Shoulder To The Wheel - Hawks at Blues Preview, Pregame Thread, Power Lunch
TV/Radio: WGN Ch. 9, WGN-AM 720
Fried Ravioli? Are You Fucking Serious?: St. Louis Game Time
Twenty-two and a half hours and a quick jaunt down I-55 later, the Hawks will once again have an opportunity to put together what's commonly known as a "winning streak" for those of us who haven't seen one in a while around here. In order to do so, they'll have to get past the re-energized Blues, coming off a 9-3 decimation of a Ducks team that was without Jonas Hiller, with new additions Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk jumping right into the fray, with Stewart denting the twine twice. Their arrival, or more importantly former number 1 overall pick Erik Johnson's departure, seemingly sparked what had been an otherwise disinterested lot, and they'll attempt to keep that energy going today in an effort to claw back into the race in the West. That exuberance will be further amplified with the Hawks coming into town, as the Blues always seem to crank it up an extra notch, but in doing so frequently forget the "playing hockey" aspect of the game. With Jaroslav Halak on the shelf with a blocker hand injury, look for Ty Conklin to get the nod this afternoon, whose numbers aren't exactly scintillating at an .887 save percentage and 3.14 GAA, but he does have two shutouts to his name so far and is 8-5 career against the Hawks, so he's not to be taken lightly. With EJ now in Colorado, the Blues D-corps now has more than a few nice parts, but no true #1 defender, though Alex Pietrangelo has the size and skill to evolve into that, possibly sooner than later. But, as far as physicality on the back end is concerned it certainly won't be lacking as long as Barrett Jackman is lurking, waiting to punch Patrick Kane in the back of the head. Up front, Chris Stewart adds size, speed, and finish to a forward corps that didn't have enough of all three, with our last vision of him being torching Nick Leddy up the left wing in the season opener in Colorado.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, needing a shootout against the charred remains of the Pittsburgh Penguins doesn't exactly inspire a ton of confidence, but we'll take the two points however they come these days. The top line of Kane, Toews, and Sharp has been clicking tremendously over the last two games, however they haven't gotten much help. What we thought were flashes of life from Marian Hossa last weekend have been snuffed out by two more games of not contributing offensively, and Michael Frolik has already played himself off of Hossa's line. While it might be a little early to tell, there have been no reports via the Twitters of any lineup changes, though Jesse is stating that it's likely Corey Crawford in net again. That also means the moronic D-pairs are again in tact, so Nick Leddy will once again have to gird up his loins and prepare for a rabid forecheck from Blues forwards. The fact of the matter is the Hawks need this game more than the Blues do, and they'll have to distinctively look and act so to get the two points necessary to continue to claw back into the West's top 8. It'd be an improvement over the last two games, but there's still a chance that they can get their shit together, and they had better soon since it hasn't happened at all in the last month. Let's go Hawks.