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Un-Hully Alliance - April 9th, 2015

J-Mill gets to interview Jim Kress ahead of tonight's game against TFUN.

Another regular season is drawing to a close, and once again the Blues are facing the very possibility of losing the division title and slipping into a first round battle with TFUN, the Chicago Blackhawks. Tonight's game will go a long way in determining whether that happens yet again.

Throughout this season, we've previewed Blues-Hawks games with a mutual Q&A with my asshole ex-roommate Jim Kress, who covers the Hawks for City on the Take. Unfortunately, events and life got in the way to keep us from doing one for this past Sunday's Easter matchup, but we're back and better equally as good-or-bad as ever! Please check out City on the Take for my answers to Jim's questions, which should be up by the time this goes up but who knows, life's a mystery sometimes.

SLGT: Both the Blues & Blackhawks lost on Tuesday, but fortunately so did the Predators, meaning with two games left the Central looks like this:

STL 105 (40 ROW)

NSH 104 (41 ROW)

CHI 102 (39 ROW)

With that in mind, are the Hawks still focused on the division title, or is it entirely about getting home ice in round one?

CotT: I think there is a bit of competitive nature behind them trying to go after the title. But Richards is sitting the rest of the season, Kimmo might as well, they're playing rookies who've never played an NHL game before in the final 3 games of the season... I mean it seems pretty clear they don't care where they end up. Vermette and Q both said home ice isn't a big deal. I just hope to face off against the Preds in the first round. Currently everyone else has me a bit worried with a Kane-less Hawks team.

SLGT: We weren't able to get pieces done for Sunday's game, but it ended with the Blues earning their first regulation win at the United Center since February 3rd, 2010. Coach Q has even been quoted as saying that he thinks the team plays better on the road. Is The Madhouse still as mad as in years past, or are the Hawks more vulnerable at home than some might think?

CotT: Just like the players on the ice, I think the fans in the UC have gone a bit flat as well. But when a game is particularly important (like Sunday's game against the Blues) you can really hear the crowd much more into it. I'm not worried about playing on the road or the fans "not being into it". I'm mostly just worried about who we're playing.

SLGT: This is our first UHA since Patrick Kane went down with a collarbone injury. How has his loss changed the Hawks' attack? What's his status at the moment? If he misses the first two rounds like initially thought, can Chicago survive the Conference III playoffs?

CotT: There's no question that this Chicago team without Kane has changed their play. There are much less carry-in attempts by the team and an upward approach at dump and chase hockey (which absolutely does not work). Toews JUST passed Kane for points on the season this last week (shows how big of a run Kane was on) and the Hawks have been shut out 3 times since Kane went down.

I know Kane is incredibly important, but I think that the way this team plays, they COULD survive without him until the WCF. "Could" also doesn't imply that I think they will.

SLGT: These are also our first posts since the trade deadline. Has Antoine Vermette held his own in Chicago's forward group? Does Kimmo Timonen need a walker on the ice? What time does he eat dinner, 3:30 pm?

CotT: For whatever reason, Q has been playing Vermette at wing (a position he hasn't played since 2007). No one understands why either. Vermette has been fine when given the chance. But again, Q has been playing Versteeg and Shaw on the PP and PK instead of AV so it's not like he's been given a great chance. A few weeks ago Saad, AV and Teravainen were paired together and were wreaking havoc. Then Q decided to abandon that. No idea why.

Timonen has certainly been rusty, but has come around as of late. Anything to take away ice time from Rozsival makes me happy though.

SLGT: What Blackhawks are in the hunt for end of year awards? Is Jonathan Toews a Hart dark horse? Will Duncan Keith be a Norris finalist again? Andrew Shaw for Lady Byng? (Side note: has Shaw landed yet from his flying head-hunting of Barret Jackman on Sunday?)

CotT: Toews won't make it nearly close enough for the Hart. Kane was the only shot at that before he got injured.

There's no way Keith wins a Norris, he's been very not good this season.

I was personally hoping Shaw was doing us all a favor and just launching himself into the Sun. If there is ever something that this Blackhawk fan and any Blues fan could agree upon, it's that Andrew Shaw is a piece of garbage. If Ott and Shaw collide with each other, we're looking at a Hiroshima of sewage explosion.

SLGT: Finally, what are your predictions for tonight and Saturday? Who takes home the central division crown, and does it mean even a tiny bit of a shit? Will we be doing another one of these things this time next week?

CotT: I think the Blackhawks win, but in a SO, so it does nothing to help themselves out. I think Blues finish in 1st. Hopefully we aren't doing this next week because I really don't want the Blackhawks to face off against the Blues at all this year. They're honestly my biggest fear in the playoffs this year. Either they pull something together and beat the Hawks or they get so desperate for a Cup that they start taping shanks to the end of the their sticks and brutally murder the Hawks into submission.

Again, be sure to follow Jim Kress on twitter (@jimkressjr), and check out City on the Take to find out which cups that Cubs fans are pissing in this weekend.