No Time For Love Dr. Jones: Hawks at Canucks Preview/Pregame Thread/Ring Dip Ladder

200px-road_warrior_hawk_medium vs. Captain-canuck_medium
FACEOFF: 9pm Central
TV/RADIO: WGN for both

Well, the All Star Break is truly over now. No feeling your way back into it after a week off.

The Hawks tonight have to break three trends. The first is that they're 1-6 in their last seven games against teams over .500 (thank you Mr. Zandberg for doing that bit of research). The second is that they've lost their last four road games. The third is that the past three seasons the Hawks and Canucks have split their four meetings, with each taking one in the other's building. Both teams have done that already this year. But I'm not John Nash, and I'm not looking for patterns in the ether.

The good news is that both Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews's music is blaring over the P.A., and they are making their way to the ring. Toews will go back to his top line role, and Sharp will get to try out a new center in Brendan Morrison. Seven years ago, I would have been royally excited by that. But whatever gas Morrison has left in the tank, it still comes with a pretty stout brain, and maybe the steps he's lost are still in the head. To boot, centering for Hossa and Sharp can be a simple task of putting the puck where it needs to go and getting out of the way.

Because of all this shuffling, the line I'm actually most intrigued to see is the third one of Kruger-Bolland-Shaw. The added spice is that Bolland has really made a nest for himself tonight by joining Dave Kaplan in some moronic banter, and you can bet he'll have some attention drawn to him. On the hockey side of it, Bolland had developed a really strong chemistry with Brunette and the now demoted Hayes, doing some excellent work around the net. He'll have to start over, but this pint-sized unit has the potential of being one of the more annoying lines the Hawks have ever iced. But it's that lack of size that's a bit of a worry.

Corey Crawford gets the start, and we can only hope the break has done his gray matter a world of good. We know he'll face a barrage from the off tonight.

As for the Canucks, they're repeating the tactic of the last time these two danced in B.C. I guess the general feeling in Vancouver was that Luongo had one too many mai tais and a little too much sun over the break, so they'll let him simmer on the bench and the Ginger will get the start. There's really no drop off between the two these days, so this can't be considered a break.

The Canucks have gotten back to their chair at the top of the Northwest, after being out for shopping and errands and letting the other children of that division get to play dad for a bit before fading back into the much from whence they came. They have no injury concerns, and will be at full strength.

It'll be match-y upp-y-paloosa tonight, as Alain Vigneault will do everything he can to get The Children of The Corn away from Marlboro 72 (it's a strange language we speak here) and onto Nick Leddy and Niklas Hjalmarsson, which will cause blood to flood our retinas. Coach Quenneville will do what he can to stop that. Even if he does, that second pairing that has caused the angina to irritate are going to have to deal with Ryan Kesler, and while he's been off from his science lab experiment gone wrong form of last year, he still scares the shit out of most of us.

I'd say this would be an excellent way to kick off this three week odyssey across the continent that the Hawks embark on, but they started the last long road trip with a win at Towel Center and then proceeded to cough up any number of hairballs in Alberta. That's a worry for the weekend. Tonight is all that matters right now.

I'm sure the Twitter will be a very civil place tonight...