Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, left, makes a save on a shot by Detroit Red Wings right wing Todd Bertuzzi, as Dylan Olsen also defends during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
The Hawks will try to being to reverse the losing streak the reversed the winning streak that partially reversed the losing streak before that. I know, it's dizzying, but such is the way with this team right now. I don't like it any more than you.
When the Hawks take the ice against the Senators Friday night, they'll recognize more than the red and black color scheme. That's because the Sens are a high-scoring, barely-defending, goofy penatly kill with questionable goaltending team. This one could end up 7-6 quite easily.
However, while the Hawks are searching furiously through the basement and under the couch and bed to find their game, the Sens have found theirs. They've won six of their last seven, and are coming off an impressive shutout of the Bruins in Boston. The most eye-opening facet of that game was the way the Senators didn't wilt in the face of the Bruins physical prowess, and in fact threw it right back at them. That could mean a team willing to impose itself on the Hawks tonight, which they haven't always dealt with well. Or it could be that after a big win over a division rival, they're in for a letdown tonight. Never can tell say the old folks and all that.
Ottawa is led by center Jason Spezza and breakout defensive star Erik Karlsson. The latter has a real shot to break 80 points from the blue line, which is an accomplishment these days. But Karlsson is an excellent represenative of the Sens as a whole. He's wonderful when pointed forward, heavily dangerous in the offensive zone, but questionable when going backwards. He's improved greatly, but still has his yips. So does the rest of the defense. They're 19th in goals-allowed, while tied with the Hawks is goals-for. Spezza is finally healthy after a couple years of breaking down, and could reach 90 points with a strong finish.
Daniel Alfredsson is the ageless captain who still is their most likely to get a big goal, and though slumping at the moment Milan Michalek is a capable sniper with 28 goals to his name.
Ray Emery gets the start, other than that there won't be any lineup changes. Without Toews, you fear for the Hawks in a game that could very well be OK Corral-style. So they'll just have to get the defensive structure right for once. Yeah, that doesn't make me feel good either.