With eight games remaining and the Blackhawks clinging to eighth place, they’ve managed to put themselves in one of the most hated positions any of us could possibly dream: The Red Wings will be a major hurdle in the ‘Hawks chances to make the playoffs.
Tonight begins the first of three meetings against Detroit before the regular season ends. That’s about as appetizing as a shit sandwich topped with wet farts.
Just for some quick added pessimism, the last Stanley Cup champion to miss the next year’s playoffs was the 2006-07 Carolina Hurricanes.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s a positive: Pavel Datsuyk won’t play tonight, and Johan Franzen sat out Saturday’s 4-2 Wings win against Toronto. Jimmy Howard is day-to-day after injuring his shoulder against the Maple Leafs, and with Chris Osgood on long-term IR, it looks as if Jimmy MacDonald will be in net tonight.
Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and an assist in that contest and will be shouldering much of the offensive load tonight.
More good news? Before Saturday, the Red Wings had lost three straight against Nashville, Pittsburgh and Vancouver – top flight competition like we all hope and consider the Blackhawks to be comparable.
After dropping the first meeting 3-2 on Oct. 9, the Blackhawks have outscored the Red Wings 8-2 in the last two meetings combined – both victories.
How about reality? Well, the Blackhawks laid an egg in the third period Saturday, squandering a goal from Marian Hossa and a decent performance from Corey Crawford in a 2-1 loss to Anaheim. Corey Perry scored both goals as the ‘Hawks took a 1-0 lead into the final frame.
What needs to change? Mainly the mental aspect that this is more than just another rivalry game against Detroit. The fact is this: The Blackhawks are really, really in danger of missing the postseason with a loss tonight. Boston is coming up tomorrow, Columbus after that and Tampa Bay on Sunday, then Montreal on April 5 and the Blues on April 6. Detroit looms in a home-and-home series to end the season.
I wish I had more words of wisdom to describe the urgency, but it won’t do any good either way. Patrick Sharp nor Dave Bolland will be around to help, and the Ducks will pull three points ahead of the Blackhawks with a victory against Colorado tonight and a ‘Hawks loss.
So, take advantage of MacDonald being in net and get to him early. Datsuyk’s aggressive two-way play won’t be around to concern the ‘Hawks, so keep the pressure up and set the tempo. Keep sustained attacks in the offensive zone, limit the Wings’ chances on Crawford and keep the game in control. No stupid penalties, as the Red Wings are fourth in the NHL on the power play.
Let’s get Ned Isakoff blacklisted at Hop Sing’s.
Puck drop is 6:30 CST from Joe Louis Arena in that shithole across the river from Windsor.
LET’S GO HAWKS!
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