Will we witness another black Tuesday tonight at Rexall Place? On Dec 16, 2008 the Blackhawks strolled into Rexall Place and demolished the Oilers 9-2. The Hawks scored four PP goals, one SH goal and four EV goals. It was a debacle of monumental proportions, to quote Craig MacTavish.
The Hawks are 2-0 so far this year against the Oilers and tonight they enter Rexall for game six of an eight-game road trip. The Hawks are 3-2 on the trip so far, but are coming off a 5-1 loss in Vancouver. The Hawks sit second in the NHL and their depth is comparable to Wanye’s knowledge of the exact ratio of alcohol to food intake that a human can have while remaining coherent. So yes, the Hawks are a deep team.
Tonight won’t be the most watched battle of the season between these two, because they face off Mar 3 in Chicago: Trade Deadline Day. Twelve teams will be in action that night including every other NW division team, the Flyers, Capitals, Panthers, Ducks, Wings and Sabres.
After next Monday’s Thirst for First tilt v. Carolina, Mar 3 will be the most anticipated game of the season for the Oiler faithful. Who will remain an Oiler? Will there be some new young blood, or will the future be built with draft picks? Or will Steve Tambellini have struck out? The latter is not an option.
The Oilers will need their best effort tonight just to avoid getting embarrassed. The Hawks don’t have any glaring weaknesses, except some whispers about their goaltending. The Hawks have the fourth best PP at 25.9%, while their road PK is average at 80% good for 19th in the league. They have the league’s best home PK at 91.6% and are fourth overall.
The Oilers are seventh best at home on the PP with a respectful 21.6% efficiency, while their home PK is atrocious at 74.2% good for 28th in the league. If the Oilers can draw some penalties they should make a game of it tonight.
The Oilers had 15 skaters and the goalies on the ice this morning and didn’t do any line drills. Shawn Horcoff, Ethan Moreau, Fernando Pisani, Sheldon Souray and Lubomir Visnovsky didn’t skate, but did a light off-ice work out.
Mike Comrie and Gilbert Brule both skated but they were the last two on the ice, which means neither will play tonight. Jeff Deslauriers will get the assignment to try and get the Oilers their second win in twenty games.
Taylor Chorney was recalled yesterday and will play because Steve Staios and Ladislav Smid are still out with concussion issues.
The Trade Watch
The Blackhawks have to make a move when they activate Dave Bolland and the sense amongst the Chicago beat guys is that Stan Bowman will either make a big move, possibly going after Kovalchuk and dump off nine or million dollars to the Thrashers, or he will make a small move to get under the cap and stick with this team.
It seems obvious that Bowman will have to move two of Cam Barker, Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien and Patrick Sharp and maybe three of them. In the summer he won’t get face value because every team knows they are in a cap crunch, so he might be better off to ship a few of those guys to the Thrashers and take Kovalchuk for the playoffs, even though it is unlikely they could re-sign him.
The Hawks haven’t sipped from the Stanley Cup since 1961, the longest drought in the NHL, and this might be the year to go for broke. While the Oilers, Hurricanes and Leafs will be selling guys off in the next month, the Blackhawks might make a big move.