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Off The Record – Jackets vs Hawks Preview, Pregame Thread, Juice Cleanse

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Game Time:
6:00PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Woody Hayes’ Snapping Turtle: The Cannon

For as interminable as the road trip(s) of January and early February seemed, the Hawks’ seven game homestand is already reaching game six tonight, and it feels like it’s already blown by. Tonight presents the middle stanza of the rare three-games-in-four-nights-at-home that the incredibly productive lockout has now yielded, and in it the Hawks welcome the Columbus Blue Jackets to West Madison for the first time this season.

It’s an easy reaction to pity the Blue Jackets and their unending futility, but it’s largely been of their own design, namely in the form of the recently deposed Scott Howson. And it’s only fitting that Howson’s yield for the assets of Jeff Carter and alleged wiener tucker Rick Nash (Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, and Jack Johnson) are all hurt and won’t be participating in the festivities tonight. Not that any of the three of them had been setting the world on fire prior to their respective injuries. The Jackets only have two skaters in double-digit points, with young center Derick Brassard and Fedor Tyutin tied for the team lead at 10 a piece.

That doesn’t mean that this roster doesn’t come without its share of irritants, however. Hometown turd Jared Boll and Derek Dorsett will almost assuredly find themselves in the middle of some manner of altercation by game’s end, and Dorsett can actually contribute in the realm of discernable hockey skill from time to time. Cam Atkinson and Matt Calvert are speedy and would be nice parts if there were actually anything to compliment. R.J. Umberger and Nick Foligno will make their presence known on the forecheck. And familiar and unwelcome faces of James Wisniewski and Adrian Aucoin are doing whatever it is they do these days on the Jackets’ blue line.

This will all likely be in front of the death spiraling Steve Mason, as Sergei Bobrovsky played last night in St. Louis, and has started 6 of the last 8 games for the Jackets. Neither option for the Jackets is all that appetizing, as both goalies are sporting save percentages around .900, and for a team that gives up as many shots as the Jackets do (28.9 per), dat’s-a-no-good.

As for our Men of Four Feathers, with the season-starting points record now in tow, the focus should now become socking away the division, and potentially the conference as soon as possible. There are no team or personal records to be achieved that won’t come with an asterisk in this shortened season, so getting into May with everyone healthy and with home ice is has to be the ultimate focus. Naturally, things aren’t starting out on the best note in that department, as no one seems to be able to confirm what the hell exactly happened to Dave Bolland in the third period Friday, nor if he will be in uniform tonight. Though that news is apparently coming down at 4:00PM. With that in mind, it’s really anyone’s guess as to what the lines will look like if Bolland is out, but expect the defensive pairings to remain the same, with the obvious exception of the Rozy/Brookbank coinflip. One would assume Razor will get the go again tonight in net, with the wildly skilled (emphasis on wild) Oilers in the building tomorrow night.

Ultimately though, whether Bolland skates tonight shouldn’t affect the outcome of the game that much, provided the Hawks give a shit. It’s not cocky or arrogant to think that given the status of the two teams that the Hawks should walk away with two points from this with relative ease, even if everyone on both sides were healthy. That the Jackets are missing three key contributors (by their standards) and are tossing Mason out tonight only exacerbates things for them. But the Hawks do have to give a shit, because from here until it actually ends, every team is going to be looking to be the one to finally end their streak. But apathy will be the only reason it ends tonight. Let’s go Hawks.

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