The last nine days of the 2009 year look to be quite the challenge for the Hawks. While the month of December has once again seen the Hawks playing their best hockey of the season, the last six games appear to be quite a daunting task.
- First up is the San Jose Sharks. So far, the Hawks have faced them twice, winning at home in overtime and then sticking the gag ball in their mouth at the Shark Tank the day before Thanksgiving. I don’t really subscribe to the theory that San Jose will come out extra motivated because of their last meeting. That also doesn’t mean they won’t give the Hawks all they can handle.
- Wednesday, they’ll take on Detroit. The word is Jimmy Howard will get the start in net and there are rumblings Valtteri Filppula will be making his return to the lineup after missing the last two months with a broken wrist. If the Hawks beat the Sharks and the Wings, they’ll move 12 points ahead of Detroit with a game at hand.
- Saturday and Sunday, they have a home and home with the Nashville Predators. Prepare to be annoyed this weekend. The Hawks won their first two meetings and Nashville won the next two. This will be the last time these teams play each other in the regular season. The Predators refuse to believe that their roster (on paper) blows and are nipping at the Hawks heels. At some point, you’d have to believe they’ll level out. Right? Um, right?
- Next Tuesday, they make their first trip into Dallas to take on the Stars. One bad decision by Brett Hull and the Stars went from being a Western Conference contender to being a fringe playoff team. Simply amazing. Dallas beat the Hawks in the United Center earlier this year when Cristobal Huet needed President Obama’s security staff to exit the arena after letting in one soft goal and a one-in-a-million bounce off the glass bounced off his leg and went in. Either way, the Stars are still fairly tough and Marty Turco once owned the Hawks when they sported a top line of Lapointe-Hamilton-Arkhipov. Or was it Barnaby-Brown-Arnason. Ah, I still long for those days.
- Then on New Year’s Eve, the Eastern Conference leading New Jersey Devils will come into town. You thought you didn’t have to hear about the trap until the next time the Hawks see Vancouver? Guess again. Neutral-zone trap Godfather Jacques Lemaire is back at the helm for New Jersey and that means plenty of muddled space. No need to fear, Joel Quenneville is internationally known as “The Trap Buster”.
So there ya go. After the Hawks play through this stretch, we probably won’t learn anything new about them, but it should still be a entertaining segment of their schedule.
–Sunday night’s game against the Red Wings brought WGN their highest Blackhawk ratings in over 20 years. The game brought in an incredible 4.1 household rating. The Hawks highest television ratings are still below that of the Bears, Cubs, and White Sox, but the gap is closing very quickly.
–If you hadn’t seen it already, the Eddie ‘O’ Talking Doll is back! I can’t get enough of the look on the Foley Doll’s face.