TV/RADIO: CSN for the locals, VS. for the national following, Some Canadian Station for the rest, WGN Radio
Maybe this won't work if I call it out, but I'm going to go on a rant here that should assure that John Scott will actually do something useful tonight, like provide a screen on a dumb goal, and all the knuckle draggers and mouth breathers can make fun of me in the gamethread. You have been warned.
Right then. News out of the morning skate is that Coach Quenneville's ulcers have apparently moved to his brain and John Scott will dress tonight. I don't even know where to begin on this one. It's pretty much the most perfect and sad statement on this season that in a game the Hawks cannot lose they will turn to a mountainous goon who can't do anything resembl....scratch that, who can't do. He'll get three minutes in which we can only hope the Canucks fourth line doesn't skate him into an Elmer Fudd like tizzy, and then he'll yap from the bench while the other 11 forwards have to make up the minutes after they've already proven they pretty much don't have the legs to skate with the league's best team.
Could Jake Dowell have skated at wing? I know he's been nothing for most of the year, but he can at least move. Size you want? Rob Klinkhammer is here and has size, and I know that's an unknown but at least he can move, I assume. But no, Coach Quenneville has opted to try a guy who theoretically is supposed to stir up a Canucks team that looks like it can't be stirred up. I imagine there's a few giggles being shared in the Nucks room right now as they hear the news, and they must wonder how a defending champ got to this point. I'll let the ever quotable and usually assholic but this time on point Kevin Bieksa sum it up:
When a 6-8 guy challenges you that can't skate? U usually say no and go around him and score.
Thank you, sir.
As for the rest of the game, well, it's hard to think about considering the blinding rage I'm feeling at the moment. But I'll try. After those string of must-wins the last two weeks, the Hawks find themselves in the real, genuine article tonight. That cold black cloud isn't coming down yet, but it's certainly stretching and warming up to do so. Lose tonight, and it will descend upon you.
We've tried to break down what the Hawks can do tactically all series long, by now you surely know them by heart. Let's focus on what the Hawks have done well so far and know they must repeat. They've stayed out of the box generally, with only Patrick Sharp's retaliatory silliness being the unnecessary penalty. They've kept the Canucks from getting second and third chances for the most part, either through excellent rebound control by Corey Crawford and the defense getting one thing right and clearing them. And....well....at the end of Game 2 they were actually getting to the net, or at least the line comprised of Ben Smith, Marcus Kruger, and Bryan Bickell was.
Not much else to offer from there, though. Quite simply the Hawks best players, as fatigued as they may be, have to hump it up tonight. There's no secret to that. With the last change, one guesses that Coach Q will again deploy Toews against the Sedins, and he, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp (if that's how things stay) have to get the better of it. Not the easiest thing in the world to do, but not out of the question.
And the power play needs to come back from Never Never Land or wherever it's drinking cocktails with little funny hats, and be something resembling an NHL unit.
I have to believe that as up against it as they are, the core of this team is too proud to not go out on their shields this series. Maybe they know deep down they're already finished, and this will just be a ritual sacrifice the next two games. But I don't believe that. Whatever it's going to be, the Hawks have to take their best swing tonight. Whether it's enough or not, we'll just have to find out.