Game Time: 8:00 PM CT
TV/Radio: CSN+ / WGN Radio
The Villains: Jibblescribbits
The Blackhawks face their second road-weary team on their first game back. The playoff race in the West is tighter than ever, and the Hawks will have to continue to find scoring without Kane and Hossa in the lineup.
The Abonimable Avs
The Avs are coming back from a 5-game road trip out in the Southeast from which they managed a 2-1-2 record. They gave OT wins to teams like Florida and Carolina while stealing 2 points from red-hot Atlanta and Southeast kings the Capitals. Their sole loss came at the hands of the Lightning. Go figure, right?
But the Capitals, last I heard, have had some sort of bug going around their locker room and could be suffering from it, somewhat evidenced by their 7-0 ass-whipping from last night and their recent losing streak. I’m not entirely sure how the Avs beat the Thrashers, but at least Brian Little (who I always confuse with one of the Backstreet Boys) made up for it against the Isles.
Anyway, we were talking about the Avs. The team that made a surprising run to the playoffs last year have struggled quite a bit this season, in what can only be described by their fans as “a test of character” but what statisticians have dubbed “regressing to the mean”. Their strength last year relied on inordinately high shooting percentages and the incredible play of Craig Anderson, and while they’re still scoring quite a bit (their 3.41 goals per game is second only to Detroit across the league), it’s the goals scored against them that have been holding them back from the top of the pack.
Part of it, of course, is Craig Anderson getting sidelined with injury for most of November. His numbers are still a respectable 91.3 SV% and 2.77 GAA, but even when he was in goal the Avs only put up a 6-4-2 record.
The League of Four Feathers
What can we say about the Hawks that we haven’t been bleating for the last couple of games? Last Saturday’s tilt against the Sharks was strong but the result was not what we expected. I like to think those games even out over time but as I’ve also said before, I’d rather see a loss where the team played hard than a win where they didn’t, mostly because it means a team that plays a certain way will probably win more games in the future than when they play like they couldn’t give a rat’s ass.
So we move on, and tonight we’re still going to have to grapple with the fact that we’ve got Hendry and Morin in the lineup instead of Kane and Hossa (Pisani who?). We’ll make do, though, one way or another.
Anyway, while Q has kept mum on who we’ll see between the pipes tonight, you’ve gotta believe Crawford deserves that opportunity. Yeah, Q’s riding the hot hand with whoever wins, and technically last Saturday falls under a loss, but dammit, he played really well in that game up until the end, and we’ve gotta see how he bounces back from it, don’t we?
Points of Contention
- The Starter - One of the few knocks on Quenneville, back when he was coaching the Avs and even in his last seasons here, had been the way he handled his goalies. Tonight will test that.
- Captain Serious and the Sharp Shooter - Toews was all over the ice last Saturday but was unfortunately foiled at each turn. Though it certainly helps, it’ll take more than his whole “I will shoulder the weight of the team and drag them to victory” act to get anything going, of course, and that’s where Sharp Shooter comes in. Both Toews and Sharp at their best could be enough to get the team started.
- The Sidekicks - A lot of what we’ve seen lately have involved significant contribution from the least likely of sources. All I’m saying is, long may it continue. Also, Skille should get a goal or two or three soon, don’t you think? And has it struck anyone else how much like Robin he is?