A Jumble On Both Sides: Jackets at Hawks Preview/Pregame Thread/Work Do
TV/RADIO: CSN, WGN radio
THE HOPELESS: Jackets Cannon
There's a fair amount of change on both sides tonight.
Let's start with our side. Due to Patrick Sharp's wrist putting him out of diaper-changing duty (and that could be a joke about Kaner. but I'll let you decide), the Hawks have a fair amount of line shuffling. Ben Smith was called up this morning, and at the morning skate was on the second line with Marian Hossa and Michael Folik. Either Fro or Optimus Grind could thrash about in the middle as Hossa bemusedly looks on. Honestly, I thought Fro had a pretty good game on Sunday even if he only managed an assist. He was backchecking like his career depended on it, which it probably does, and was everywhere in the offensive zone -- though that's not always a good thing. Getting shifts with Hossa could see Smith look somewhat...well, apparent, which he didn't in his last stint here. If he does, expect confetti to come spilling out of the pressbox.
The top line remains the Daydream Nation-Rattlehead combo, but I expect things to shuffle all night. While it can be frustrating at times, a game against Columbus is an excellent platform to try out all your toys in every formation. I think we'd all like to get a look at Jimmy Hayes with 19 and 88, but he'll start on the fourth line with Mayer and Brunette. Andrew Shaw takes Frolik's spot on the checking line. The defense should remain the same, though you know those big bad Jackets and their overbearing style might call for John Scott to police. Yeah, I wrote that with a straight face. Just to see if I could. Oh wait, there's the retching. Damn it. Thought I was really going to make it this time.
On the other side, the Jackets finally put down their lame horse of a coach in Scott Arniel yesterday, which could be filed in the "two months late" folder. I believe this is the third time this season that the Hawks will play a team in its first game under a new coach, having welcomed Ken Hitchcock back to the league in St. Louis and getting worked and beating the Ducks in their first game under Fuckin' Bruce Fuckin' Boudreau. Feel free to correct me in the comments if I'm wrong
Usually, when playing a team that has just changed coaches you worry about every opponent coming out with a wild hair on their ass to try and secure jobs under the new guy. Not convinced that will be the case tonight. The Jackets season ran aground before the pumpkins were even out on the porch. They've only promoted an assistant who was already there in Todd Richards, and he may be a boob anyway. This is also the last game of a four game trip for the Jackets, and they may just be looking forward to getting home and getting to the real work with Richards.
Oh, and they suck to high heaven, so any effort level might not make a difference.
Add to that they're beat up. The Duke Twins of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski are both out tonight, because they're doing that thing they both do where they get hurt a lot. Mark Letestu won't be around either, and neither will Kristian Huselius. Rick Nash is also hobbling with a case of "I could give a flying about this group so I'm just going to sit here and count my money until Brian Burke calls". It's really affected his game.
No need to over-analyze this one. As long as the Hawks don't take it for granted, it'll be quite the task to not come away with two points. They've flattened this team three times this season. But who here can guarantee the Hawks will bring their full attention? After an emotional and draining cock-up against Detroit, the Hawks seemed primed for yet another letdown. But with Sharp out, some players need to come in fuck you mode. Looking at you, Mr. Humpty Hump. Though 88 hasn't been as bad as the Italian beef soaked would have you believe, the biggest way to survive the Sharp absence is to get a dominating and sneering Patrick Kane back. While Hossa has still continued to accumulate points, a couple more I'm Marian Hossa and you're not moments would be welcome.
Need a win this month. You couldn't get a more hanging curveball than this one to get it.