NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 01: Patrick Sharp #10 of the Chicago Blackhawks skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on November 1, 2010 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Blackhawks 3-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Patrick Sharp
Now that we've listened to our aunt's boring shopping stories, and stuffed ourselves full of various meats and cheeses, and drank too much wine in order to pretend we can stand our families for more then seven consecutive seconds, it's time to get back to life. Well, not life, but hockey, which is infinitely more fun than life.
The Hawks return to the ice in their traditional Boxing Day home game. If you don't know what Boxing Day is, just know it's something Canadians and the British celebrate, automatically making it not worth your time. They will face basement-dwelling Columbus to begin the rush to close out 2010.
Reports out of practice have Marian Hossa and Viktor Stalberg returning to the lineup. Jordan Hendry and recent signing Ryan Johnson will make way for them. Patrick Kane is still nursing his ankle and may make a return later in the week, but not tonight. We really have no guess at what the forward lines will look like. You can guess the bottom six won't see much change from the previous three games, with Jack Skille and Jake Dowell moving down to drag around John Scott all night. That won't be much different than dragging around Tomas Kopecky, which they've been doing anyway. The checking line of Bryan Bickell-Dave Bolland-Fernando Pisani will almost certainly stay intact.
Speaking of Kopecky, what we're hearing is that he will move to center instead of Patrick Sharp. This always ends in disaster, as Kop's inability to win a faceoff or be physically defensively always ends up in he and his line getting murdered. He'll have his banky Marian Hossa on his side, and maybe that helps. But let's hope this experiment does not last long. It is not a recipe for success.
However it shakes out, the Hawks must bring the same game we've seen the last three. While fears of what shape they might be in after three days off are valid (the morning skate nust have been hilarious), the Hawks need to close out this homestand with a win. If they are active in their zone as they have been, and forecheck the Jackets d-men like the marmot in the tub scaring The Dude, they'll be just fine. This is not a strong outfit on the other side of the ice, but if you give them a chance they can hurt you.