The San Jose Sha-Arks come to snowbound Chicago and they won’t even be the coldest representatives from California playing tonight. Hopefully everyone is safe and well stocked with booze because tonight should be fun. Last time these guys were here was the day of the tornadoes and I got to go to the game at the UC (thanks @Schatzipage!) at short notice. That was a 5-1 laugher as the Hawks bounced back from a humbling in Nashville. Tonight they return home after a (reasonably) successful swing to the East Coast and face up to one of the powerhouse Pacific teams, albeit one that is beaten up and stumbling a little.
The Sharks dropped a 3-4 decision in Denver last night and are without a slew of talented forwards (Hertl, Havlat, Wingels) and assholes (Torres, Burish). They’ve had to make several callups from the AHL and rejig their lines, which is tough for them because Joe Pavelski had been doing stellar work slaying bums on the 3rd. He’ll move up to play with Thornton & Burns on the top line which will leave the Sharks a little top-heavy. Q should be able to get some results with careful matchups and tonight might be a good night for the 3rd line to snap out of its funk. If any of them get more than 10 minutes, that is.
On the Blueline you have the usual Sharks mess. Marc-Edouard Vlasic may well be going to Sochi, Dan Boyle has serious offensive upside and after that.. well, I had to look them up. Antti Niemi will probably start tonight, despite getting chased by the Avs. He’s not been great lately but is always capable of standing on his head when he needs to.
For the Hawks, it looks as though we’ll be sticking with the formation that finished off against the Devils: Saad promoted to the 2nd line and Versteeg dropping back. As I mentioned before, I like this a lot for Kane’s sake but I’m not 100% sure what that 3rd is going to be like. No word on who the 6th defenseman will be as yet but it seems like it’s Kostka’s turn? Corey Crawford will return to the UC for the first time since his injury so that Antti Raanta can drink Finlandia on the bench to celebrate the WJC win.
The Sharks are always entertaining: they play smart, uptempo Hockey and are capable of skating with the Hawks for long stretches. Of course there will also be Jumbo Joe and His Amazing Performing Elbows as he starts getting into Chapter XVIIX of his long-running game with Toews, even though Toews is contemplating Checkmate while Joe just slid down a snake. While getting a dice stuck up his nose.
Before I go, big shoutout to Blackhawks prospect Teuvo Teravainen who helped Finland to their World Junior Championship today. If you didn’t see the game, find some highlights online: Teravainen had an assist on all 3 Finnish goals (and finished the tournament as leading points scorer) and his feed from behind the net for Finland’s second goal will have you drooling in anticipation of this kid arriving in Chicago.
OK. Be safe, especially if you’re travelling to the UC. Also, if you’d like to contribute to a very worthy cause, our buddy at The Committed Indian, Matthew Killion, is finally going to do what everyone tells him and go jump in a lake. Lake Michigan, to be precise. Even the amount of beer that Kills drinks on a daily basis won’t be enough to adequately insulate him . Details are here..
Very last of all, our buddy Christian, one of the gang of idiots who run this site, has been unwell lately.. luckily he’s on the mend and we’d like to wish him a speedy recovery. He’ll be a lawyer soon and god knows we’ll need him if we end up in a series with St Louis