RECORDS: Hawks 36-33-12 Predators 46-29-6
PUCK DROP: 7pm
TV: NBCSN Chicago
THIRD MAN INTERNS: On The Forecheck
When the music’s over, turn out the lights…
The Hawks wrap it all up on 2018-2019 tonight, and as mentioned earlier, it doesn’t come with the relief of last year. This team doesn’t deserve any more than it’s got, and the front office certainly doesn’t, but it sure does seem like the Hawks wasted more than most teams than miss the playoffs did.
And now in most ways, this is the worst possible outcome. They didn’t make the playoffs, and they’re nowhere near the top of the draft to get a franchise-turning player. Drafting 11th is really not going to do anyone any good, at least not for next year. It’s the middle. It’s the muck. It’s purgatory.
We’ve already been over what the storylines were yesterday. It’s some’s definite last game with the Hawks. It might be some more important players’ last as well. Do they know it? Do they care? Won’t get our answers for a while. Last night it looked like they did. Quotes before and after the game suggest they do, but their actions on the ice all season tell a different story.
So for the Hawks, it’s just about crossing the last one off the calendar. For the Preds, there’s way more riding on it. They can clinch the division tonight with any kind of win. A loss in extra-time would do the job if neither the Jets or Blues win. If both the latter lose in regulation, the Preds don’t have to do shit.
Which means the Preds could play any one of the Jets, Blues, Stars, or Avs in the first round. The first two are probably ickier first-round matchups than you’d want if you plan on being a Cup contender. But then again to complain about playoff matchups makes you a member of the Toronto media. There really isn’t an easy way out of the West, because there isn’t really a standout team.
The Preds also have some form to find. They’ve won four of five, and seven of their last nine, but that was after a month or more of being no more than so-so. Pekka Rinne found form again, going bonkers in March after spending the middle portion of the season making the winds in Tennessee whisper, “Saros.” They still don’t have much of a second-line, but the top unit of Arvidsson-Treat Boy-Forsberg have done enough lifting. Maybe Granlund finds it in the playoffs. First time for everything and all that. Kyle Turris doesn’t appear to be much more than a passenger with a bewildered look on his face.
The Preds would also do well to figure out the power play, which has looked all season like the Hawks’ did for the first third of the season. You’d think with that firepower on the blue line you could accident a power play, but this seems to be Predators tradition.
You sort of wonder what the Preds will do if they run up against a really defensively stout team like St. Louis or Dallas. Maybe their three or four trap-busters are enough to grind out four 2-1 wins. Or maybe their lack of depth scoring really comes to the fore if a team is able to snuff out the top line. The Preds will get their answers soon enough.
One more game, and then assuredly what will be a pretty hilarious press conference Monday when McDonough and Bowman try and walk back everything they said before and during the season in order to not have to fire Bowman. It’ll probably be way more entertaining than this one.
Game #82 Preview Suite