Cinch It Up And Hunker Down: Hawks at Jackets Preview/Pregame Thread/Snow Funeral
TV/RADIO: CSN, WGN RADIO
Buckeye Banter: The Cannon
Well, this Chinese Fire Drill of an end of season crunch begins tonight, with probably about 3,000 in the stands due to this storm that will start the next civil war. And in reality, with the risk of sending all Jackets fans into a rage (do your worst), the Hawks really can't ask for a better platform to launch themselves into the Western Canada trail of tears then a date in Columbus.
The Jackets had a middling January record of 3-6-2, and that was after a less than impressive December. I, for one, was totally shocked that A) Mathieu Garon returned to being...well, Mathieu Garon and B) the Jackets couldn't maintain the impressive results when he did. Steve Mason continues to be Pascal Leclaire The Sequel, and it feels like Columbus is going to have to start over in goal again next season. Haven't seen who's getting the start tonight, but I have to guess Garon as the Jackets are still on the fringe of the playoff chase and need points against a fellow blob-inhabitant. Rusty Klesla is still getting over a knee injury, so he won't be diving into anyone else's knees. It's the same story with the Jackets, as Rick Nash is the weapon you have to snuff out. Do that, and you probably win. Derick Brassard is having a nice little season as Nash's center. But it's hard to pinpoint what the Jackets do well. They're bottom 10 in penalty kill, power play, goals for, and goals against. It's simply not a very good hockey team.
Ah, but the Hawks have had a habit of losing to non-good teams. And after a break, one worries about the Hawks having trouble getting going out of the gate. But they haven't been as healthy as they will be tonight as they've been all season. Marian Hossa has had a week to get over his vertigo (sounds like an excuse to get away from Kopecky). Kane and Toews haven't skated hard in a week. So now that they're done playing grab-ass with Havlat and Buff, perhaps they can get back to dominating games?
While there are no must win games in February, these are two points that need to be grabbed. The Hawks need to really ace this roadtrip, and these are the easiest two points outside of Edmonton they can get. Don't make us beg, Men of Four Feathers.