Game time: 7:30PM
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Just when we thought the Hawks were going to emerge from the abyss of mediocrity, an injury to captain Jonathan Toews
is now threatening to yank the Hawks right back in. If Tuesday's effort in St. Louis is any indication of what's in store, make sure you've stocked up on an inhuman amount of Jameson. Things don't lighten up tonight for the Hawks with the San Jose Sharks
paying their first visit to West Madison St. since some hardware got handed out in front of them. These Sharks, coming off two straight losses after winning four in a row, while formidable, are not the regular season juggernaut of recent vintage, entering tonight's action with a 19-13-5 record, good for 43 points, same as the Hawks. As expected, Joe Thornton
and Dany Heatley
lead the way with 34 and 33 points respectively, comprising San Jose's top line along with Patrick Marleau
, he of the ghastly -16. These numbers are a far cry from what they've all historically put up, though they're always a threat. Joe Pavelski
usually pivots the second line, however he did not make the trip, and neither did forward Torrie Mitchell. Ryane Clowe
(you've got two extra e's there, dick) has been the Sharks' most consistent forward, with a team best +8 and 33 points himself, and Logan Couture
has made good on the promise he was billed as having. On defense, things have gotten even less stable than they were at the beginning of the year with cro-magnon Douglas Murray
currently missing time, though their blue line was a concern even going into this season, and Murray appears to be playing tonight. Dan Boyle
plays a hefty 27 minutes a night, and he's playing more of those minutes in his own end, something he prefers not to do. Antti Niemi
will get the start in net tonight, and to the shock of the SCH staff, his return didn't precipitate yet another David Haugh column lamenting his loss and demadning and explanation for it. Niemi's been better lately than he was at the beginning of the year, improving his save percentage to an even .900, but his GAA is still bloated at 3.08. He's seen the puck well in both games against the Hawks so far this year and that has to change tonight.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, as expected, with Toews out, the forwards are an absolute clusterfuck. Fernando Pisani remaining out with an illness also complicates matters. From the morning skate, it appeared as though Brouwer, Stalberg, and Kopecky were a line, Dowell between the Patricks, Bolland, Hossa, and Bickell, and some combination of Skille, Johnson, Scott, and Hendry. Frankly, that lineup makes me itchy as hell. There's no reason for Sharp not to be in the middle (or at the point on the power play) with Toews out, and these four centers have all the potential in the world to get fist fucked at the faceoff dot tonight. But if there's one consolation, it could be completely different by game time, and then completely different again by the second period. None of it really matters though if Duncan Keith hasn't extracted his head from his ass. With Toews out, Dunc is going to need to dictate things for the Hawks, and to do so he'll have to calm the fuck down by about 700%, and avoid the opposition's shin pads while shooting. Marty Turco gets his third straight start in net tonight, and hopefully the guys in front of him decide to pay him back for keeping them in a game they had no right to be that close in on Tuesday. It's going to be a messy, weird, likely ugly affair tonight at the UC, and the Hawks still desperately need the points. Time to dig deep. Let's go Hawks.