CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 17: Tomas Kopecky #82 of the Chicago Blackhawks playfully smacks teammate Corey Crawford #50 in the face after a win over the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center on December 17, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Red Wings 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
We had hoped the Hawks would start the second half with a bang on Wednesday, instead of the half-thud the loss to the Stars was. Oh well, time to move on. We can sit here and bemoan the penalty shot that Viktor Stalberg miraculously managed to connect all three posts on, or Steve Ott's dive, or Patrick Sharp's equalizing effort that was desperately cleared. But if the Hawks had bothered to show up for all 60 minutes, none of it would have mattered.
Luckily, the Hawks get a full weekend of facing the bottom feeders of the league in Ottawa and Long Island. If they can't get something resembling a roll going in the next two games, I give you full permission to hit the panic button. We know it's throbbing at this point.
Once again Coach Qunneville has hit the line slot machine, and come up with this lineup:
Forward Line 1: Viktor Stalberg-Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane
Line 2: Tomas Kopecky-Patrick Sharp-Marian Hossa
Line 3:Fernando Pisani-Dave Bolland-Bryan Bickell
Line 4: Troy Brouwer-Jake Dowell-Jack Skille
There's also one change on defense as Nick Leddy has been called up and will partner Jordan Hendry on the third pair. I like Nick Leddy, and he looks like he could be very good and very fun to watch in the future. But he does not solve the Hawks problems, which is a big, hulking doofus who can block shots and clear the crease on the penalty kill. He's another smallish, puck-moving defenseman. Maybe the brass thinks that having another guy out there for 15 minutes a night who can push the play to the other end will help alleviate. I'm willing to see, but once they have to kill a penalty, it's unclear how Leddy will help.
As for the forwards, this makes a whole lot more sense. All these have worked in the past at some point, though Brouwer is unlucky to be demoted when he's been the only physical presence on the top 3 lines.
Whatever. If the Hawks even come close to bringing a top effort tonight, they'll win. The Senators are a leaky defensive team with no weapons and a goalie who's been rocked in his last three games. For once, make it an easy night on us.