FACEOFF: 11-Goddamn-30 in the AM
TV/RADIO: NBC, And The Loop 97.9FM (What?)
GOOD GOD DON’T GO THERE: St. Louis Gametime
Thanks to NBC and their desire to not have to go against the Masters, both teams get to play a game that starts in the AM that of course in no way effects the play or entertainment value of the product because of course these players are so accustomed to being ready to go full bore when they’d usually either be just finishing or just starting a morning fucking skate. What a pleasure.
Anyway, the Hawks and Blues engage today, but there isn’t quite the usual heat in this one that these two teams would usually cause. With the Ducks losing last night, the Hawks are two regulation wins or losses by the Ducks plus another point gained/lost by Anaheim from wrapping up the West. If they care about the President’s Trophy, they’ve got a two point lead and two games in hand on that. If it isn’t all wrapped up now, it probably will be by this time next week.
As for the Blues, they’re not completely clear of the rabble around the 8-seed, but have a three point gap and two games in hand no most of them. A slide now would see the waters get choppy for them, but even a middling finish and they’ll easily make the playoffs, where they can look forward to a series with Vancouver in an all time asshat-off or getting clocked by the Kings again.
News this morning has Dave Bolland returning, and Patrick Sharp not playing due to an upper body injury. So the Hawks lose a forward and gain…..well, they lose an important forward. Interesting to see where Bolland slots in. Does he move Kruger or Handzus down? Either way, now there’s no one to take the draws on the second line, so we can look forward to them chasing all morning. Now would be a decent time to get Kane on the top line for a whole game and let Hossa and Frolik chase for Kruger/Bolland. But I’m not counting on any of it, and I can get more Carcillo on the top six, which you know I love dearly. But I’ll focus on that instead of panicking about Sharp, who the Hawks will need come April 30, and badly.
As for the Blues, it was looking pretty rosy after the acquisitions of Jordan Leopold (Leopold! Leopold!) and Jay Bouwmeester. It allowed Barret Jackman to be put in the misfit toys closet where he belongs, and gave them more mobility on the back end. Brian Elliot managed three shutouts in a row, and we were told everything was back to normal. Of course, it came unstuck against Columbus, with Jay Gallon giving up four on 19 shots.
That said, what goes on in front of either Elliot or Jay Gallon is far more important. With a very solid top two pairings now, the Blues can really shut you out shot-wise. And they’re not nearly as easily hassled into turnovers as all of J-Bow, Kirk Shattenkirk, Alex Orange Jello, and Leopold! Leopold! can skate.
Up front, you know the drill. No stars, Oshie’s hurt, but just enough pluggers and workers to make your life hell if you aren’t tight with your defensive and break out positioning and passing. Andy McDonald or Alex Steen can probably be counted on for a really annoying goal.
You’d like to say it doesn’t matter, but it always matters to the Blues. It’s a delicate balance for them. If they keep to the plan and just get on the Hawks physically and don’t let their brain drip out their ears, they make the ice awfully small. If they once again use the fury of their illiterate, sweat-while-eating fandom that would rather be by a trash can fire or attending the funeral of a middling Cardinal reliever from the 80s as an excuse to prove their “manhood”, they’ll run out of position and leave large gaps everywhere as well as donate a few power plays (that the Hawks won’t do anything with, but in theory).
For the Hawks, it’s another chance to fine-tune some things against a team that you very well might see in round 2 or 3 (possibly 1). It’s a good test to see if the Hawks can produce when the game turns into rugby ruck after rugby ruck.
And if they don’t? Eh, whatever.
We’re still working on the gremlins that are screwing with out timing of threads. But seeing as how I’ll be at home for this one, I’ll launch them manually today. So we shouldn’t have any problems.