Game Time: 7:30 PM
Radio: WGN 720 TV: CSN-Chicago
Last year: Hawks won 5-4 in Atlanta in a shootout
New look, same crappy team. On Sunday, Manitoba got an NHL team via relocation from Atlanta and despite being established for more than a decade, they went out and lost 5-1 to the Montreal Canadiens. Despite the loss, fans in Winnipeg stood and chanted for most of the game. They were disappointed to learn that the franchise's first goal was not scored by Nik Antropov, but by Kelly Buchberger in 1999.
Tonight marks the return to the United Center of Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien. For most, Buff will forever be looked at as a playoff hero for the Hawks who should have been untouchable. But watching him in the regular season was so frustrating. He never had the drive to be an everyday key player, and the Hawks did the right thing by selling high on him (Granted, if Morin pans out. Would be nice to see him skating soon). Buff's move to D went well offensively and he was rewarded with a new, fittingly large, contract. However, Buff was a trainwreck in his own zone and was terrible once he got his contract. I hope stuff like this shows that the team was right to trade him, but I doubt it. Meanwhile, Andrew Ladd had 29 goals last year but nobody likes to talk about that as much.
Here are what the lines are looking like (Via Illegal Curve)
(PS. Glass is running his mouth again, calling Carcillo a "donkey." Remember, Glass is the same guy who got mad at Kane for growing a mullet. Really)
The first line provides a nice combination of skill (Ladd) and speed (Wheeler), but the line to look at is the second. Mark Scheifele has been a nice surpise for them and Evander Kane is a rising star who can score goals and beat the crap out of Matt Cooke. Although the line does suffer in terms of balance, with Kyle Wellwood on it (Laughs to self).
While there is Buff to watch on defense, a lot of people are looking at this as a big year for Zach Bogosian. He hasn't really lived up to his high draft pick status as many thought he would be a cornerstone defenseman for the team. It will be interesting to see how this season works out for him.
Anyway, onto the Hawks. It was a Saad week, as our second round draft pick Brandon was sent back to Saginaw of the OHL. While it's sad to see, the kid probably gained a lot form this experience and hopefully he will go and dominate the league. His demotion signals that one of Ben Smith or Viktor Stalberg will be ready to go sooner rather than later, but from practice on Wednesday it didn't sound like either of them would be ready for tonight.
But who will replace him? None other than Dan Carcillo. I remember being angry when the team signed him, but as time has gone on I am anxious to see how this goes. It will defeinitely be better than John "3 minutes of ice time" Scott. Carbomb can play some hockey and isn't afriad to get phyiscal (obviously), but he has to make sure he can stay in line (Fighting Max Talbot the 09 playoffs springs to mind). He's an energy guy who can play on all lines and his teammates seem to like him. I'm giving time on the Dan Carcillo experiment, but remain cautiously optimistic.
Still lots of positives to take from Saturday, mainly the return of Dave Bolland. He scored twice, was 12-18 on faceoffs, and was all over the place. Much like Vancouver last year, he proivded us with the extra spark that the team needed. If Bolland can stay healthy I don't expect to see a dip in form like we saw as the team stumbled into the playoffs last year. Another positive was seeing Andrew Brunette getting goals by getting to the net. More of that please, Bruno.
Both Crawford and Emery missed time in practice this week (with groin and the flu, respectively) so we will find out who starts after the morning skate. Would like to see Emery sooner rather than later, but if Craw is healthy then I'd expect to see him.
Big game before the Stanley Cup champions come to town on Saturday night. Let's keep the momenteum going. Go Hawks.