Hockey

It seems fitting that the Hawks would get a double dose of the Avalanche this week after the city received it’s first real snowfall of the year and season on essentially back to back days. And after for the most part not really having any kind of answer for the solidly middle ground Minnesota Wild for over the weekend, this week certainly doesn’t bode well. There hasn’t really been a particularly good time for the Hawks to face the Avs over the past few seasons, but right now seems particularly bad given how things have been going in Denver for a while now.

1/24 – at Colorado

Game Time – 8:00PM CST
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago+, WGN-AM 720
Frontier Psychiatrist – Mile High Hockey

When last the Hawks saw the Avs, Cale Makar was putting Kirby Dach in a covid-infested blender before burying an OT winner on his backhand from an angle few would even attempt let alone roof and water bottle. Since then the Avs have gone 9-0-1, and are 17-2-2 since the beginning of December. This run has caused them to ascend to their rightful place atop the Central and the Western Conference, and has them only two points behind Tampa and the Cats for the best record in the league, and they have games in hand on both. They’re tops in the league in scoring at 4.15 goals per game, and second in goal differential, only one behind Florida with the aforementioned games in hand. They have five players averaging over a point a game, including the prohibitive favorite for Norris in Makar. And they’ve been doing it all with a 53 share, so this isn’t exactly a fluke- nor was it ever constructed any other way. Darcy Keumper has been fine with a .913, which is more than serviceable with an offense like this. Quite simply, keeping a game competitive and not getting embarrassed right now is really all that can be asked of this Hawks team, and even that feels like kind of a reach.

1/26 – at Detroit

Game Time – 6:30PM CST
TV/Radio – TNT, WGN-AM 720
Pointes High Class of ’87 ReunionWinging It

Right now, delusional Red Wings weirdos will tell anyone who will listen that this team is ahead of schedule and they’re better than they have any right to be and they’re FUN and they’re just outside of a wild card spot. And while some of that is partially true – Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider have been the first real Wings prospects to actually jump to the show and make an impact since now-captain Dylan Larkin SEVEN years ago, the reality of the situation is that while yes, there is no one between them and the last wild card spot, there are 8 points between them and the Bruins, and 11 between the next closest team in the Leafs, with each of them having four games in hand. They also have a goal differential of -26 with Alex Nedjelkovic having a wholly respectable .926 at evens in 30 appearances. So while there are some bright spots here, there is nowhere near enough offense on this roster as presently constituted. That being said, the offense here is still getting more than the Hawks are currently (2.67 goals per game to 2.34) while having a particularly dire power play at 14.8% where only the Coyotes and Habs are worse. This game will be on TNT for obvious television market reasons, but certainly not for the quality of play. Neither of these two teams are even wacky-bad anymore, it’s just boring low event hockey from both sides as that’s the only way either can hang on for dear life against better competition. But who knows, maybe these two sub-mediocre teams may produce an entertaining spectacle on the national broadcast out of being so evenly matched. Don’t count on it however.

1/28 – vs Avalanche

Game Time – 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Summit County Mountain Retreats – Mile High Hockey

Same as above but at Club 1901 this time. The Avs host Boston on Wednesday, which is the headliner late game on TNT after the Hawks/Wings opening act. And oh yeah, the Avs have won 15 straight at Pepsi Ball Bag Arena or whatever.

Hockey

Well it’s been a while since there have been games for the Hawks that have needed to be covered, two full weeks in fact since they last played in Dallas, wherein they earned point in overtime after falling behind very early, thanks in large part to a hit from Brett Connolly on Hawk Legend Tanner Kero that landed Connolly four games on top of getting 5 and the gate. Since then it has been a whirlwind of cancellations and changes in protocols across all sports and real life as Omicron burns through the unvaccinated countryside. It even led the NHL to pull out of the Olympics in China in February, and while a few players wet their pants over it, it’s probably the right move given China’s far stricter covid measures and the number of games that are going to need to be rescheduled during that break. In any event, the Hawks are back at it tomorrow afternoon while everyone rehydrates, as the Winter Classic is now smartly placed in prime time in Minnesota. Whether any of these games actually take place remains to be seen.

1/1 – at Nashville

Game Time  – 1:00 PM CST
TV/Radio – 
NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
David Poile Has Always Been A Scumbag – On The Forecheck

In the penultimate game before the pause, the Nashville Predators were already pretty well besieged by covid and still manage to rub the Hawks’ ass in moonshine pretty much the entire game on the shot and possession ledger, with the Hawks only getting a point thanks to Marc Andre Fleury’s necessary acrobatics. And while the Hawks by and large have stayed clear of the covid fray, Flower still has yet to test out of it, and it’s unlikely he’ll be available for the New Year’s Day matinee. The Preds have already played two games since the restart after Christmas, losing in regulation in Washington, which happens, and then losing in a shootout to Columbus, which probably shouldn’t happen to a serious team. Though having Roman Josi out in protocols certainly isn’t helping their cause, as he’s their leading scorer (again) from the back end with 29 points. Colton Sissons is also currently out, but that could all change at a moment’s notice. As is going to be the case for probably the next two or three weeks, these games are still going to be completely slapdick in terms of roster availability and how that affects outcomes.

1/2 – vs Calgary

Game Time – 7:00PM CST
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, SportsNet, WGN-AM 720
Dangerous Minds – ScorchStack

The Hawks had better hope Flower passes his PCRs or whatever soon, otherwise they’ll turn their lonely gaze towards Swedish child Arvid Soderblom to take the second half of the back to back and make his NHL debut, instead of Colin Delia whose ass is likely going to be stuck in the drive through at Beef A Roo for the rest of his life. Soderblom has a .915 in nine games for the Piggies, so it’s fair that he at least gets a look so the Hawks know if they have anything before they inevitably have to ask MAF where he’d like to be traded. Being listed at 6’2″, 188 lbs is probably generous for this taut pre-teen Swedish boy, as his draft mugshot last year made the rounds last year to a chorus of “christ almighty”. The Flames won their first game back last night in Seattle, and are avoiding a stopover in Winnipeg (hooray) prior to coming here. They’re mostly healthy right now, and dong whipped the Hawks at the Saddledome in November, so this could be TRIAL BY FIRE (GET IT) for young Arvid.

1/4 – vs Colorado

Game Time – 7:30PM
TV/Radio – ESPN+/Hulu (bullshit), WGN-AM 720
Loud Pack – Mile High Hockey

The Avs clearly aren’t where they would like to be standings-wise right now. They had a ton of nagging injuries even before this latest bout with pestilence gripped the league, though at the moment it appears that they don’t have anyone in protocol. However Bowen Byram, who was supposed to announce his presence to the league this year has yet to do so consistently, and is currently on IR. But regardless of what the Wild might be doing in the division at the moment, it’s still all about the spring for the Avs, as they still have the firepower to come out of the Western Conference if not win the whole fucking thing, and have yet to get past the second round since their proverbial window has opened. Though it seems like nine years ago already, the Avs absolutely embarrassed the Hawks and the previous regime on national television on opening night for TNT’s first broadcast, so it will be an interesting measuring post to see if even the slightest bit of structure and home ice can keep this game competitive for even 40 minutes.

 

Happy New Year Everyone.

Hockey

As was stated a couple of weeks ago, it’s going to be a different approach this season with regards to previews and wraps, in part due to logistics and in part due to this franchise exhausting all but the last quark of patience around here both on and off the ice. Whille dodging and mishandling their most recent sex scandal, the Hawks decided to revamp their roster and double down on their idiot himbo coach, because apparently Duncan Keith wasn’t big enough or fast enough to run his SYSTEM, and he’s never had an NHL caliber roster before in four Magic Training Camps. Enter the reluctantly vaccinated Jones Brothers and Marc-Andre Fleury, along with Jonathan Toews’ return from Havana Syndrome or whatever, and the Hawks are primed to miss out on the playoffs yet again while the hemorrhage chances and pray Fleury puts up the Vezina numbers he did under a coach who actually works to supress shots in Peter DeBoer in Vegas. Time to get FIRED UP.

 

10/13 At Colorado

Game Time: 9:00PM CST
TV/Radio: TNT, WGN-AM 720
Epic Day Pass: Mile High Hockey

The big news out of Denver is that perennial Hart candidate and complete dietary psychopath Nathan MacKinnon will miss tonight and at least a couple other games in Covid protocol after testing positive yesterday. With the league’s claims of a 98% vaccination rate it seems like it’s just a temporary thing and that he’s asymptomatic, but given the reports in the NFL of faked vaccine documentation and Evander Kane’s most recent investigation being for trying to procure one, that percentage seems dubious. Even without MacKinnon, and Brandon Saad leaving for St. Louis, there’s still more than enough firepower to tear this Hawks defensive zone limb from limb. Philipp Grubauer has gone to Seattle, with Darcy Keumper now entrusted to backstop a team with actual aspirations instead of succeeding in obscurity in the Arizona, what’s left of the Kings, and whatever Minnesota was attempting for years. His counterpart in Fleury is going to have to be at the absolute top of his game, particularly on the PK, considering the Hawks just flat out forgot to work on it during the preseason.

10/15 At New Jersey


Game Time: 6:00PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network, TVA-S, WGN-AM 720
The Many Saints of Newark: All About The Jersey

From a mile above sea level to below it in the Meadowlands, the Hawks jump two time zones in well less than 48 hours to play the Devils and see their new toy in Dougie Hamilton, the second biggest blue line acquisition this off season behind the Hawks and Jones. What Dougie brings to this team that gets them out of their transitional phase is anyone’s guess, as it’s all going to hinge on Jack Hughes taking the leap to being the #1 overall franchise defining pick he was supposed to be. Their other big acquisitions were Tomas Tatar now plaining for his 78th team in 5 years and Jonathan Bernier being given the 1A job for reasons. Apparently Tyler Dellow likes players from bad Wings teams over the past 8 years. Given that this is the front end of a back to back, it would not be surprising to see Lankinen start.

10/16 At Pittsburgh


Game Time: 6:00PM
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network, WGN-AM 720
The Chilliest of Willies: PensBurgh

So the Pens had the “honor” of being the visitors on hand for the banner raising ceremony in Tampa, their second this calendar year, which is truly a weird feat. And as is often the case, the Bolts weren’t exactly fully engaged given the delayed start and all the pomp and circumstance it entails (if anyone remembers those sorts of things around here anymore). Even without Sid and Geno for quite a bit, the Penguins jumped out to a 3-0 lead and then things started getting wacky with empty netters in the final minutes to make things 6-3 when all was said and done. And despite the ESPN broadcast’s best attempts to turn him into a conquering hero, and no matter how tough his struggle against leukemia was or how nice a guy he might be, Brian Boyle is a 36 year old obelisk who in no way shape or form comes close in his wettest dreams to providing what even mid 30s Sid and Geno do. Same for Jeff Carter, who despite having 2 rings and was a key member of another finalist might be getting into Who Gives A Shit territory now as well. Tristan Jarry is still who the hopes and dreams in net are pinned on despite all evidence stating that that is folly, and this era might finally be coming to a close in western PA. But this is still a well coached team capable of playing hard and exploiting mistakes even when outgunned as they proved last night. And even if the Hawks will have more firepower on paper than the Pens, it’s not nearly as much as the Bolts have, and they were able to do so on the road without the benefit of matchups. Look for Flower to get this game given his history in the building.

Hockey

@  

Game Time: 8:00PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago+, WGN-AM 720
Alpenglow Botanicals: Mile High Hockey

For the second time in a month, the Hawks and Avalanche will be playing one another for the second time in a week. And for the second time in a month, the Hawks will be looking to avoid getting blanked in earning any kind of points in the standings whatsoever. Maybe this time it will be different.

Everything Else

 at 

Game Time: 8:00PM CDT
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Edible Arrangements: Mile High Hockey

At the beginning of the season, most observers would have marked this game as being between one team who is scrapping to maintain a wildcard spot and another who is getting a look at some kids in a season that has been in the shitter since the end of January due to shoddy goaltending, and they would still be correct. Cue Twlight Zone music (or is Black Mirror the more appropriate reference?) .

Everything Else

 vs 

Game Time: 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Semyon Varlamov Is A Fucking Piece of Shit: Mile High Hockey

In what now feels like their third cycle of the last decade, the visiting Colorado Avalanche are rebuilding, this time at least under the tutelage of an actual adult in Jared Bednar. But the more things change, the more things stay the same in Denver, and the Avs find themselves once agian in the league’s basement.

Everything Else

evil empire at simpsons avalanche rocket house

Game Time: 8:00PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Summit County Mountain Retreats: Mile High Hockey

Now that the league and all of its fans are done treating a 6’8″, 265 lb., 33 year old man with a mechanical engineering degree that he can’t wait to remind everyone he has and has punched people in the face for a living for going on the last decade (and has conservatively made $4.25 million dollars doing so) as they would a Make-A-Wish Foundation child, the games that matter can now resume. But because of more fun with the NHL rule book the Hawks are now without Jonathan Toews tonight because he had the good fortune to be sick and not have to show up for the farce in Nashville.

Everything Else

Avalanche Snowman Christmas vs evil empire

Game Time: 7:30PM
TV/Radio: CSN, NBCSN, WGN-AM 720
Rocky Mountain Oysters: Mile High Hockey

While the Hawks’ schedule at first blush would indicate an opportunity to get right over the next couple weeks while facing teams behind them in the standings, things don’t always end up playing out that way. Especially against the Avalanche who visit tonight, who continually have given the Hawks problems over the better part of this decade.