Comin' Home - Hawks vs Blues Preview, Pregame Thread, Sinus Draining
Game time: 7:00PM (Early national TV start)
TV/Radio: Versus, WGN-AM 720
Where Eagles Dare (The Misfits one): St. Louis Game Time
Well, that was fun wasn't it? After an up and down (but mostly up) Circus Trip, the Ramblin Boys of Pleasure finally take the likely shitty United Center ice again tonight for the first time in 16 days, going 4-2-0 on their trip. Tonight they'll welcome in a familiar foe, the hemmoroidal St. Louis Blues. While the Blues started hot, losing only once in regulation in their first 12 games, they've only won 3 of their last 10, and have regressed a bit to their mean. Not helping things is the loss of T.J. Oshie, their most energitic forward and leading scorer prior to breaking his wrist late in a dick-kicking suffered at the hands of the Blue Jackets. David Perron, he of the 4 goals in 2 games already against the Hawks, will also be out for tonight's game with a concussion. So that puts Andy McDonald, Alex Steen, and Brad Boyes on the Blues top line. McDonald paces the Blues with 17 points on 8 goals and 9 assists, and the Blues are pretty thin on scoring past that, as they only have 5 other skaters with 5 goals or more. Overall, the team is 23rd in scoring at just 2.5 goals per game, but have been defensively stout. Though Jaroslav Halak has come back to earth with a .911 save percentage and 2.37 GAA, but is aided by the fact that the Blues limit opponents to a league-best 26.9 shots per game. The blue line is led as usual by Erik Johnson, though perennial shit-eater Barrett Jackman leads the team in plus/minus with a +7, though he missed about three weeks during which the team floundered. As always, he'll likely be attemtping some unsavory shit with Patrick Kane that won't get called, and the usual cast of delinquents of Cam Janssen, B.J. Crombeen, and Brad Winchester will no doubt do the same with the rest of the Hawks.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, it seems Lady Luck hath given them the finger once more...or something. Coming off what was probably the Hawks most complete effort of the year in a victory against L.A., Marian Hossa was injured in practice by Nick Boynton, who keeps finding new and creative ways to be a detriment to his team and as a result piss me off. Hoss' absence creates an opportunity for Jeremy Morin, who has been recalled from Rockford and will skate on a line with Troy Brouwer and Patrick Sharp, and will be the line to watch. This will also affect the top power play unit, though I haven't seen who is expected to take Hossa's place. It's this writer's hope that it falls to Viktor Stalberg who skated well during the road trip but had little to show for it (but Tomas Kopecky will likely see time for some inexplicable reason). Elsewhere, the lines remain pretty stable, with John Scott still skating at forward for the ailing Pope-Ah, Fernando Pisani. Tonight's opponent is one of the very few that Scott has a chance to actually be a factor against, but he's going to need to make his forthcoming 3-5 minutes of ice time count. On the blue line, the traditional pairings of Marlboro 72, Soupy and Hammer, and Boyton and Cullimore remain in place in front of Corey Crawford, starting his third in a row.
Because the Blues limit shots so well, the Hawks will need a simplified, north-south game tonight, something that's been a problem at the U.C. this year, where we're all apparently guilty of putting too much pressure on the home team to put on a show. I don't know about you, but I don't need a show as long as the result is 2 points - neither of which are given for style. If the Hawks don't figure out how to reconcile that soon with 10 of the next 13 games on West Madison, it could spell trouble with a capital F. Get off on the right foot tonight, shall we boys? Let's go Hawks.