Circus Trip 2011 hits the Canadian Rockies tonight as the Hawks show up at the Saddledome for a date with the Flames. It also will mark the quarter pole of the season, which in some ways makes the season feel as if it's flown by and also indicates just how incredibly far there is to go.
The Hawks have injury concerns still. Brent Seabrook isn't going to play again, and would have to be doubtful for the 2nd half of the Alberta Double tomorrow in Edmonton. Michael Frolik is also a doubt after crashing into the boards bent in half in Vancouver, where he could have injured any one of his head, neck, or back. But good luck finding out which. As expected, the Hawks did call up Ben Smith to replace Rostislav Olesz yesterday, and look for #28 to immediately be in the lineup. Probably on the 4th line to start, but as always these things can change in a hurry.
The Hawks pretty much cantored by the Flames a week ago when Calgary was at the United Center. The Flames have played twice since, beating an Avalanche team in Colorado that they always seem to toy with, and then losing badly at home to an Ottawa team that's lottery pick material. They put 39 shots on the Senators, but only scored once. It's been a familiar refrain for them, as they just don't have a lot of finishers even when they carry the play outside of Canadian God Jarome Iginla, and even he is off to his now customary slow start.
The Hawks have some things to clean up after what would initially appear to be a sterling victory over the Canucks. While 5-1 wins in Rogers Arena are always going to put a beaming smile on the Nation, the Hawks could have easily found themselves in a mire. They were sloppy in their own zone, especially in the 1st period. Luckily, the Flames don't come with nearly the speed that the Canucks do, so the Hawks should have more time to work their way from their own end than the did on Wednesday. When they don't, the Flames won't have nearly the weaponry that misfired for Vancouver.
The Hawks lost twice in Calgary last year, something that should be atoned. The Flames are a collection of plodders and miscreants, and shouldn't be able to keep up. They couldn't here at the United Center. While Mikka Kiprusoff is always capable of stealing a game, he rarely has ve. Chicago. If the Hawks are at ruthless as they were on the Canadian West Coast, they'll find themselves heading north tonight with another two points in the bag.