6 vs. 6 @ 6 - Blackhawks @ Devils: Preview/Pre-Game Thread/Exorcism

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Game Time: 6:00PM
TV/Radio: CSN/WGN720
Run For The Hills: In Lou We Trust

Yes, it's the number of the beast game tonight out in Newark (and Newark is a great substitute for Hell) as the sixth seed in each conference square off at 6:00PM Central just for good measure. Both teams are coming in attempting to forget their last outing. Obviously we know what happened to the Hawks as they got the Anti-DLR treatment (The Don Henley?). The Devils are have dropped two in a row now though, one to the Leafs in the shootout and one to the Penguins where they gave up 5. Losing to the Penguins isn't much of a shock but not being able to grab that extra point against the Leafs must sting a little bit.

In general, the Devils are in a bit of a slump, losing 4 of their last 5 games. Though again, two of those were to the Pens and one to the Rangers. They aren't exactly facing the easiest competition at the moment. The disconcerting fact for the Devils has to be the amount of goals they've given up in their last 4 losses. For the season, they're 11th overall, allowing only 2.58 goals per game but in 5 games they've given up 17 goals. Their lone win was a shutout of the Senators with Johan Hedberg between the pipes. The Devils have already confirmed it'll be Marty Brodeur in the net tonight. Fatty Fatso hasn't had the easiest time this year as the reasons to retire seem to be adding up. He's on pace for his worse GAA since the 05-06 which would be his second worst of his career. The Devils are the team with something to lose at this point though. Neither team is likely to move further up in the standings but the Devils could very easily slip down. While the Hawks have a decent 5 point cushion between them and whoever doesn't win the Pacific, the Devils are getting pressured from the Senators who sit only two points behind (though have played an extra game).

As always, it's defense that leads the way for New Jersey. While they aren't the juggernaut they once were they still depend on keeping the puck out of their own net rather than putting a lot in themselves. The win over the Senators last week showed they can still pull it out when the pressure's on but it's getting imperative for them to start winning again unless they want to slip in the rankings.

As for the Blackhawks, Craw will be right back out there tonight. While his game wasn't pretty against the Preds, it's the right move to go back to him immediately. We're all tiring of the goalie roller coaster we've been on so hopefully Craw can put the last game behind him and find the confidence he's shown in the games leading up to it. If not, the starting position is still anyone's guess and time is running out. UPDATE: Actually, just saw via the beats that Emery isn't even making the trip out to Jersey due to the dreaded UBI. If this is something serious then it looks like Craw may have won the starting job by the two sweetest words in the English language. De fault. Something called Carter Hutton has been called up for Rockford. Pray he's not needed.

The other big news is the possible return of Steve Montador. According to Tracey Myers at the morning skate, it looks like Montador is going to play. Would have to guess it's for O'Donnell.

The Hawks couldn't have asked for a worse opponent than the Predators to face in their first game missing both Keith and Toews. The Devils aren't going to make things much easier but they shouldn't give the Hawks the fits the Preds do. While the Hawks may feel secure in their position, it's no time for them to take their foot off the gas simply because they're missing a healthy chunk of what makes them a successful team. The rest of the games aren't going to get any easier and nothing is a sure thing yet. Let's get two.

Let's Go Hawks