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Pigs in Zen: Hopes Slip-Sliding Away

Week 28 of the AHL schedule was a week to forget for the IceHogs—and at this time of the year, that isn’t something that needs to happen. After falling to Milwaukee earlier in the week, the Hogs dropped 2 of their 3 contests over the weekend to set themselves very far back in the playoff race.

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Careful What You Wish For – 1st Round Preview: The Blues Forwards Pt. 2

We’ll just keep rolling along with the grace from the Lord above, and finish out the Blues forwards corps.

3rd Line: Derek Roy-Patrik Berglund-Brenden Morrow

At least, this is my guess. Morrow and Berglund are injury worries. Berglund also may play on the second line with Steve Ott here before he and Morrow get into a fight amongst themselves.

Berglund is the Blues biggest enigma. You look at the size, the hands, the smarts, and he really should be one of the better centers around. Some nights, some shifts, he looks like that. But then a lot more nights, and a lot more shifts, you don’t even know he’s there. He should be the prime source of secondary scoring for the Blues, and he just isn’t enough nights. And this is when he’s healthy, which he isn’t now.

Sometimes I forget that Derek Roy is even on this team. He was hurt for a bit there, has been a healthy scratch too. He’s got nine goals. Maybe he’s their John Druce, but I doubt it.

Five years ago I would have been terrified of playing Brenden Morrow in a playoff series. There were few players better bred for playoff hockey. Nasty, big, with a knack for scoring killer goals. Now? Slow, still nasty but in all the wrong ways, and half your skaters on the ice would have to come down with vertigo for him to score regularly. He’ll be part of their thug-squad and causing ruckuses after whistles, but I don’t see where he does much else. If Berglund isn’t on this line, the Hawks could really expose Ott and Morrow with speed.

4th Line: Magnus Paajarvi-Maxim Lapierre-Dumpster Boy

I’ve always liked Paajarvi when he was an Oiler, but it took injuries and an age for him to crack the lineup, and he may be the first one out if Tarasenko plays. He’s a smart two-way player with some offensive flash that has been snuffed out in St. Louis either by Hitch’s ways or playing with utter garbage. The rest is more of the thug-squad. Lapierre can win a draw and that’s about it before he goes off to cross-check Patrick Kane in the back of the head or slash at his knee or whatever other cheap bullshit he’s going to pull before running away wetting himself when anyone with any size comes to confront him. Ryan Reaves… well, if Cieslak will allow me, lives in a dumpster behind the Purina factory (TM).

Wild Card – Vladimir Tarasenko: The story is that he is going to play at some point this series, but we don’t know when. How effective he can be after six weeks off with a broken hand is up for debate. He also doesn’t exactly have a playoff pedigree, because he was scratched for most of last year’s flameout against the Kings. But if healthy and not shying from the moment, Tarasenko is the only other source of inspiration that the Blues have. He can create his own shot and space, but he can also get buried along the walls. Maybe rested, maybe rusty, may be back after it’s too late.

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Careful What You Wish For – 1st Round Preview: The Blues Forwards Pt. 1

We move on from what is probably the Blues biggest strength (the blue line) to a severely banged up forward corps. And what it was at full-strength was kind of a debate among everyone to begin with. While most of the mass media in hockey slobbers over Alex Steen, David Backes, and T.J. Oshie, we have screamed at the top of our lungs about their faults and weaknesses. Through injury or whatever else, those have started to show. And while everyone loves to talk about GRITSANDPAPERHEARTFAAARRRRT on the bottom six, even if it’s healthy it looks pretty bereft of anything useful. Which really came to the fore in the season’s last month when the top six stopped scoring and absolutely no one was there to pick up the slack. So let’s dig in, shall we?

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Careful What You Wish For – 1st Round Preview: The Blues Goalies

This is a strange situation in a couple ways. It feels like for most of the season, the Blues and their fans were salivating at the prospect of getting the Hawks in the playoffs. They’ve been a headache for the Hawks for years, even when they sucked, and as we all know victory over the Hawks would mean more to their hilljack fans than an actual Cup. It might even be that way with their players.

For the Hawks and their fans, we just didn’t want to deal with it. Some of it was fear. Mostly it was just the high level of annoyance that would accompany a series with St. Louis. The cheapshots, the bullshit, the yapping, and the drivel that tumbles out of the gaping maws of the unwashed of Missouri and Southern Illinois. Basically, I thought I would have to turn off the internet for this series.

Until lately. Now, it feels like there’s a sense of dread coming from the Southwest with their late-season collapse and the numbers correcting and here come the bitterest enemy to simply put them out of their misery. And we’re feeling pretty good, with how the Blues are playing and the Hawks somewhat snapped into gear since Kane and Toews got hurt.

It could be a careful what you wish for situation in either direction. I’m not sure which it is. But we’ll go do our normal playoff preview, and we’ll start with the biggest question down there, the man in the mask.

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