GAMETIME: 8:30pm Central
TV/RADIO: CSN, WGN Radio
DRILLING FOR ANYTHING: The Copper And Blue
Not that the Hawks are sliding that badly, but they return tonight to the bottom of the season so far. We may have all washed the memory of the last trip to Rexhall place from our collective database in a wave of whiskey and perhaps some electro-shock therapy. But I hit the Re-Neuralizer and quickly retrieved what little I put up with from that 9-2 loss. I cut out after the first period then, I hope to not have to do that tonight.
That memory didn't really spur anything in the first game of 2012 which took place here. The Hawks dropped a 4-3 contest to the Oilers, a game that turned on a high-sticking double minor where Corey Crawford let in a couple of bad goals. Hopefully being back in the same building will angry up the blood a little more.
The blood shouldn't have to be that angered though. While I could find any number of ways to dress it up and phrase it differently, the fact is the Oilers suck. After spending a couple months confusing the shit out of the normal inhabitants of the West's aristocracy by intruding upon the cocktail party, the Oilers were quickly removed by the security of a 4-8-3 January. Now they're back where they really do belong, hanging out in the stables and shoveling the waste away there.
One of the players who made them not suck at times, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, is out through injury. Jordan Eberle missed some time, but is back. Taylor Hall may not have a left side to his face, but he's been in the lineup recently as well. Devan Dubnyk, coming off a 3-2 win over the Avs, will start in net, keeping Prisoner #59A4 on the bench in the toque.
For the Hawks, no fresh injuries off the OT loss in Vancouver. Corey Crawford will go. Yes, John Scott is going to dress. You know how the debate goes from here, so just pretend you've read and heard it all and move on, because you have.
There's really no excuse for having lost to the Oilers twice this season, and four of the last six. They're not big, they can't push the Hawks defense around. They don't play a defensive system, there's plenty of open ice to be found. They don't do anything particularly well. They're prone to bad decisions. With their injuries on the blue line, they ice just about two NHL quality d-men. And don't start fantasizing about the Hawks having Andy Sutton at the deadline, unless you think the only thing between them and a Cup this year is getting dumber and slower. Quite frankly, this should be one of those easy pass-throughs that the Hawks used to make routine in Edmonton like the presence was fittin'.
The Hawks didn't have the best of starts to this trip, but it was hardly the worst either. Any effort that even comes close to resembling what we saw against the Canucks should have seen off the Oilers by no more than 40 minutes in. The same holds true tomorrow. A 2-0-1 start to the trip would have half the points needed for a successful trip banked. Get the first of that two tonight.