It took a surprisingly long time to get to this game, and the time apart has only made us anticipate it more. Our resident Wings fan commented on our last post here at PowWow, and I responded. Here is my response which says a little about my perspective on coming into tonight's big game:
"Equally excited OneTeam. My focus is not on goaltending as much as it is on preparedness. The Hawks have had a habit of not being prepared against many teams. They have however, been cited as coming out strong in conference games that matter. Well, that would be tonight. Time for the Hawks to put their money where their mouths are.
But, on goaltending; Crawford had maybe his best game of the season the other night against LA. It ended in a loss, but he still looked really strong.
I will be looking for a Scott-less line-up tonight and a D-core that includes Lepisto. He is at the time being, our best option. Carcillo has been mentioned as returning tonight which is much needed. If I were Q, I would put him in Brunette's spot on the top line and knock Bruno to the 4th line. Im not convinced in Bickell yet and might start him on the 4th line with Fro back on the 3rd. Mayers, Bruno, Bickell could be a strong 4th line, and Fro might be ignited by Stalberg's recent production (I doubt it). Still, Fro works harder than Bickell.
Pirri stays on the 2nd line and I anticipate a goal from him tonight, or at least a couple of assists. He has been looking solid out there and confidence might be his key tonight.
Should be a good game. High scoring is a large possibility."
I wrote this before looking into the game preview information. When I did, I was shocked to find out that Kane was being moved back to center and that Jimmy Hayes was being called up. This didn't exactly excite me. I have been curious about when Hayes would get the nod, but it just doesn't make sense right now.
Then I saw that Kane was not going to be centering Sharp and Hossa, he was going to be centering Sharp and Stalberg. I also saw that Pirri was getting sent back down to make room for Hayes. Send a center down and bring a winger up. Makes sense.
If I get to far into why this makes little sense to me, this post will get way too lengthy. The gist of it is that I don't like seeing too much change, especially coming into tonight's game. Why the sudden belief in Stalberg? I mean, I always saw his talent and predicted his rise in play, but this is sort of A.D.D really. I think Q has A.D.D. You also break up the success that was present just a few games back in offensive scoring. One shut-out game does not make it necessary to change everything.
The removal of Pirri from the roster just makes it more obvious that they never expect to keep any of their prospects up, even if they look good. This is just exposure to help their growth. So Hayes shouldn't get too comfortable. It also causes the Hawks to look even more cocky about their situation. Things are not perfect enough for this experimentation. My feeling is that they should be intent on winning the Cup this year and be making the proper choices to get them there, no matter the cost.
Enough about that rant. I have a 2nd half to my "Hawks at 35" post in the works and this will most likely get added to that now.
Tonight's game proves to be even more interesting that I imagined. I felt a big reason for Kane's success at center was the result of playing with Hossa. Let us see if Stalberg can be that big now. Lets just face the facts, Kane does not play a center's position on the ice after the face-off, especially in their own zone, where they have been hurting the most.
Hayes should add some physical play however, which if it is the main focus of the Hawks makes sense. Now they have a big body on every line (this suggests that Stalberg is a big body).
I now look at the game as a crap-shoot. The way Q deals the cards, who knows what the hell will happen. If they win, it will be because Stalberg comes up big, and that the 3rd line figures their stuff out without Stalberg helping the cause.
Lines will look as such:
Toews, Hossa, Carcillo
Kane, Sharp, Stalberg
Bolland, Frolik, Bickell
Mayers, Brunette, Hayes
Haven't seen these yet. How many possible combinations are there?