What Do You Need That For, Dude?: Thrashers at Hawks Preview/GDT/Lebowski Fest

Tk-thrasher-cover_medium vs. Images_medium


TV/RADIO: WGN for both

Where the South Rises Again: Bird Watchers Anonymous

And now, the final curtain. Well, for two weeks that is. The Hawks head into the Olympic break with a back-to-back against two opponents they should beat. But that doesn't mean it'll be easy, as the Thrash are a tougher out then they look and then the Hawks will have to fight Bus-Is-Running-Itis tomorrow afternoon in Ohio. Still, anything short of four points from these games would be a disappointment. Get that, and the Hawks will have gathered 9 of the 12 points on offer this month, and we really wouldn't argue with that.

Atlanta comes in off a victory in Minnesota last night, and they're 2-1-1 since sending Kovalchuk to New Jersey. The two main acquisitions from that, Oduya and Bergfors, are playing quite well. Especially Bergfors, who has three goals in the four games he's been in blue (I think it's blue, you tell me what color that is if it's not). The aged-Moose Johan Hedberg got the win last night, so expect youngster Ondrej Pavelec to be in between the pipes tonight. The Thrashers are a more interesting team than you think. Think of them as a Southern, less talented version of the Sabres. They have a raft of undersized, quick forwards who buzz all around the rink. They have four defensemen who could be considered puck-movers in Oduya, Tobais Enstrom, Pavel Kubina, and even Ron Hainsey, and they love to push the pace of the game.

Keep a special eye on Evander Kane. He's the youngest player in the league, but he seems to be finding his feet now. He terrorized the Wild last night, including scoring a beauty of a goal, beating Niklas Backstrom top shelf from the circles.

That said, this team isn't going to be confused with a stud defensive squad. They give up 33 shots a game, and Pavelec's GAA is over 3. John Anderson is not going to show up here and have his team trap, so we could get a real track meet tonight. The Hawks have struggled with aggressive forechecks recently, but if our d-men return to anything resembling top form in transition, there will be opportunities galore. In addition, with the Thrashers having played last night and this being their last game before the break, you wonder if the Hawks get an early lead if the Thrash won't suffer from the same affliction the Hawks will have to watch out for tomorrow.

Tonight will also mark the debut of Kim Johnsson (Driver #8 for those keeping score) McClure pretty much summed up my feelings on the deal yesterday. I'm still a fan of Cam Barker, and dread the day when he finally blossoms and we have to deal with all the "How could we get rid of this guy?" debates. Won't that be fun? But I like Johnsson, especially on a 3rd pairing. Anttii Niemi gets his third start in a row, and the Hawks have just called up Bryan Bickell for tonight as Eager and Madden are out. And we like Bickell around these parts.

For those heading down, remember to pick up an Indian so I can pay for all the beer I plan on drinking on my first night of vacation, and for those who aren't remember you can pick one up here through that link on the left.

Let's Go Hawks

Update: According to Sassone, Jordan Hendry will be suiting up in place of Brent Sopel, who is resting an injured foot. This could very well be your post-deadline third pairing, ladies and germs, so keep an eye on it.