RECORDS: Canucks 22-19-6 Hawks 29-14-5
PUCK DROP: 6:30pm
TV: WGN down here, SportsNet up there for Hilljack Hockey
ADJUSTED TEAM CORSI %: Canucks – 47.5 (24th) Hawks – 50.0 (16th)
ADJUSTED TEAM xGF%: Canucks – 46.4 (28th) Hawks – 47.5 (26th)
POWER PLAY %: Canucks – 13.2 (29th) Hawks – 18.1 (16th)
PENALTY KILL %: Canucks – 79.7 (23rd) Hawks – 75.6 (28th)
The Hawks will entertain the Canucks tonight, a half-hour later than normal for a Sunday because it features on SportsNet’s hilariously weird “Hometown Hockey.” For the uninitiated, every Sunday Rogers sends Tara Slone–who must’ve run over someone’s cat/child to be punished in such a way–out to some Canadian outpost/backwater/truck stop/hobo circle jerk where she gets stared at by a bunch of glassy-eyed, slack-jawed locals who are only slightly intimidated by all the blinking lights of the camera. There they talk about how much they love hockey, shocking for a Canadian city I know, while the children have to wear their gear for four hours and wave to the camera when told, which turns out to be a real task for them, because y’know, CANADIAN. Ron MacLean joins the fun to interview some doddering old codger who barely knows where he is because he spent 10 years toiling for the fucking Golden Seals or something and getting beaten about the head. But he’s from whatever ice-fishing hut they’re broadcasting from, so he has talk about how much they love hockey in this particular section of frozen hell. It’s really something.
Meanwhile, George Stroumboulopoulos kicks it at home with his awesome socks and thanks his lucky stars he doesn’t have to put up with any of this shit anymore.
What the Hawks see across from the ice has to be one of the bigger mysteries in the league, even to their own fans and front office. The Canucks suck. I mean, they’re bad. They have things on their bottom six that sound like weird gunk your body excretes while you’re asleep. Megna? Gaunce? Chaput? There isn’t anything I can point to that they do well. They suck in possession. They suck in scoring. They suck defensively. And yet they’re loitering (perhaps literally) around the Pacific and wild card playoff spots, mostly because the rest of their division is so helpless they haven’t been able to shake this ragtag out fit by tossing a rubber ball into traffic or something.
I guess Ryan Miller was ok there for a minute? He had a strong October and is having a strong January, but in the middle there he was eight shades of piss poor. The Sedins are hardly what they used to be, but luckily Loui Eriksson got rich first and didn’t have to depend on them to do so like so many other wayward bums have over the years (hi there, Alex Burrows!). The blue line emits an odor not unlike what comes from deep in a kitchen sink.
But because they’re close to the playoffs, and because this organization has no idea what it’s doing, they’re probably going to buy at the deadline. They absolutely refuse to rebuild, even though they have no chance of doing anything and have next to nothing in the pipeline. When you’re talking yourself into Bo Horvat being a future star, you need a fucking intervention. This team is so balloon-handed that it somehow let Calgary and Edmonton zoom past it, and it’s not like either of those teams is run by MENSA members.
If you haven’t watched the Canucks this year, and you shouldn’t, their one game against the Hawks tells you everything you need to know. They can skate really hard and grunt and their way to a semblance of competence, but any team worth anything only needs to put forth 10-15 minutes of anything close to A-effort to blow them out of the fucking water. So it goes tonight.
For the Hawks, Crawford will return to the net after getting something of a breather against the Bruins. He certainly needed it, as he’s had a dip here of late. You can’t ask for a curveball to hang much more than a night with the Canucks, and hopefully this can get him back on track. If it doesn’t, you can bet your ass LOCAL GUY will get more starts, and Q might get a full-blown controversy on his hands, which he seems to crave at points if only to keep himself entertained. The rest of the lineup should look the same.
The Hawks have it pretty cushy into the break here. The Canucks, the Lightning who can’t seem to get out of their own way, and the middling Jets whom the Hawks can seemingly never beat. Could get on a roll here.