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Thrashers @ Blackhawks Recap (Now with 100% more free Preview of Hawks @ CBJ!)

February 14, 2010
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Its not that I overestimate the Hawks. Far from it actually.  My biggest problem is underestimating the opponents.  But I don’t feel like I’m alone in seeing the Atlanta Thrashers without their superstar anymore, and expecting a cakewalk for the Hawks.  Of course I realized how wrong I was when the Thrash picked up the first goal off a wraparound from Jim Slater.  Sharp tied it up when he knocked a bouncing puck towards the net from the circle and the puck just kept wobbling in.  Kim Johnsson decided to initiate himself into the club by picking up a goal in his first game.  He had a solid game and was much more effective in the offensive zone than I had anticipated.  Hossa scored his weekly shortie (how does he make it look that easy? Is he even trying out there?).  Johnny Oduya hit Evander “the wrong one” Kane with a no-look pass that he must have picked up from watching Steve Nash in the NBA Skills Competition last night. Kane just had to hit the open net.  Max Afinigenov had to score because I sat him on my fantasy team in lieu of Brouwer. Beat Niemi 5-hole, flying up the left boards.  Enstrom would put the Thrashers in front with a PP point shot after Kopecky took a penalty that left me dumbfounded.  Davey Bolland made a pretty slick move in the 3rd to tie it up.  That’d be all for the scoring, despite some good chances both ways towards the end of regulation.  Niemi made some solid saves in the shootout so everyone would forget the soft ones during the real game.  Toews sniped a corner on Ondrej Pavelec for the only goal in the shootout.

Quick Notes:

  • I’d be worried about Hossa getting hurt, but if its bad then he’ll sit the Olympics.  If its not bad, then he can play in the Olympics and we have nothing to worry about.
  • Kopecky and Toews took two pretty dumb penalties back-to-back.  Watch for very few penalties tonight. Coach Q doesn’t let those things go unpunished.
  • I predicted a good day for special teams. Both teams went 1 for 5 on the PP so nothing too special there.

And now for tonight’s show:

Game Time: 4:00 PM CST
TV/Radio: WGN-HD / WGN (720-AM)
Know Thy Enemy: Jackets Canon

Stat Pack:

Blackhawks Blue Jackets
L10
6-3-1 6-4-0
Record On The Road: 17-9-3 At Home: 15-10-5
PP% 19.2% (T-7th) 19.8% (6th)
PK 84.9% (5th) 82.4% (13th)

Here’s another game that annoys me beyond belief.  Columbus is sitting at the bottom of the division and 14th in the conference. Edmonton has been so bad, however, they’re still 15 points ahead of last in the West.  This is another game where I underestimate the opposition.  Columbus fired Ken Hitchcock on Feb 3rd and have gone 3-1-0 since then, beating Buffalo and San Jose in that stretch. The lone loss came in a close game against Vancouver.   So despite the record, this game probably won’t be easy.

But the BJs are never easy for the Hawks.  They’re notorious for the trapping system and Rick Nash.  I’m not sure what their system has looked like in the Post-Hitchcock games, but I imagine they’ll try to trap the life out of this game, especially if the Hawks go down early.

It also doesn’t help that the Hawks likely got in late last night, have some guys hurt, and are looking ahead to the Olympics or vacation days.  Hossa, Madden, and Eager are all out of this game.  Bickell and Dowell will be the call-ups from the AHL.  Expect them to get sent down after the game, regardless of the health of any of the other guys.  They’ll get 2 weeks of playing in Rockford.  Madden was put on IR, likely to pick up the cap benefits, although it all gets a bit murky with the Olympic break.

No word yet on either goalie in tonight’s game.  I’d expect Huet to play with the early start on the end of back-to-backs.  The only way Niemi plays is if Q wants to send a message that Niemi is the new starter.  I don’t see that happening with the way he played last night.  Plus, there is no need to start that talk back up with 2 weeks to talk about it.

Mathieu (goddamn frenchies) Garon is projected to get the nod for CBJ.  Mason has played the last 4 games and Garon hasn’t played since Feb 2nd.  But with the break coming up, all bets are off because they’ll both get plenty of rest.

Just try to enjoy this one.  And when you get frustrated with the trap (and you will), just think, the Hawks are 40-15-5. Life is good. Please don’t jump off the ledge.

Let’s Go Hawks

P.S.  Don’t forget to watch BlackhawksTV after the game on WGN.  Sounds like they have some hilarious stuff set up and it should be good.

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