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Game #17 – Hawks vs. Flyers Preview – Life In The So-Called Space Age


Game Time: 12:00PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network, WGN-AM 720
The Gang Welshes On A Bet: Broad St. Hockey 

With the first game of the Jeremy Colliton Era under the Hawks’ belt in less than thilling fashion, the team leaves for the East Coast for a two-game Metro Division swing. The Hawks find a team in the Flyers who could probably use the recently departed Joel Quenneville’s services.

Of course, much like the situation here last year, there’s not a lot Quenneville (or anyone for that matter) could do about the Flyera goaltending situation, where once again of the three goalies that have seen action this year, none of them have a save-percentage north of .900.. Brian Elliott, still floundering outside of the shelter of a Ken Hitchcock-led lockdown system has seen the starter’s workload and has an .899 to show for it, though that’s slightly misleading. At even strength, Elliott sports a perfectly respectable .921 right in line with his career averages and is just about the bare minimum one should expect from a starter. However, the big red flag is his mark when shorthanded, having allowed 10 power play goals on 54 shots on net, good for an .815. Calvin Pickard and Michael Neuvirth behind Elliott haven’t done anything but soil themselves in the crease so far, so it appears that the Cold Ones are stuck with the aging and mediocre Elliott until further notice.

As far as the team in front of him is concerned, the Flyers still can’t quite seem to figure out what it is they’re doing. They have a solid group of forwards led by Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek who are both still better than a point per game, and Wayne Simmonds is still banging into shit face first. But all of those guys are around 30 years old, and the kids they have like Nolan Patrick and Travis Konecny haven’t taken the next step as they’ve hoped. James van Riemsdyk has been out since the third game of the season and practiced on Friday so he could very well draw back in, but even he’s 29 years old himself now. And the rest of this group is populated by guys like Dale Wiese and something called Jordan Weal that the scrapple-fed masses seem to enjoy.

On the blue line, things look a little brighter as far as development timelines go with both Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov still 25 and 21 respectively, however Dave Hakstol in his infinite brilliance has paired the two of them together for much of this year, and as a result they haven’t gotten to push the play when taking on top assignments, as both are below water in their possession rates. Fellow child Travis Sanheim has reaped the benefits of that however, clocking in a 55% share playing 16 minutes a night. Radko Gudas somehow also manages to keep in the other end for the most part, despite trying to decapitate someone nearly every shift.

As for the Men of Four Feathers, despite the unfavorable outcome on Thursday thanks to some poor rebound control and still abstract defensive positioning, things did look a bit more fluid in the offensive zone, and breakouts were incrementally more direct, though still stagnated far too much along the half wall and in the defensive corners. With Marcus Kruger ruled out for this game, that would seemingly force Coach Cool Youth Pastor to keep Nick Schmaltz in the middle as he did after Kruger left on Thursday. Thursday also saw the continued revitalization of Brandon Saad, which resulted in some shifts with Wide Dick and Garbage Dick once the lines got jumbled. With Friday’s practice being optional and the matinee start for today, the lines, pairings, and scratches could conceivably look like anything.

It’s a broken record, but it bears reiterating, that literally the only time the Blackhawks have won in Philadelphia since the Flyera played in the fucking Spectrum was Game 6 of 2010. Twenty-two years and one day ago, November 9th, 1996 is how far back it’s been since the Hawks won a regular season game in Philly. Alexandre Fortin, Alex Debrincat, and Henri Jokiharju were not even alive when that happened. So in all likelihood Jeremy Colliton’s first win in the NHL is probably going to have to wait. Let’s go Hawks.


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