Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks talks with his players during a stop in play in the second period against the Boston Bruins on March 29, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
Maybe the Hawks can dispense some advice to Saturday night's opponent about how to deal with hangovers. The men in red are certainly going to recognize the symptoms.
The Boston Bruins, otherwise known as the defending champs, venture to Chicago in something of a haze. That silver chalice made them the toast of The Hub, but there are some side effects.
We learned that lesson harshly.
The B's have started the season off-kilter, going 1-3. They've lost at home to the Flyers and Avalanche (getting shut out), and on the road to the Hurricanes. Worrying for the supporters of the Black and Gold is they've looked lethargic and distracted while doing so.
The new season comes around awfully quick after a Cup, doesn't it lads?
Although this time, instead of a bunch of kids trying to see through the cloud of bourbon and vodka they spent two months spilling on themselves, plus a roster gutting, the Bruins may be dealing with some cases of advanced age. There are a lot more players here pushing 30 than the Hawks had, and the miles covered last season aren't so easily washed from the odometer.
The B's also have almost no injection of new blood which might have spruced the spirit a little. But the defense has been pretty solid, and that's where most of the years are collected. Some of that has to do with outstanding play from both Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask, as Boston is yielding 32 shots per game so far.
That doesn't mean Saturday night's task is an easy one. Two players to watch out for are Brad Marchand and young gun Tyler Seguin. Seguin in particular looks inspired after a brief glimpse of greatness in last year's playoff. Due to David Krejci's injury, Seguin is centering the top line and is a danger every time. He's stronger than he was, the Bruins' fastest skater by some distance, and their most dynamic. You'll know when he has the puck.
The Bruins play a nasty game, full of beating your defensemen into a smear on the end boards and their behemoth blue line grappling with your forwards on theirs. They can really turn a game into a slog. But if their feet aren't moving, and they haven't been, the Hawks can expose a lack of quickness on the backend. The more it's a track meet the more it favors the Hawks. Boston would rather this resemble the Royal Rumble.
Even if you do that, you still have to get the puck past Cirque de Solei performer Tim Thomas, who can make your night all kinds of heartbreak. But Thomas is so wild in net, if the Hawks are patient enough and take that extra second, passes across the attacking zone and a simple move will see a lot of open nets to take aim at. But that's sounds good on paper. On ice, it's a different matter.
Sam Fels is the proprietor of The Committed Indian, an unofficial program for the Blackhawks. You may have seen him hocking the magazine outside the United Center at Gate 3. The program is also available for purchase online. Fels is a lifelong 'Hawks fan and he also writes for Second City Hockey .