PUCK DROP: 11-Fucking-30 in the AM
TV/RADIO: NBC, TSN2, 87.7FM (This is where David Kaplan orally farts now, in case you were curious)
BELCH: St. Louis Gametime
I’m sure when NBC flexed this game to another Sunday morning coming down they were hoping for a deciding tilt in the Central Division. What they’ll get is basically two entrenched team, one that’s coming off an utter disaster and another mental meltdown and one that’s missing two of the five best players in the league that is basically just trying to get its game in order. It’ll be a passionate affair as these contests always are, but considering the start time and the lack of much riding on it, probably not exactly what the execs were hoping for.
Although, thanks the Blues getting piped at home yesterday by the Avalanche, were they to biff this one and the Avs put one over the Pens at home later tonight then the Central wouldn’t exactly be over. The Avs would sit only three points out with four games to go and a three-ROW advantage. Because the Avs winning the division is something we need. So there’s a little more at stake for the Blues. Maybe. A Hawks win and Avs loss could see them pull to within a point of Colorado, but with the dead and buried Oilers and Canucks left on their schedule it would still be something of a longshot.
There’s a smaller chance of the Blues mailing this one in after they laid a turd-shaped egg (or egg-shaped turd, take your pick) at home yesterday in losing to the Avs 4-0. It ended with another patented Blues meltdown, with such highlights as Brenden Morrow getting a match penalty for cross-checking Jamie McGinn in the face and then the coup-de-stupid of David Backes assaulting noted toughie Nathan MacKinnon. CAPTAIN!
All of it led to Ken Hitchcock once again taking a flame-thrower to his team in the press after the game, threatening to blow up the lines to find some offense and once again questioning their mental makeup (if it exists in the first place). And finding offense is something of an issue of late for the River Rats (who would have ever seen that coming?). They’ve been shutout twice in the past three games, and only have 19 goals in their past 10 (and that includes two 5-goal games).
Of course, the mystery is something more clear when you see their even-strength shooting percentage, which has been over 10% at times this season, has sunk back to 8.3%. It could be nothing more than a market correction for a team that still doesn’t have a true top-end scorer and no, Alex Steen doesn’t count (and he probably won’t play tomorrow anyway).
The Blues will trot out Brian Elliot tomorrow as Miller started against the Avs. Elliot has only surrendered three goals in his last four starts, though he hasn’t had to work all that hard to do so. But that’s the Blues specialty, and you can expect after getting their doors blown off yesterday that being tight in their own end will be first, second, and third priority today. This might not be one for those looking for top shelf entertainment.
For the Hawks, there’s no reason to believe they won’t trot out the same lineup as the last two (perhaps to save Teuvo from being killed). Which means we get more of “The Expendables” line of Bryan Bickell, Jeremy Morin, and Peter Regin, far and away the best line of the last two games. The Avs simply murdered Roman Polak and Barret “The Best Argument For Abortion” Jackman with speed, and I kind of want to see of Morin and Regin can’t do the same.
After being blasted by their coach you can expect the Blues to come out even feistier than usual, which is always a great ad for the sport. Reaves and Bollig engaging in an utter pointless fight before the 1st is 10 minutes old? Yeah, short odds on that one. Which means the puck support the Hawks have gotten back to for the most part the last two games is paramount today. You know the Blues are going to be charging in on the forecheck like Clarence Fucking Swamptown, so having an option close by to move the puck to quickly is the way around that. If the Hawks can do that, you can get at this blue line with speed.
As always, cashing in on the power plays that are a certainty to be provided is also a great idea. Then again, getting an early lead on the Blues could lead to them shitting a chicken again and that could be a whole mess. But I’ll take my chances.