Hunting Gadwalls: ‘Hawks at “Don’t call them Mighty” Ducks preview


UPDATE:  Tim Sassone  reports Corey Crawford will start in goal tonight.

The fact today is St. Patrick’s Day makes it even more depressing our red-headed Irish defenseman will be sitting at home wearing one of those funky braces to help treat a broken collarbone.

Tonight begins the rest of the Blackhawks’ regular-season lives without Brian Campbell as the Four Feathers travel to Anaheim to begin a three-game west coast swing against the Ducks. A banged-up Kim Johnsson will move up to the second unit with Niklas Hjalmarsson to form a Swedish tag team behind the usual pair of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, who continues to play like an ass hat.

Blackhawks fans seem to have the mentality of, “Eh, he’ll come around eventually,” regarding Seabrook’s play. Well, it’s going on two months and he needs to get his head out of his ass — especially now.

Brent Sopel and Jordan Hendry will make up the third unit, which made my fingers bleed a bit as I typed it. I’ve been a big fan of Hendry and think he’s got a bright future in the League, but I’m interested to see how he handles himself with extended minutes. And the image of Sopel getting out-muscled by Scott Hartnell of the Flyers on Saturday still burns in my head.

I can talk about possibilities and the looks of the defense all night, but the fact of the matter is each unit needs to be solid in front of Antti Niemi, who will get the start tonight while Cristobal Huet nurses the flu. The last thing I need is to vomit up green beer because Q-Stache is forced to pull Niemi in favor of Corey Crawford.

If the Ducks play a first period anything like Sunday, the ‘Hawks could be in for a long night. Anaheim scored three goals on Evgeni Nabokov on its way to a 4-2 win against the Sharks. The win came with a price, as both Teemu Selanne — who scored his 599th career goal — and Ryan Getzlaf left the game early with injuries.

Curtis Zupke of The Orange County Register reports both are likely to play tonight despite some pain. Selanne was held out of drills but skated in practice, while Getzlaf sat out simply to rest his nagging ankle injury which has been bugging him since the Olympics. George Parros and his mustache are both expected to play as well.

That’s good news for an Anaheim team which has lost six of its last eight games, including a five-game slide before Sunday’s win against San Jose. The Ducks are 10 points out of the final playoff spot in the West and seem all but done barring a miracle run.

It’s no secret the ‘Hawks have had trouble solving Jonas Hiller, who has played all 14 games since the Ducks shipped J.S. Giguere to Toronto. Here’s to hoping he finally gets a night off.

How about the play of Kris Versteeg lately? Kid’s been all over the place, and the ‘Hawks will need more of that. They’ll also need the Patrick Sharp/Dave Bolland/Troy Brouwer line to step up its play after down weekend. Jonathan Toews, keep doing what you’re doing.

I’ll be watching the game at Cans in Wicker Park and getting lit for St. Patty’s Day if anyone wants to join. Faceoff is at 9 p.m. CST. GO ‘HAWKS!!

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