I looked back at the Blackhawks’ schedule several times, and still couldn’t believe that we had only met up with Detroit (*spitting noise*) once so far this season. It seemed unreasonable, since we play them six times during the campaign. But then I remembered what a typical season schedule looks like, and I looked ahead to April. We play them three times in the last eight games. And, we play them tonight.
The Hawks are coming off two emasculating losses to the Colorado Avalanche, which I won’t go into for fear of tearing my laptop apart like a spiral notebook in fits of barely-controllable rage. They now must look ahead to tonight’s game with the team that is leading the Central Division and sits first overall in the Western Conference by a sizable margin. Oh goodie.
The news out of the Motor City is not good — for us. The Red Wings are firing on all cylinders. Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Dan Cleary (who is going by “Danny” now, and who also has signed an endorsement deal with Playtex Sport tampons), and Johan Franzen already have 10 goals and 20+ points each, with Tomas Holmstrom knocking on the door. Their core is all healthy, plus nearly everyone on the friggin’ team is in positive territory on their plus-minus. On the back end, goaltender Jimmy Howard is getting it done — 17 wins, only 5 losses and 2 humiliations in OT.
The only cause for optimism is that the Scum have lost four of their last seven, including two to Los Angeles and one to San Jose. The Red Wings are not invincible: with the right strategy on the right night, they can be taken down.
On the Blackhawks’ side of things, the roster silliness is about to get even more silly, and this morning saw the start of it all. Confident and capable rookie call-up Jeremy Morin was sent back to Rockford on Thursday. He has played 9 games with the Blackhawks this season. The fine print on an entry-level contract says that a player’s first year is one in which he plays 10 or more NHL games. The recalling of somebody *other* than Scorin’ Morin this morning gave a clear signal that the Blackhawks organ-eye-zation is as yet unwilling to breech that threshold, and so we have seen the last of him for the season. Great job kid, we’ll see you in camp next year. If you don’t make the team straight out of camp next year, I’ll personally egg Bowman’s house.
The reason we need a forward called up at all is that while Dave Bolland returned from a brief injury respite on Wednesday against Colorado, and Fernando Pisani is returning tonight from an upper-body injury (*COUGH* con *COUGH* cuss *COUGH* ion *COUGH* *COUGH*), a deliberate hit to the head by Colorado shit-stain Ryan O’Byrne has knocked Viktor Stalberg out of the lineup, also with a don’t-say-the-c-word.
Yesterday Patrick Kane reportedly aggravated the injury he is supposed to be recovering from and set his return date back to Sunday or even further; and Marian Hossa is a no-go for tonight, and nobody has announced when he is expected to return.
So who are we calling up? Hold on to your hats.
About a week ago we reported that journeyman center Ryan Johnson was signing a tryout contract with the Rockford IceHogs, looking for a shot to get back into the NHL. We were speculating that the Hawks were just doing some roster management with back-fill for the time that some youngsters were either going to be with the big club or off at the World Juniors. But it appears both Johnson and the Blackhawks had the same idea from the get-go: yesterday he signed a one-year, two-way contract with Chicago, and will be wearing the Indian Head sweater with number 17 tonight.
Center/winger Ryan Johnson has played in 667 games over 12 NHL seasons with the Panthers, Lightning, Blues and Canucks. He stands 6′ 1″, 202 lbs. and shoots left. His lengthy career also comes with quite a list of injuries: a concussion, separated shoulder, a broken foot, another broken foot, and ANOTHER broken foot. Additionally he has been diagnosed with a heart abnormality, the status of which only he and team doctors know. United Center crew would do well to keep the defibrillators charged and ready. During the 2009-10 season with Vancouver he played in 58 games, scoring once and adding four assists, and went pointless in four playoff games.
Furthermore, just shy of noon today defenseman Jassen Cullimore was put on waivers by the team, a sign that they are preparing to send him down to Rockford. Assuming he clears tomorrow, that’s likely where he’ll go. It remains to be seen why the team is doing this. Recent rumors have suggested that Stan Bowman has been hoping to upgrade on the blue line, but how can he with only a sliver of cap space left?
Well! Did you get all that? It will be interesting to see if we can match the total from the 1998-99 season, when 43 different skaters put on a Hawks jersey during the regular season — and that doesn’t include the 4 goaltenders.
And speaking of goaltenders: after Wednesday’s loss it was 4 – 3 and pick-em as to who would get the start tonight. Marty Turco has lost or gotten yanked in his last three starts; and Corey Crawford has looked increasingly shaky, losing his last two games with a 3.71 GAA during that stretch. Chicago’s netminder options have gone from good-and-better to bad-and-worse. Coach Joel Quenneville has put his trust in Crawford for this outing. We’ll see if he’s right.
Puck drops at 7:30pm. It’s a national broadcast on the NHL Network for those of you outside the Windy City; Comcast SportNet for the local viewers. Broadcast radio is WGN AM-720, and XM subscribers should look for channel 207.
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Tonight is Chris Chelios Heritage Night at the Blackhawks game. They will be giving away Chris Chelios Heritage hats to the first 10,000 fans. So please, let some kid have yours. It’s unlikely the little piker will be old enough to know why we hate the old turn-coat shit-bag.
Booing is permissable, but please, don’t spit. You might hit the Ice Crew.