Baby Steps To The Elevator: Preds at Hawks Game 1 Preview/Pregame Thread/Brewery Piss-Up

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GAMETIME: 7:30pm Central

TV/RADIO: CSN/ VS. joining in progress, WGN RADIO 720

Honky Tonk Bar: On The Forecheck

IT'S HERE IT'S HERE IT'S HERE IT'S HERE!!! The day we've been waiting for what seems like eons has arrived. Our journey to the most memorable night of our lives (if you have nothing important in your life like me) begins tonight on the West Side. We can only imagine the players themselves are also jonesing to get out there, they've been asked about what begins tonight since at least the Convention.

Last year, after Game 1 between the Penguins and Flyers, McClure said to me, "If the Pens are going to play like that, they're going to win it." That's what I want tonight. I want to see the Hawks come out and have one of those first periods that no team can live with. The kind we saw in Game 5 against the Flames here last spring, or the 1st period we saw against the Canucks in March. Let the Preds know just how deep they're in from the get-go. If the Hawks come out with flames exuding from their nostrils, I doubt the Preds can live with it.

First thing to watch is where do Suter and Weber go. Are they seriously going to turn the Toews-line assignment over to Dan Hamhuis and Cody Franson? Oh god, I think I just got aroused. Sure, maybe Weber and Suter could completely snuff out Kane-Bolland-Brouwer and get the Preds started the other way. Or maybe Kane brought his "I'm going to rip your fucking heart out" mode that we saw last spring, and then they don't have a chance. The chess game begins tonight.

Ok Preds fans, you're not a trapping team. So why don't you go ahead and try and run-and-gun with us? We know you won't, and both McClure and I will be taking pictures of every time there are five Preds in the neutral zone. The Hawks are going to have to be smart, dump the puck in and do their best to outwork the Preds in their zone. They can, and hopefully Versteeg is on board as well. In their zone, the Preds are going to rely on forcing mistakes from our blueliners, and with Buff back there that's always a possibility. Again, patience and intelligence are the names of the day. This game could be 0-0 for a while, and the Hawks can't force anything as that's exactly what Nashville is looking for.

If the Hawks are getting out of their zone crisply, if Brouwer and Ladd are giving Pekka Rinne a fine sniff of their ass on a regular basis, if Toews and Hossa are simply terrorizing the Preds, then the Hawks will be a long way to a Game 1 victory. The house will be rocking, and I can't fucking wait.

Drop. The. Puck.