Searching For A Former Clarity - Coyotes vs Hawks Preview/Pregame Thread/Videotaped Confession

Spacecoyote_medium vs. Images_medium
Game time: 7:30 PM CST
TV/Radio - CSN, WGN-AM 720 AM
Dog(s) At Large: Five For Howling

We keep hearing it in press conferences and post game interviews, and we keep telling you here that it's going to get better. It has to, right? And continually, the Blackhawks have been making themselves, and by extension us for telling you they'll be better, look like bigger assholes with every successive disappointing performance. Tonight, once again presents an opportunity to get things headed in the right direction, this time against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Dave Tippett and the Desert Dogs (sounds like a roadhouse country band, doesn't it?) arrive on West Madison St. tonight with a record of 4-5-5, good for 13 points and last place in the Pacific Division. The Coyotes come into this game having lost 3 in a row, the latter two during extra hockey against the Pens and Scum respectively. They're currently in the bottom third of the league in scoring, goals against, penalty kill, and power play, which would lead one to believe last year was as lucky as we thought it was at the time. Zbynek Michalek's departure to Pittsburgh via free agency is clearly hurting their defense, as they're allowing 34.9 shots per game, better only than Atlanta and Anaheim league wide. This has inflated 2010 Vezina finalist Ilya Bryzgalov's GAA to robust 2.84, despite having a respectable .917 save percentage. JovoCop, Ed Jovanovski, is leading the way with 9 points from the back end, and everyone's favorite groin injury waiting to happen, Adrian Aucoin, is still logging nearly 22 minutes a game at a +5 clip. Up front, the Yotes brought back Lee Stempniak after his unholy hot streak after being traded last year, and signed what's left of Ray Whitney. Stempniak is leading them in goals...but with only four goals, and Whitney has yet to dent the twine. And if you thought you'd ever live in a world where Radim Vrbata is +3 and Patrick Sharp is -11, welcome to it. Martin Hanzal is emerging as a very serviceable shutdown center, so look for him to be out against Toews all night. Let's hope that matchup ends better than we've seen it in the past. Because this team is still coached by the reigning Adams trophy winner, they'll be disciplined, even though the numbers say they don't do anything particularly well. Bryzgalov still has all the potential in the world to slam the door early, and this team won't beat itself with penalties. Beating this team will take a focused effort, something the Hawks have yet to show 17 games into the season.

Now onto our Men of Four Feathers, exasperating as they've been. Coming off another embarassing home loss to the Oilers (who got dicked 7-1 by the Canes, last night, by the way), the panic button has been located, and the lid has been lifted, but the launch codes won't come in until after the Circus Trip. We've dissected and analyzed what the problems have been and what to do, and to do so again here would probably seriously harsh everyone's gameday buzz. So let's get to the particulars for tonight. Turco will be in net again, and according to Jahns, the top line will be comprised of Jonathan Toews, Viktor Stalberg, and bizarro Patrick Sharp. Though Dave Bolland practiced yesterday with Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane, he won't be back until Saturday, so for tonight, that duty falls to Tomas Kopecky, who's been as defensively woeful as Sharp of late. Jake Dowell will be flanked by Bryan Bickell and Jack Skille, and the fourth line will be Fernando Pisani, Troy Brouwer, and unfortunately, John Scott. Quennville's even getting itchy with the blue line, because apparently, though the pairings will start the same as they have been, he claims that Seabrook and Keith may be broken up periodically. For what purpose remains to be seen, but Q's certainly trying everything. The Hawks will have to keep it simple tonight, as the Coyotes don't beat themselves. For a W tonight, everyone's head is going to need to be on straight, rather than up their asses. We haven't seen it yet. Is tonight finally the night they break out the crowbar, jaws of life, KY, and whatever else is necessary to do so? Only one way to find out. Let's go Hawks.