The Ice Of Boston - Hawks at Bruins Preview, Pregame Thread, Biggest Tax Increase In History
TV/Radio: Versus (US), TSN2 (Canada), WGN-AM 720
Logan To Government Center: Stanley Cup of Chowder
So here's where the predictable reference to a ubiquitous Dropkick Murphys song is supposed to go, right? Even the team site couldn't resist doing so. But even though I have no real bone to pick with the band or the song itself, due to its association with some dickhole and being unable to avoid his doucheitude both at games and watching at home on commercials (again, I hope you're reading this), I'll not be making such a reference, easy as it may be. Though I suppose I just defeated my own purpose by doing so. In any event, the Hawks will continue their late-season road trip in Boston tonight, facing yet another in a string of curiously-scheduled Eastern Conference opponents. The B's have already clinched a playoff spot, and have all but clinched the Northeast in front of the recently impotent Habs. They've done so with a fine balance of offense and defense, scoring 3.0 goals a game, good for 5th in the league, and only allowing 2.3, which ranks 3rd. Though the offense has no one runaway leader in scoring- Milan Lucic leads in goals with 30, and David Krejci in points with 60- there is balance up and down the lineup, with 6 players having 40 or more points, and four players with 20 or more goals. One of those 20 goal scorers is rookie Brad Marchand, a third round pick from 2006, who's enjoying a breakout year, and plays like a smaller yet equally annoying version of Cal Clutterbuck. All of this has been accomplished without Marc Savard the majority of the year, who is still feeling the after-effects of one of Matt Cooke's many acts of turd burglarly last year.
On defense, things begin and end with captain Zdeno Chara. While Big Z may be slowing down just a touch at 34, he's still nigh impossible to get around our through due to his sheer size, and possesses a nasty streak that rears its head from time to time (just ask David Koci or Max Pacioretty). And that's not even to mention the fact that he has the hardest slap shot recorded in the history of the competition. Tomas Kaberle finally ended his cock tease of the Bruins and waived his NTC to join their d-corps 17 games ago, and has yielded average results with 1G-6A-7P, and is a +5 in those games. Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference (who plays way bigger than his size would indicate), Dennis Seidenberg and his goofy skate blade holders, and Adam McQuaid round out as deep a blue line as can be found out east. And once the Hawks get through them, they'll have to get the puck past Tim Thomas, who'll assuredly be a Vezina finalist come year's end, if not win the damn thing again at 37. Though his numbers have cooled from their modern era record pace of early in the season, his .939 save percentage and 2.00 GAA still lead the league in both categories, and that's just flat out nasty.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, even after yesterday's dramatic win against Scum, they still find themselves in 8th in the west, getting no help from the Avalanche as Teemu Selanne managed to piss off Hawk fans in yet another new and exciting way in his advanced age. With many of the Hawks key components logging heavy minutes last night (Hossa 24:00, Toews 23:00, Keith 27:30, Seabrook 24:30, Kane 22:30, Campbell 25:00), one has to wonder how much gas could possibly be in the tank. This is further exacerbated by the physical style the Bruins play, very similar to that of the Ducks, and one the Hawks have shown to have problems with recently. As much as Joel Quenneville will want to keep Nick Leddy from getting his balls gnawed off by Bruin forecheckers in the corners, he's going to have to be out there more than the 6:12 he was last night if the other blue liners are going to be able to remain upright. From all reports the lineup will be remaining the same as it was last night, including Corey Crawford in net.
Tonight presents yet another challenge for the Hawks to play a smart, North-South game to be able to generate offense, one we've seen them employ before against the similarly constructed Calgary Flames. This will mean soft chips at the center stripe or Bruin line, and speed to the outside to retrieve the puck. Of course after that comes the test of Thomas, who, like all goalies doesn't appreciate someone's cornhole in his face when he's trying to stop the puck, so bodies need to be arriving in waves at his doorstep. On top of traffic, Thomas plays an unorthodox style similar to that of Dominik Hasek, so if it's available, waiting the extra second to go high and under the bar may prove the best route.
Once again, there can be no margin for error with numerous other games of import taking place in the west. Though Dallas and Calgary's hopes may be fading, they're not dead yet, and nothing is guaranteed for the Hawks over the remaining 7 games. The only guarantee is that tonight they'll be facing one badass motherfucker of a team (who Fels picked to represent the East in June), and it's going to take discipline, effort, and execution to exact two points from them. Let's go Hawks.