Game Time: 7:00pm
TV/Radio: Versus or TSN/WGN 720
One day they'll take our team away, and all five of us will cry: Five for Howling
So sorry for the delay in the preview, I foolishly volunteered to do them on days I didn't have work thinking that it meant I had plenty of time to write them up. Turns out that not having to get out of bed until way past noon also meant I've got plenty of time to put off writing the preview.
Anyway here we are, and puck drop is less than a few hours away. The Hawks return to the Madhouse after a resounding victory against the St Louis Blues, with everyone's confidence back up on the rise. But then again, that's to be expected with a 5-2 win against a team that's supposedly picked up a hot streak thanks to having Hitchcock behind the bench, teaching them how to play defense.
Which is all well and good, because tonight the Hawks will be facing a similar opponent in the Phoenix Coyotes, a team we played just last week to an embarrassing 4-1 loss. If the Hawks want to prove their mettle, or at least that they've gotten back on track, they'll find themselves a challenging opponent in the Yotes. Where the Isles saw an ugly win against a struggling team, and the Blues saw the boys win against a team that couldn't quite discipline themselves all that much yet (but that happens when you're a bunch of fucktards), the Coyotes are a much more composed team when defending a lead. Or anything in general. Mike Smith is something of a revelation behind the net, and Tippett continues to do what he does best and make the most of the parts he's got.
They've run into some troubled times, however, if by "times" you count the last two games they played. Funny how the last game they won happens to be the last game we lost, but the narrative of the Hawks' night is going to focus on Corey Crawford, who gets the call for the team. I'm sure it hasn't escaped everyone's attention that the team's win against the Islanders, wherein we gave up 4 goals and scored as much, plus one more in the shootout, was Crawford's game, and the Blues win had Emery behind the net. If Crawford's game doesn't tighten up it won't be long before the Windy City sees another goalie controversy for the third time in four years (or whatever it is). Truth is he has been a little shaky, his positioning's been off, and I've heard his confidence can be easily rattled, but Emery lone is hardly the solution. I'd prefer to have Crawford back on track than have to start crying for his head, as so many in this city are wont to do.
As for the rest, it would be nice to see a continuation of the penalty kill actually happen tonight. St. Louis was the last time in a long time that we've come out smelling like roses on the kill, and it'd be nice, if we can't have the best of both worlds, to have at least one of our special teams be a source of pride and joy once more.
Everyone's eyes are also, apparently, on the bottom six, for not scoring in supporting roles as much as they should. I suppose that would help, but I'm wondering if maybe that's just the ebb and flow of the season doing its thing. After all, can't expect the bottom six to score all that frequently, or they wouldn't be called bottom six anymore. A drought's a drought, but while it looks like the stars are beginning to find their groove (welcome back, Sharpie and Hossa!) let's just hope the timing coincides so our team never lacks for someone going on an offensive hot streak. That'll be enough.
Out of all the frustrations of the last few games, it's been the inconsistency with which they've curb-stomped opponents one night and bent over backwards for others the next that has been most maddening. Tonight, I just want to see the team play well. And for players to start playing like they're actually healthy. The rest will be just gravy.
Let's go Hawks!