Chicago Blackhawks v Detroit Red Wings.

Chicago Blackhawks v Detroit Red Wings.

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?

Comments

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  • (I left the beginning of this note on the other column as well)

    High scoring was my first guess as well. I have been watching the GF for both teams (CHI 122 DET 118--Hawks have a game in hand) Its entirely possible we could see 11 goals tonight (which would be fun) However, I think Jimmy Howard keeps with his GAA and leaves it up up to the CHI D-men to stop us. From the sounds of it, the D has had its issues protecting your goalie(s) this season. If that is the case tonight, I think we'll see a 5-2 wings victory.

    After reading the article above: The Wings have been getting fantastic production from their 3rd and 4th lines this month. Do you think Q's moves could have anything to do with balancing his lines to offset this otherwise unlikely scoring threat? I mean, I would love to think teams had to make adjustments over players like Drew Miller and Cory Emmerton! Ha ha ( I know...not likely)

    I can't wait. Wife is watching the baby tonight and Im out with the boys to catch this one over a few beers in Detroit friendly pub! What a great excuse to get out of the house for a few hours and have a few glasses of Loud Mouth! Win or lose, these have become my favorite games of the regular season over the last few seasons! Good luck boys!

  • HH, I'm laughing. A.D.D. about sums up Q perfectly. I'm with you all the way here. We need to be careful though as Analysis Paralysis is an insidious side effect of trying to figure out what this joker is up to.

    Seriously though, looks like the injury to Kruger is the key here and Pirri—while he looked smooth—wasn't contributing a lot. So these moves with the addition of Carcillo are a result of that. I've never seen Hayes play so no comment here.

    OneTeam, the key to beating the 'hawks is to go hard to the net and from what I've seen of the wings this year that's already a big part of their script. If the 'hawks show up from the outset we might have a chance. If they fall behind then there may be a high scoring game as Q goes into panic mode and shortens his bench by 6 players. Otherwise a 3-2 nailbiter. First goal is huge on how 'hawks play.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    I thought Pirri looked really good. No, he wasn't producing points, but a few of his smart plays ended in goals. What he did was play a wonderful center position. He was physical and working the play like a center should do. I felt that Sharp and Hossa were slightly off the past 2 games, especially Hossa and that probably had more to do with it. The fact is, Pirri came in and played his position exceptionally well. For ideas on how a center should move, just look at Toews and Bolland. Kane plays too high in the defensive zone as a center, and this is where the Hawks are currently hurting the most.

    To OneTeams comment about this being a move to match the Wings bottom 2 lines. No, the Hawks were starting to get more out of those lines before this change. My bold styled comment above would have resulted in a stronger bottom half.

    With all that said, I am curious to see Hayes. I just thought it would have made more sense to put him in Bickell's role for a few games. Less disruption this way, and Bickell's spot has been of some concern. Hayes on the 4th does little, because like FF just mentioned, I am anticipating the shortened bench as well. Sure hope Toews, Kane, Hossa, Sharp, and Stalberg for that matter had their Wheaties today. And Keith will break 30 minutes for sure. First goal is going to be the result of O'Donnell not being able to keep up. Then he won't break 10 minutes of ice.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    I agree about Pirri. There seemed to be more upside than down. Of all the call-ups he looked the most polished and ready to stick.

    Q likes his vets there's no doubt about it and he definitely has his favorites and his whipping boys: see Lepisto, Sami.

    I stated a few threads back that I thought the chance to win this year was close to as good as two-years ago. I think SB will look for veteran help when the deal is there. No call-ups will stick unless the injury bug necessitates it. Otherwise, these cameo appearances by the Ice-hogs could be showcasing them for said deal.

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