Here Comes The Zoo – Hawks vs Ducks Preview, Pregame Thread, Hard Disk Defragment

vs

Game Time: 7:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Bro Hymn: Anaheim Calling, Battle of California

With a stretch of 10 of 12 games on the road to start the abbreviated season, including the last six, the Blackhawks finally return to Club 1901, this time in slightly more permanent fashion. With the next seven tilts on United Center ice, this has been the targeted time for the Hawks to make their hay since the schedule was released, assuming they survived the first quarter of the season. And at the risk of overstatement, it’s pretty fair to say they survived it just fine.

The festivities begin tonight in welcoming in the surprising Anaheim Ducks, who are the Hawks’ closest pursuers in the Western Conference standings, as the Orange County Waterfowl enter into tonight with 17 points coming off a 6-5 shootout win in St. Louis. That it’s curious for the Ducks to be in this position given the talent they have at forward speaks to just how actively GM and perpetual red ass Bob Murray has tried to dry hump the roster into mediocrity. That his asking price for the very sensitive Bobby Ryan ended up being too high for even the Flyers may end up being a blessing for the Ducks, as Ryan is posting a point-per in 11 games so far, and is a +6.

However, it is the aging Finns on the second line that are setting the pace for the Ducks, as Saku Koivu is a gaudy +11 with 13 points, and Teemu Selanne continues to motor along at age 43, leading the Ducks with 14 points, including two separate 4 point games. There will be time in late March to begrudgingly acknowledge Selanne’s accomplishments in what could be his last visit to Chicago, but for now he still gets all the bile that’s churned up in Hawks fans’ stomachs with every back-breaking goal he’s ever potted. You would think these two geriatrics would embarrass Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry (he of a Hart trophy two seasons ago, and one lone goal this year) into stepping their games up in free agent walk years for the both of them. But as we’ve seen in the past, there’s shockingly little that takes place on the ice that embarrasses either of them.

On the back end of things, the usually reliable Jonas Hiller has had a rough go of it to this point in the season, which has led Uncle Barbecue to turn his jowly gaze to rookie Viktor Fasth, who has thus far answered the bell to the tune of a 5-0-0 record, a 1.72 GAA, and a .932 save percentage, and will get the start tonight. In front of Fasthsthsth is a blue line featuring the stable Toni Lydman, the lumbering Bryan Allen, the shockingly productive Sheldon Souray (+10? Really?), and Committed Indian man crush Francois Beauchemin. The puck moving Cam Fowler will miss tonight’s game as he has for the last week, rendering that corps rather stationary outside of Luca Sbisa, so rushing the puck to the outside and winning races to corners will be paramount against this group.

As for the Men of Four Feathers, one would imagine they’re feeling pretty damn good about themselves. Even still, they’ve been saying all the right things in the media, with every successive sound bite hammering home that there’s still room for improvement. That improvement should come in the form of the power play tonight, as the Ducks are a grotesque 67.5% on the kill, though they’ve had the 4th fewest times shorthanded at 40 (a hallmark of a Bruce Boudreau coached team), the lone mitigating factor to that wretchedness. The only team with the top-to-bottom speed that the Ducks have faced to this point has been the Canucks twice, one of which was the Schneider opening night diaper filling, the other a 5-0 skull cracking on home ice in which the Ducks were shorthanded nine times. The Hawks churning legs, particularly those of Brandon Saad who’s acquiring a knack for drawing penalties, could put the Ducks in such a position once again.

The Hawk blue line will need to be resolute in their desire to absorb a hit to make a play, as the Ducks have never been shy about sending wave after wave of angry forward to plaster a defenseman into the end boards, and have the size to do so. Anaheim’s forward corps has always given the Hawk D-men fits when they’re interested, and it appears they are at this point in the season. As a result, Corey Crawford, coming off his first shutout since forever, will need to be especially sharp in controlling his rebounds, as there is bound to be at least one Duck forward ready to pounce on anything left behind.

The broadcast tonight will undoubtedly hammer home the tendency for a letdown in the first game on home ice upon returning from a long roadie. And up until last year when the media seemingly willed it into being, the Hawks have by and large done well with such games. But complacency with what’s been done through the first quarter of the season won’t lead to the favorable result, and though the next two and a half weeks will be on the West Side, it’s not exactly going to be a bunch of popsicles for opponents. That starts tonight with the division leading Ducks, and however surprising that fact might be, the Hawks will need to treat them as such. The road trip will only matter if the homestand is a success, and that needs to start tonight. Let’s go Hawks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.commisso Steve Commisso

    Matt you have hit the nail on the head with the issues and a great post. Maybe its a matter of not being arrogant. If the Hawks do take this game very seriously then they can continue the good results. If they have a “road-triumph” hangover and go in to celebrate then things will be tough. Not only cause of the Ducks but even if the Jackets were playing against us tonight. And speaking of the Jackets they gave the Sharks a 6 goal whooping as maybe the Sharks didnt take them seriously.

    • MySpoonIsTooBig

      Maybe the Sharks are simply regressing to the mean, or were we supposed to believe that Marleau was going to keep potting 2 goals per game?

  • raditzzzz

    i hate the ducks.

    • ahnfire

      I hate everyone that’s not the Blackhawks.

      Really, it’s much easier this way.

      • BigCSouthside

        Agreed.

      • Z-man19

        A shocking revelation :D

    • BigHoss

      the only other team that i like is the lightening and thats way down on my list it goes 1-29 blackhawks 30 lightining

  • http://twitter.com/AndrewCieslak Andrew Cieslak

    So is this a safe haven for people who don’t feel the need to gush over Teemu Selanne every goddamn second of the goddamn day?

    • Accipiter

      He is off to his best start in 17 years.

  • FattyBeef

    Lumbering defenders = good things are coming.

  • laaarmer

    Sheldon Souray!

  • BigCSouthside

    I’ll go get my 12 gauge.

    • BigCSouthside

      Also, did anyone else watch Columbus completely butt fist the Sharks last night?

      • QCBlackhawk

        Did not get to see it unfortunately, but I went into fits of laughter when I looked up the scores on nhl.com at the end of the night,

        • BigCSouthside

          The third period was hilarious

          • QCBlackhawk

            Did they go off the handle a la the Blues and Nucks?

      • laaarmer

        CBJ won the face offs 56% to 44%

  • Woods

    LET’S GO HAWKS!

  • BigHoss

    Fuck the ducks hey that rhymes im a poet and i dont even know it

  • BigHoss

    is it wrong that i up boat my own comments if i find them hilarious?

    • BigHoss

      i just up boated the comment above this

    • BigCSouthside

      I up boated as your proxy

      • BigHoss

        thankyou as for you kind sir or mam you shall receive an uboat

        • Z-man19

          You can call him sir, what’s a mam?

          • ahnfire

            the mayan language?

          • Z-man19

            A Mayan language not ‘the’

          • Accipiter

            mam (mæm) — n. informal , dialect or another word for mother

          • Z-man19

            Ma’am maybe?

  • Z-man19

    Which streak comes to an end tonight? Kane’s goal scoring streak, Crow’s shutout streak or Sharp’s panging the pipes streak.

    • girlphoenix

      panging the pipes? when did darren pang’s name become a verb?

      • Z-man19

        Just now

        • girlphoenix

          what does it mean though?

          • Z-man19

            A variation of pinging

          • birdhead

            onomatopoeia!

          • Z-man19

            Hey Jave, got a definition for that one^

          • Accipiter

            The use of words (such as hiss or murmur) that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to.

          • Z-man19

            I may quit using google, I’ll now Jave stuff

          • Joe Banks

            So if you can ping, that’s good, but if you Pang, that’s bad?

          • Z-man19

            Whatever you do don’t pong

          • Accipiter

            1. A sudden sharp spasm of pain.
            2. A sudden sharp feeling of emotional distress.
            panged, pang·ing, pangs
            To cause to feel pangs; distress acutely.

          • girlphoenix

            I’m disappointed. I wanted some kind of Darren Pang joke here.

          • Z-man19

            He’s a god awful homer and he’s short, call him a gnomer

          • girlphoenix

            that’ll do

          • Z-man19

            Really? I thought it was pretty shitty myself

          • QCBlackhawk

            How about “Sharp’s score sheet is as long is Pang is tall.” ?

          • girlphoenix

            that’s good

    • Accipiter

      Shut your mouth. Sh-sh-shut your mouth.

      • Z-man19

        I thought it was ok to discuss in pregame, geez

        So which of those has you worried?

    • thepuckstopshere

      the song remains the same. Don’t fuck with it!
      1

    • justforkicks

      Sharp’s panging the pipes. Idk why people have a fascination with wondering when bad things will happen!

  • thepuckstopshere

    In tonight’s Indian who’s mug is on the “making of the Anaheim ducks” page

  • The Waco Kid

    Iggy Pop!!

    Hoo-Ray McClure!! (Hoo-Ray McClure!!!)

  • girlphoenix

    does anyone else find it hilarious how much attention is being focused on kaner’s mouthguard or lack thereof?

    • Accipiter

      I noticed it right away, but have heard nothing about it.

      • justforkicks

        dude there was an entire article about it!! and tweets

        • Accipiter

          No tweets for me.

          • justforkicks
          • Z-man19

            You must be happy

          • justforkicks

            i won’t be happy until i win a copy of the new blackhawks magazine

          • Z-man19

            Your other team is winning

          • justforkicks

            hell yeah they are

          • justforkicks

            and the tweet (along with some about kaner getting a hair cut):
            BrianHedger
            Toews on @88PKane not wearing patented mouthguard: “He should probably just put his mouthguard in his mouth and keep it there.”#Blackhawks

  • girlphoenix

    breaking news: Bob McKenzie
    ‏@TSNBobMcKenzie

    CBJ announces that GM Scott Howson has been relieved of his duties.

    • ahnfire

      hilariously, it was announced just as Nash made a great play for NYR.

      • Z-man19

        Did he sign Nash?

        • justforkicks

          well he traded him

          • Z-man19

            I know that, didn’t think he did too badly on the trade, now if he signed him that makes it a bit different

          • Accipiter

            Doug MacLean.

          • Z-man19

            I don’t get the timing of it

          • Accipiter

            You also didn’t know the meaning of mam.

          • Z-man19

            That’s why I have Jave

          • Z-man19

            Bite me, Jones agrees, the timing is odd

          • Accipiter

            I’ve always had a hard time keeping up with the Jones’.

          • justforkicks

            he became GM in 2007 i think and nash was drafted in 2002. But he did sign him to the 8 year contract extension for $62.4M

    • Z-man19

      Odd timing, his team just horsed or butt fisted the sha-arks

  • ahnfire

    Howsen just got fired.

    • birdhead

      Late enough for ya?

      • ahnfire

        I’m a little sad bc will this mean that lolumbus will start to become competent?

        • birdhead

          They have quite a bit to recover from, though.

          • Accipiter

            The new GM will have 3 first rounders in this years draft.

          • birdhead

            I guess that’s a reason to fire Howson now – not that he’s done something unusually bad, they just want someone else to draft from this apparently fantastic draft.

        • mightymikeD

          I’m hoping Brolumbus make the playoffs… at the expense of the second-place team in the NW.. if the Wild & Oil are just going to roll over and let the Nucks walk away with that Division then they belong on a Golf Course in May

          • QCBlackhawk

            Every damn year. It’s annoying as shit to hear how “awesome” the Nucks are in that weak division.

        • justforkicks

          i’d love to see dubi and anisimov do great though. or have then shipped off to the hawks

    • mightymikeD

      and just when the Beej were turning the corner, too…

  • mightymikeD

    HI GANG.. i’m here.. whatever that means…

    • ahnfire

      hi mmd

      • mightymikeD

        h’lo, m’dear… welcome back.. how was Puffin-Eating Land?

        • ahnfire

          I loved it. The place is beautiful.

    • Z-man19

      mmd is here now where the fuck is Bob

  • Accipiter

    Kneel before Saad.

  • ahnfire

    come children, to the first period thread!

    http://thecommittedindian.com/first-period-thread-ducks-vs-hawks/