There I Go, Playing The Song Again: Hawks at Oilers Preview/Pregame Thread/Carpet-Baggers Union Meeting

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GAMETIME: 8:30 pm Central


The Very, Very Cold: The Copper N' Blue

After all the stories about how they really need to get out on the road, and all the claims of how much simpler their game is when they are in the whites, and how much they're looking forward to wrestling in the hotel in their underwear or how Seabrook is totally whipped, the Hawks get to prove it beginning tonight. While I won't say that this road trip will define the season, it certainly may come close. A good trip, say, 8 of the 12 points that are on offer these two weeks, and things will look pretty rosy heading into a home-heavy December. But say things go balls up? Then the Hawks will be almost out of time to turn things around, and the playoffs very well may start for the Hawks Jan. 1.

They couldn't ask for a more welcoming start than the ol' Alberta two-step. Despite pulling the maximum four points out of the UC this year, let's not mistake the Oilers for a good team. They are not. Nikolai Harvey Bird Man is rocking a .750 SV% in his last three games. They've given up 25 goals in their last four games, and that includes losses against the Canes, Rangers, and Devils (thorn in my pride!), who aren't parading around hockey's Mount Olympus these days (I knew a girl once named Olympus. Things were tough for her). The only team that seemingly can't crack this skull is the Hawks, and it's not some bad matchup or style of play. It's simply caring. If you even hint at getting in the Oilers face, suggest that you might work hard along the boards, and whisper you're going to work, the Oilers will simply go away.

But the Hawks haven't done that. They've done the one thing that will allow you to get beat by Edmonton. That's turning off, mental mistakes, and letting the talent that the Oilers have (which isn't insignificant) have space to do their thing. Jordan Eberle, Magnus Pajaarvi, Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, and Taylor Hall will hurt you if you allow them to. Make them work in their own end? YA HA TIME!

As for the Hawks, though Troy Brouwer sat out practice yesterday he took the morning skate so one would have to guess it'll be the same lineup that beat the Ducks on Sunday, one of the better Hawk efforts this year. Bolland will continue to make Hossa and Sharp work to get the puck back after he loses another faceoff, and Rattlehead will be flanking Daydream Nation. You can debate whether the Dowell-Skille-Bickell line is your third or fourth line, doesn't matter.

Look, this doesn't take much analysis. If the Hawks walk into Rexhall Place and put in the effort, and simplify the game a little, they'll win. Any amount of pucks right now on Khabibulin will result in goals. He leaves rebounds just dying to be put away. They scream to. It would be inhuman to not deposit those rebounds. And the Oil defense doesn't have anyone to keep you from getting there if you want to. Want to. That's all that's required these first two games of the trip. So...want to.