Home For The Holidays - Avalanche vs Hawks Preview, Pregame Thread, Tree Trimming

Avalanche_snowman_medium vs Images_medium

Game time: 7:30PM

TV/Radio: CSN+, WGN-AM 720

By-Tor And The Snow Dog: Mile High Hockey

So, here we are, on the tail end of a home-and-home with the Colorado Avalanche. Even after all the nonsense that transpired Monday night at the Pop Can, it's still the same team and same scouting report coming into tonight's tilt. We've now seen first-hand just how fast this team can be, and that's while they're missing T.J. Galiardi, Milan Hejduk, and Chris Stewart, who are all still out for tonight's action. The Avs are looking for their fourth win in a row after coach Joe Sacco put them through a bag skate not too long ago. Apparently that's how a team is supposed to respond to such coaching tactics. Monday's 7 goals, all at even strength (BARF) pushed the Avs into the top spot for scoring offense at 3.5 per, but, again, as we saw two days ago, their defense allows 3.2 per game, good for 28th in the league. Craig Anderson, who's had stronger games than we saw on Monday, but he'll still face his fair amount of shots with Colorado allowing 30.9 a game, and playing fire-wagon hockey. John-Michael Liles. who's had a resurgent, Norris-caliber campaign to this point was quiet on Monday, and it would be foolish to expect the same tonight. Keeping his opportunities from the blue line limited should be key, as should keeping Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene from doing their convulsing-monkeys-on-angel-dust victory dance.

As for our Men of Four Feathers, here's a novel concept for tonight: play defense. Better decision making, better positioning, better passing, better clearing attempts, all of it. The Avs thoroughly clowned the Hawks in their own zone Monday, so much so that Brian Campbell (correctly) declared that the entire team owed Marty Turco an apology. The best way to make amends for their play would to be to go out and improve on it. Dave Bolland returns to the lineup tonight, though to what degree he'll be a factor is up for the usual debate. It should also be noted that fans should enjoy Jeremy Morin tonight while he's here, as tonight is game 9 for him, after which he'll likely be sent back to Rockford to keep the first year of his deal from kicking in. Corey Crawford gets the starting nod tonight, and as Sam noted yesterday, hopefully his confidence isn't shaken by the late goals that he surrendered Monday. Tonight is the first game of a 5-game home stand for the Hawks in which they need to accumulate some serious points in the standings. Provided everyone's interested in defensive zone coverage tonight, grabbing two of them tonight would be a solid start to that. Let's go Hawks.