PUCKDROP: 7:30pm Central
TV/RADIO: WGN for both
I remember the days when these home-and-homes were played between teams in the division, not wrapping up the entire season series between teams in the opposite conferences. Oh well. Either way, the Hawks and Isles will wrap up their season obligations against each other tonight on Madison St. after opening the Barclays Center to NHL hockey last night (though some there couldn’t see it).
Neither the Isles or Hawks will be sending video of last night’s game to Toronto to be immortalized, as it had a very deep October feel where two consecutive completed passes was the equivalent of finding gold in between your toes. Perhaps the strangest aspect of last night’s contest was that even with last change Captain Jack Capuano and his deal-with-the-devil hair didn’t get Tavares away from Keith and Hjalmarsson, and it didn’t matter as the combo of Strome-Tavares-Lee simply rolled the Hawks top pairing. Keith and Hammer haven’t played together very much at all in their entire careers, and based on the first two games it’s going to take them a little time to get the rhythm and the steps down.
As Feather pointed out last night, Toews and Hossa were also trying very hard not to be seen last night, both double digits to the negative in possession. That’s been the case in both games so far this week, and while it’s still in the anomaly category it’s worth watching for now.
With no morning skate it would only be a guess as to lineup changes. I would think Tikhonov did enough to stay, and hopefully a full game with Teuvo at center as everyone’s game took a jump when Teuvo slotted down there halfway through last night’s game. Viktor Svedberg’s Oprah like tendency for handing out turnovers early on might see him punted to the organ loft for a return of David Rundblad, which is basically swapping out brussel sprouts for… I don’t know, other brussel sprouts (I eat most other vegetables these days after a lifetime of adhering to my eight-year-old-child-palate). But Q sticking with the lineup that brought home two points would fit into his normal MO.
We do know Scott Darling will get his first run-out of the season. Against a skilled team like the Islanders, who might have the deepest crop of forwards in the East and certainly one of, the Hawks have to be much cleaner with the puck. Because turnovers and open ice are going to provide the platform for the Isles to get Darling moving side to side, and that’s his main issue. You don’t want Okposo and Tavares and Grabovski and whoever else getting to whip cross-ice passes to open wingers because the Hawks’ D just handed them the puck at the blue line. It’s early yet, and it’s not a surprise that cohesion on the blue line isn’t something the Hawks have found with all new pairings and a few forwards that are still figuring out where they should be.
This early in the season and with as many fixes with both teams still to be performed, there’s no reason that this one shouldn’t be as open and fast as last night’s was. The Islanders want to get up and go and with de Haan, Leddy, and Zidlicky they certainly can at a reckless pace. I would think Thomas Greiss will go for a second straight night because the backup is something names Jean-Francois Berube, who I think was the guy who kept trying to steal Kelly from Woody on Cheers.
Should be a good way to spend the early part of Saturday night, at least in an entertaining way.
Pick up our gameday program right here. It’s the only place you can get it, because my fucking printer shit the bed this morning and hence I can’t print out hard copies to sell down there. Go Cubs.