Game Time: 6:00
TV/Radio: WGN Ch. 9, WGN-AM 720
I Really Wish Joe Arpaio Would Have Been Brutally Murdered In Prison: Five For Howling
It’s once again time for another tearful montage as a returning Hawks player appears in the United Center in an opposing uniform for the first time, one of the underrated aspects of how this championship window has played out, somehow being actually heartwarming, nauseating, sad, and hilarious all at the same time. Tonight would have been that for the injured Niklas Hjalmarsson, and this is the thanks he would have received for the absolute pounding he took while wearing red on West Madison for years, as he returns with the dog-ass (GET IT?) Coyotes.
Make no mistake about it, the Coyotes suck out loud. And that’s kind of the point. There’s not much they do well, aside from having a middle of the road penalty kill. They’re at least playing most of their young players at forward, which includes possible Calder finalist Clayton Keller, who leads the Coyotes with 23 points in 32 games. Max Domi, Christian Dvorak, the prodigal Anthony DuClair, and even now finally Dylan Strome are all in the mix. None are really setting the world ablaze yet, but they’re at least getting the minutes in the top 3 lines to try to figure some shit out while Derek Stepan kills time as the defacto #1 center that he wasn’t on Broadway.
On defense things begin and end with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who is still somehow only 26. He and the perennially undervalued Jason Demers have formed a decent top pairing, flipping the ice at a 52% rate as they take on every team’s top assignments simply due to a lack of other options on the blue line. Alex Goligoski still continues to do the same things he always has from the second pairing, this time while shepherding the young Jakob Chychrun, whom the Coyotes are also high on. And Luke Schenn continues to lumber around the league, now on the third pairing in the desert.
Scott Wedgewood (yes, he is a real person) figures to get the crease tonight considering that old friend Antti Raanta got the call last night in Columbus. Wedgewood is currently sporting a .908 overall and a .911 at evens, so there are shots to be made against him for sure.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, Legitimate Top Pairing Defenseman Cody Franson will miss tonight with an upper body injury, so somehow that means Jordan Oesterle will play over Michal Kempny, who remains in Quenneville’s dog house. The fact that Q didn’t use this opportunity to put Connor Murphy in that role is slightly disappointing considering how well he has played recently, and also shows that long-term that spot with Keith is Franson’s to lose (which he will).
Even though it took to overtime on Friday night, the Hawks positively domed the Sabres in possession, which is what they were supposed to do, so the forward lines should remain the same. That means another game of Alex DeBrincat in the top six, so enjoy it while it lasts. Ryan Hartman continues to sit in favor of the recently promoted Vin Hinostroza, who at least got Sharp to move his feet along with him on Friday night. Corey Crawford probably wrongfully gets the call again tonight coming back from tweaking his crotch a couple weeks ago, but Anton Forsberg probably needed a breather anyway.
There is simply no excuse for not getting two points in regulation. None. Let’s go Hawks.
Game #30 Preview