Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends: Hawks at Stars Preview/Pregame Thread/Record Release Party
TV/RADIO: Comcast, WGN 720
Longhorn Lounge: Defending Big D
Where You're Watching: With Us, At The Bottom Lounge (1375 W. Lake)
Look at that, it's our first game preview of the year. Bingo, how exciting!
The season starts tonight, and an already somewhat dinged up Hawks squad takes the ice at either the American Airlines Center or American Airlines Arena. Whichever one it's not, that's the one in Miami. Not that it really matters. The building where eventually the Mavericks will raise a banner. Maybe. And it's doubtful the Stars will be raising one any time soon.
Anyway, the Hawks are without Viktor Stalberg, Dave Bolland, and Ben Smith tonight. Q remains hopeful that Bolland can take the ice tomorrow at home, but he also remains hopeful that Zeppelin might reunite. Optimistic fellow, that one. Either way, Brandon Pirri looks set to center Michael Frolik and Bryan Bickell. As for the rest, the Hawks will dress every d-man that can actually put right foot in front of the left one (sit down, John Scott), and Jamal Mayers and Rusty Olesz will just be line-sluts (shacking up with everyone at some point).
The Stars aren't completely healthy themselves, as Nicklas Grossman and Adam Pardy are both out. Adam Burish also is taking the night off, most likely to join both broadcast teams at some point as he prepares for his quickly on-rushing TV career.
Not that there's all that much on the Stars to begin with. After losing Brad Richards, the Stars only elected to sign a checking center to replace him in Vern Fiddler (or more likely, could only afford to sign him. They don't exactly have an owner at this point, one of the many teams that are set adrift in the Sea of Tom Hicks's Utter Incompetence). They also brought in Radek Dvorak and Michael Ryder, and it's probably at this point that you're letting out a "meh." So are Stars fans.
There's still Mike Ribeiro, and we all die a little inside whenever he scores against us. Jamie Benn is taking the center role for Loui Eriksson, who is probably the main danger on this team. On the backend is pretty-good-but-not-as-good-as-Stars-fans-think Stephane Robidas. He's paired with Alex Goligoski, who was acquired in a trade from Pittsburgh for James Neal in a deal (yep, went there) that those in Texas are going to regret in a hurry. And I've always liked Goligoski, but I'm still waiting for him to pan out to what I and Pens fans thought he would be. With Grossman and Pardy out though, past that top pair it's the serviceable Trevor Daley and then a rough collection of coughed up phlegm and mucous. Attack! Kill!
They're backstopped by Kari Lehtonen, who had himself a nice little bounce-back season last year. But when he dipped just a bit, the Stars went with him. But he is capable of stealing a game, and did so to the Hawks on occasion last year.
The Stars took three of the four games last year, including an embarrassing 5-0 defeat in Dallas that may have been the nadir of last season (the fact that there are so many contenders for that award make me so happy that this season is starting). There's also the little fact of the Stars tripping over their own dick in the last game of the year to let the Hawks into the playoffs. So this one has some spice.
It'll be better for everyone if the Hawks get off to a great start. This October schedule is anything but challenging, and it starts with a double header against a team that likely won't sniff the playoffs with a collection of beagles and bassets. Sadly, the Hawks have dropped their last four openers. Let's see if that trend can stop tonight.
Come on aboard, we're here to guide you for the next six to eight months. Plenty of room, but you might want to avoid the bathroom in the back.