Game Time: 6:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Schiano Men: Raw Charge
The next stop for the Hawks on the Floridian Moms’ trip brings the Hawks to the St. Petersburg Times Forum Arena Thing Place for the first time in two years, but will already close out the season series with the Ning before the month of October comes to a close. And the Hawks will be looking to avenge one of their two shootout losses, with the hope that things fare better than when they tried to avenge a regulation loss against St. Louis last week.
Thus far this season, the Lightning haven’t been nearly as terrible as anticipated, having already achieved the mediocrity they were likely to peak at early here in the season with 10 points in 8 games, and barely occupying one of the bottom two spots in the league’s new clusterfuck of a playoff seeding system. They’ve done in mostly through offense, scoring 3.1 per game with the two pace cars being exactly who you’d think they’d be, Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis. Stamkos has 5 goals already and 10 points, and the ageless member of the Lollipop Guild St. Louis both have 10 points in as many games, and have done most of their damage at even strength. The surprise so far that’s buoyed the rest of a non-descript Ning attack has been Teddy Purcell putting up 4G and 4A so far, and 3 of those goals on the power play. Purcell has accounted for half of the Lightning’s power play output so far, which shows that teams aren’t just going to let Stamkos tee off from the left circle any more. If Teddy Damn Purcell is going to get his on the power play as a result, the guess is that most coaches can live with that.
However, in goal, behind a plodding, large blue line, Steve “Anointed Genius” Yzerman may have finally found something worthwhile in net in Ben Bishop. And it only took him three tries, a couple draft picks, and a promising rookie in Corey Conacher to find him. Bishop currently boasts a .924 save percentage on facing about 27 shots a night, good for a 2.11 goals against, which is more than serviceable. He turned in a fantastic performance against the Hawks on the UC ice as his mates in front of him were held shotless until the second period. And though that number does skew things, the Lightning are averaging 25.9 shots per, so in general, Bishop has had to work more than his counterpart on a nightly basis. Having the likes of Matt Carle and Eric Brewer entrusted to fend off the oncoming hordes certainly doesn’t help matters in that department.
As for our Men of Four Feathers, they’ll be looking to tighten things up after blowing yet another two goal lead in Sunrise on Tuesday night, and needing a game of Dr. Mario to settle things even after Tinfoil Timmy’s arthritic hip gave out or he had to beat traffic for a militia meeting or something. There don’t appear to be any lineup changes up front, and Rozsival will draw back in after a couple of decent games from Kostka and Brookbank. The biggest priority here in the early going still has to be the managing of minutes by Quenneville for his top end and aging players, and getting Brandon Pirri more time to help rest Hadzus’ aching everything and giving him a chance to change his depends might help to ignite the dormant scoring from the Patricks. But that would make sense.
Nikolai Harvey Birdman will get the cage tonight facing down a team he once won a cup with, even though only Marty St. Louis remains from those days. Perhaps the two can compare their favorite vodka-and-Geritol cocktails.
The Lightning might be tougher at home where there is a distinct advantage for them in the faceoff department forcing the Hawks to chase more than they’d like, and as a result make Khabby work more after 4:30 PM than he’s been accustomed to, but there’s still an obvious talent gap here even with another herculean effort from Bishop. And this would certainly be as good a time as any to either put a team away early or just simply not allow them back in late. But two points however they come will suffice. Let’s go Hawks.