The Hawks are having something of a torrid time lately. A “Blip”, a “Stutter”, call it what you will. But if you’re planning on calling it a “Slump” then you might want to take a look at tonight’s opponents and thank your lucky stars, because the LA Kings are having one hell of a slump right now.

 

While the Hawks’ 4-2-4 over the last 10 may not make for a happy bedtime story, last years’ Western Conference Finalists are having Drunk Auntie Harrida settle them down for the night by reading them Naked Lunch in Serbo-Croatian. 2-7-1 is the worst 10 game streak in the League (yes, including Buffalo, who have at least  managed to pick up two extra loserpoints). The Kings have lost the ability to score (aside from Anze Kopitar) and Jon Quick, while he hasn’t exactly been bad, hasn’t been superhuman enough to steal them low-scoring games.

It’s hard to say why this should be the case. The Kings are more-or-less the same bunch who stomped their way to the Cup two seasons ago and to the WCF last year. They still play the same old way (this is a Darryl Sutter team, after all) but it’s just not working for them. Possibly it’s a loss of form by multiple players at once, possibly they’ve lost faith in the system or possibly teams have figured out how to deal with their particular brand of Crash-The-Crease hockey. Whatever the malaise is, it’s left them far adrift of Anaheim and San Jose in the Pacific and nervously looking at Phoenix and Vancouver over their shoulders. Admittedly, neither of those teams are exactly setting the world on fire (heyo, Vancouver!) but it won’t take much of a hot streak by either to plunge the Kings into the maelstrom that the Wild Card places are shaping up to be.

Of course, the Hawks are hardly kicking ass either, although there have been some green shoots showing. They’re coming off a SO loss to the Sharks after an even contest and a pudwhacking of the Nucks before that. Word is that Bryan Bickell is back in tonight with Michal Handzus sitting. Call me crazy, but I think I’d rather have seen Marian Hossa, he of the numerous maintainence days lately, being the scratch. Just to give him a break. Handzus would be useful against the Kings’ size, especially on the PK.. and I feel a stint with Toews & Sharp (even if he is on the wrong wing) would be good for Bicks.

Crawford will be your starter in net, and he’ll be spending plenty of time with LA forwards getting in his grille.

The Season sweep of the Kings is there for the taking, but never going to be an easy task. The Kings are desperate to get some momentum and the team that emphatically crushed their own Repeat hopes last year would seem like the perfect place to start.

 

Puck drop is 9.30..