RECORDS: Ducks 27-20-11 Hawks 24-25-8
PUCK DROP: 7:30
TV: NBCSN Chicago
NOT MISCHA BARTON: Anaheim Calling
It seems so long ago now that games between these teams really meant something. Really got the blood going. There was the one in 2013 in Anaheim that was between the two best winning percentages in like NHL history. Then another one a week later. There was the ’15 Conference Final, one of the weirdest and stressful series the Hawks ever played. It’s memories like that we’ll have to cling to even tighter now, to get through the last two months here. They’re going to seem a little foggier than they did.
Anyway, the Hawks are scheduled to show up to host the Ducks tonight. The Ducks still have things to play for, as due to the Pacific Division’s utter incompetence they haven’t been bounced from those playoff spots and they’re only three points behind the Wild for a wild card spot. Not that you’ve thought about the Ducks at all this season, and really nor should you.
For one, the Ducks have been beat up, and they weren’t all that interesting to begin with. Getzlaf, Perry (not sure if it still matters), Kase, Kesler, Fowler, Hampus! Hampus!, and Eaves have all missed significant time this year. They’ve barely had a full lineup at any point. At the moment only Eaves is still out, so this is as close as they’ve gotten.
But even that lineup isn’t really impressive, at least not at forward. Corey Perry is just an anal fissure now, as he can’t score or move. He’s basically a slow Burrows, except he’s so slow he can’t even get there to provide his normal bullshit. He won’t get suspended at any time because he’ll never be there in time to knee anyone. Ryan Getzlaf stopped caring about shooting or skating in between the circles at least four years ago, and that’s only gotten worse. Kesler is on one hip now and can’t really score to make it all count the way he used to, and he can barely get in range so you can hear whatever he’s yapping about. That basically leaves the Ducks without a #1 center or much of a #1 line. Rickard Rakell is making a fist of it but a good portion of his scoring comes on the man-advantage. Kase, Silfverberg, apple of Fifth Feather’s eye Cogliano, these are all useful players but they’re middle six players. Adam Henrique has threatened at being more since coming over from Jersey, and without him, boy who knows where they’d be? It’s hardly a shock that the Ducks are 24th in goals per game, and Randy Carlyle’s “hit that thing with that thing” method of opening up offense or any jar in his house isn’t helping.
It’s unfortunate, because there could be a pretty dynamic, young defensive group here. Hampus! Hampus! might be the most underrated player in the league. Brandon Montour has had a breakout season. Josh Manson has kept pace with Hampus! Hampus! Cam Fowler actually turned out to be what we always made fun of him for not being. But they’re weighed down by Kevin “Vacuous Maw” Bieksa and Francois “No I’m Not Dead I Always Look Like That” Beauchemin. And they aren’t given much license to get creative from their coach, to which a good dump-in is akin to a religion. Whenever the Ducks blow it up, if they decide to or even can, the blue line will be a nice building block.
They’ve been backed up most of the year by John Gibson, who’s just good enough to break your heart. He actually goes RFA this year which should make for some interesting viewing. Either way, the Ducks should be a desperate team tonight.
For the Hawks…I don’t even know any more. It looks like Erik Gustafsson will be the scratch tonight as Carl Dahlstrom has impressed enough to stick around. And that’s fine. Glass Jeff has been punted back to Rockford, and that’s fine. J.F. Berube is your new import, which tells you everything you need to know. Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma are on the top two lines as Stan hangs a “For Sale” sign out in the hopes of mid-round picks for both. To compensate for that Top Cat is on a fourth line with Hartman and Sharp, and we are left to look around and where we are and think about all our regrets and mistakes in our lives.
At this point, as we’ve said, it’s really just about pride. The Hawks really didn’t play badly in Vegas and were undone by a goalie who simply didn’t belong. Not really anyone’s fault on that. They at least looked like they wanted to be there. Should be an interesting atmosphere at the UC tonight. First off, probably won’t be more than three-quarters full, which will come as a shock to some. And it will be a crowd ready to groan, jeer, and boo at a moment’s notice. This is the old days, the bad days, the all-or-nothing days! They’re back, there’s no choices left.
Game #58 Preview