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Hippity Hoppity Playoffs are on Their Way – Flames at Blackhawks Preview

April 4, 2010

Game Time: 2:00 PM CST
TV/Radio: WGN / WGN (720-AM)
Total Flamers: Matchsticks and Gasoline

Stat Pack:

Blackhawks (2nd)
Flames (9th)
4-4-2 6-4-0
Record at Home: 27-8-3 on the Road: 20-13-6
PP% 18.2% (16th) 16.4% (T-25th)
PK 84.7% (5th) 82.1% (15th)

Ahhhh Spring afternoon games, how I loathe thee.  I guess at least we won’t be subjected to a game on NBC.  It just seems like the Hawks never come prepared for these games.  Its just different from the usual routine for these guys of a morning skate, lunch, nap, warmup, game.  It also makes the game feel less important.

But this game is pretty important for both sides (if this article cuts off, it has nothing to do with importance and everything to do with the hearty helping of cough syrup that will help me sleep tonight).  The Hawks come in after a big win against Snookie and the rest of the gang on the Jersey Shore.  The Flames are clawing for their playoff hopes.  And by clawing I mean choking away any hope they have at avoiding what has to be a shitty golf scene up in Calgary.

The Flames are tied with Colorado at 89 points for the final spot in the playoffs.  The problem for Calgary is that not only do the Avs have one extra game left to play, but they would also win the tiebreaker for wins.  SportsClubStats says the Flames have only a 23% chance of making the playoffs.  At one point they were sitting pretty comfortably in the playoff picture, but then Detroit went on their Rape and Pillage World Tour, which bumped Calgary to 9.  The Flames hope they win today and the Avs lose in regulation to the Sharks.  That would bump up their chance of making the playoffs to about 37%.  The outlook is pretty bleak.

The Blackhawks are still looking for that solid 60 minute effort that has been so fleeting in recent weeks.  The effort in Jersey was much better than the turd burger they had against the Blues, but it still was spotty at best.  In first 10 minutes against the Devils, the Hawks got dominated.  I’m a little afraid that the same will happen today.  Afternoon games have the tendency to throw the Hawks off of their groove.

But wait! There is hope yet for the mighty Blackhawks, for our goalie messiah has arrived from Finland!  Niemi has played a solid couple games in a row and now its pretty clear that he’ll be the guy who leads the Hawks into the playoffs.  Now I say that from a place of logic and reasoning, but remember the three things that Coach Q has been faulty at historically: 1. Winning in the playoffs, 2. Creating lines that stick, and 3. Managing goalies.  Logic might not be the best way to approach this.  Niemi is the starter now, but you never know if he’ll be able to sustain this high level of play and if Q won’t kill his confidence somehow.

Thankfully, the Hawks are facing a half dozen ex-Leafs.  Seriously, this team traded for Vesa Freakin’ Toskala who has bordered on historically bad for an NHL goalie all season.  In all honesty, the only player on that roster who I’m scared of is Jarome Iginla.  I know Rene Bourque has been better than when he was in Chicago, but he still isn’t someone who I would want to pay $3 million to be a goal scorer.

So now is the time where I tie in Easter.  Let’s hope the corpse of the Calgary Flames doesn’t rise on Easter afternoon.  Like a wounded animal, they can be dangerous.  The Hawks could probably get away with less than 100% effort and if they do, it won’t be the end of the world.  This game doesn’t count for a whole lot.  How about we just make sure we lock up at least one point so we can celebrate Easter with a division title. Sound good? Okay, Let’s Go Hawks. (and that ends the least inspirational pregame of all time.)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 4, 2010 10:49 AM

    Psh. You forget– a win today, or at least a point, clinches Central Division for us. Soooo it can mean a lot. 😛

    • April 4, 2010 1:46 PM

      True, but if the Wings don’t win then it doesn’t matter what the Hawks do.

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