the Snake