I woke up this morning, put the tea pot on, and tried to mentally prepare myself for writing a preview piece about the best team in hockey versus one of the worst.
As the kettle began to whistle I happened to look out the window and watch with no small amount of joy as the mighty wind off Lake Michigan got hold of a young boy on his way to school and blew him over and into the field across from my apartment.
Tonight at the United Center the Hawks will attempt to run their league leading six game winning streak to seven versus a Nashville team that is starting to resemble backwash in a dog bowl. They’ve lost ten of their last 11 games overall and have only won one road game in their last 14. It’s a tough pill to swallow for a team who’s been to the playoffs seven of the last eight years and is the only Western Conference team to have reached the Semi’s each of the last two seasons.
Injuries have played a big part in this collapse, and since Colin Wilson, Paul Gaustad and Gabriel Bourque are all done for the season you’ve got to figure Nashville will give youngsters Filip Forsberg (18yrs) and Mattias Ekholm (22yrs) plenty of opportunity versus the big, bad Blackhawks.
Talk about a trial by fire.
The Hawks are the hottest team in the league at the moment and are likely licking their chops at the opportunity to tune up a team they’ve already beaten three times this month. They’re 8-0-1 in their last nine, lead the league in points and goals against, and are second in so many categories the adult film industry is impressed with their range.
The Hawks have won five straight in the series (including two shutouts), outscored Nashville by 35 goals and 53 assists this season, and both of Chicago’s goalies have more wins than Predators starting goalie Pekka Rinne.
In essence you’ve got T-Rex, and that little goat they leave for him in Jurassic Park.
The only chink in the armor for the Hawks at the moment is the power-play, which has failed to score a goal in its last 20 chances dating back nine games. In fact the Goats—sorry Predators—have actually outscored Chicago 22-21 on the power-play this season in what appears to be the only statistic I can dig up where they have the edge.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville will hopefully use these next two games against teams out of the playoff race to try and change up the lines and spark some offense from a group who is currently second in the league in goals scored.
With a win tonight the Hawks will have swept three of the four other teams in their division. The St. Louis Blues managed to steal a game from them in a shootout and they finish their season versus the Hawks on April 27th but let’s face it: We haven’t seen a team dominate their division like this since the 2011 Green Bay Packers swept the NFC North.
Oh Lord did I just write that?
Serves me right I suppose for laughing at that kid.