Game Time: 9:00PM CST
TV/Radio: WGN Ch. 9 Local, NBCSN, WGN-AM 720
Naked In Front Of The Computer: Fear The Fin
Though only a week has passed since these two former Western Conference powers “clashed” at Club 1901, both will be looking slightly different having now gone through the trade deadline at opposite ends of the buyer/seller continuum.
For the Sharks, given their nebulous standing in the Pacific division where no one actually believes the conference leading Golden Knights are any kind of real threat, they found themselves as buyers at the tail end of a decade plus window that doesn’t seem to want to fully close. As such, they acquired the other Kane that was accused of sexual assault in Buffalo for nothing off the roster (2012 fifth round pick Daniel O’Regan), a conditional first in 2019, and a conditional fourth. For a 26 year old with 4 20+ goal seasons and two 19 goal seasons, that’s not a very steep price to pay considering what some other pieces went for at this deadline. But as always, the baggage comes with Kane. While his scoring numbers have been solid, they haven’t been befitting of the first round pedigree he comes from, nor the prototypical power forward build he boasts. And early in his career, the media hordes descended upon him basically for being brash and black, which was completely unfair, but last year’s investigation showed that he’s probably actually a bad guy too. And both things can be true- that Evander Kane is a scumbag, and that the hockey media will fight back hard against players of color who aren’t extra-humble even by hockey player standards. Even still, he immediately slots in on the Sharks’ top line with Lil Joe Pavelski, and opposite Joonas Donskoi. In their one game together against the similarly gutted Oilers team, the three threw out a 65 share, and this could result in some impressive forward depth once Jumbo returns.
Kane’s acquisition slots Timo Meier down to the third line while leaving the second of Hertl-Couture-Boeddker in tact, which could start to yield some serious bum slaying benefits for that unit, particularly if Kevin Labanc continues to impress. The once useful Eric Fehr now anchors the fourth line, and he’ll likely be trusted to win defensive zone draws and not do much more. Barclay Goodrow is the name of an actual person.
On the back end for the Sharks the song remains the same with Vlasic and Braun sent out there to merely absorb the other team’s top threat while Brent Burns runs around and does Brent Burns things. And for as wildly entertaining as Burns is to watch, he’d be even moreso if he knocked off the cloying bearded weirdo bullshit. You’re an adult and the father of multiple children, grow up you fucking yeti. Brendon Dillon still vacillates between being useful and being a complete turd depending on his partner (see Circus Bear Roman Polak), so guess which side of the ledger he’s on with Dylan Demelo. Martin Jones will be in net, and his stats this year are as bland as his name, appearance, and goaltending style with a .917 overall and a .919 at evens.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, it seems only befitting of this season that traded LOCAL GUYS Tommy Wingels and Ryan Hartman both scored meaningful goals in their debuts with their respective new teams, surely causing a certain sect of the fan base to set an effigy of Stan Bowman and then themselves on fire with cans of sterno meant for underneath pans of baked mastacioli. Their departures along with Lance Bouma’s long, long, LONG overdue demotion to Rockford have opened up some slots in the forward corps, notably by Matthew Highmore, who will make his NHL debut tonight on the fourth line. Highmore had 21 goals in 56 games in Winnebago County this season, his first out of junior after being undrafted. Unfortunately, however, one of those slots appears to be getting filled by the corpse of Patrick Sharp, who in all likelihood should probably announce his forthcoming retirement soon and at least get a deserved and fond farewell April 6th at the UC.
On the blue line things remain nonsensically the same, as keeping Connor Murphy with Brent Seabrook serves no purpose long term or short term other than protecting whatever is left of Porkins’ dignity. The team needs to find out if he is a viable partner for Duncan Keith to be able to take on top assignments, and then spend the off season finding a defenseman that can truly drive the play from the back end. Keeping him with Bottomless Pete does none of that. Our large beautiful Irish red-headed stepson has done all that’s been asked of him despite his coach keeping him in the doghouse for no reason, and has earned the right to see top assignments on a trial basis. It’s assumed that Anton Forsberg will once again be in net, however, J-F Berube looked solid against the Sharks last week, and looked very under control as a traditional butterfly goalie (from a French Canadian? SHOCKING), so it would not be a total surprise if he gets the nod tonight. And the Hawks might as well just come out and say that Corey Crawford is now officially shut down for the year, as bringing him back now ultimately does no one any good.
This is uncharted territory for this group so it will be an interesting watch to see if some of the veterans are completely checked out or not. There are some positives that can be gained from these remaining games, but everyone’s going to have to squint real hard to find them, and with the late start tonight, that might lead to just outright falling asleep. And if that happens, no one is going to be blamed for doing so.
Game #64 Preview