Everything Else

 @ 

Game Time: 12:00PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network, WGN-AM 720
The Gang Welshes On A Bet: Broad St. Hockey 

With the first game of the Jeremy Colliton Era under the Hawks’ belt in less than thilling fashion, the team leaves for the East Coast for a two-game Metro Division swing. The Hawks find a team in the Flyers who could probably use the recently departed Joel Quenneville’s services.

Everything Else

For the longest time under the stewardship of Bobby Clarke and Paul Holmgren, the Flyera simply threw good money after bad in always chasing the name brand free agents and trade targets in search of a Cup that has eluded the franchise since 1975. But under the leadership of notorious red-ass as a player Ron Hextall, the team has taken a much longer view and trying to actually build consistent winner from scratch. The results so far have been middling, but at least it’s been consistent in its vision. But this team’s psychopath fanbase isn’t going to be particularly patient with a non-linear progression. To conclude, the Flyers are a land of contrasts.

’17-’18: 42W-26L-14OT 98PTS 251GF 243GA 20.7%PP 75.8%PK 49.7%CF 7.83%SH .9245%SV

Goaltending: The same way that Bears fans wouldn’t know solid quarterbacking if it bit them in the nuts, there has been an institutional bungling of goaltending by the Philadelphia Flyers for generations. They even had a future multi-Vezina winning netminder in their system in Sergei Bobrovsky, but of course traded him for a big bag of bullshit to Columbus. Which brings things to the present day where the crease is entrusted to Brian Elliott and Michael Neuvirth, two “1B” goalies in their 30s who have wilted either under expanded workloads or not having lock-down systems in front of them. Things got so bad last year that the team acquired the completely broken Petr Mrazek and promptly let him walk at the end of the year. Elliott was the defacto #1 getting 42 starts and throwing up an unacceptable .909 overall with a slightly more respectable .926 at even, but an .812 on the PK which dragged things down. Special teams numbers can spike both ways for factors outside of a goalie’s control, but at 33, Elliott kind of is what he’s always been, which is certainly not a long term solution. Neuvirth had a similar disparity in his numbers (.915 overall, .934 evens, .810 PK), so it does speak to something systemic with the Flyer’s penalty kill. Either way, even if these two stay around this level and the PK picks things up, there’s not a lot here to make anyone a long term believer, particularly with Carter Hart waiting to assume the starter’s spot in Lehigh Valley should one or both piss their pants.

Defensemen: On the Flyera blue line, there are certainly some foundational pieces here in Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gosthisbere, but what their respective roles are going to be once this team intends on mattering again remains to be seen. While Ghost’s offensive and possession numbers are all impressive and what a puck mover should put up in the modern NHL, he’s still a bit of a turnstyle in his own end and will need some manner of protection in the form of a center-field type partner, optimized zone starts, or both. Provorov’s possession rate is basically directly at the team’s while playing much harder minutes all while still putting up 40 points from the back end. And with the likes of likely future war criminal Radko Gudas and the perpetually hurt or bad or both Andrew MacDonald complimenting these two young defensemen, it does not appear that there are any long term solutions currently in the organization, and leading to an unbalanced group.

Forwards: Claude Giroux had 102 points last year and Jakub Voracek had 85, and absolutely no one gave a shit. Moving Sean Coutourier and his two way abilities to the #1 center role and in turn moving Giroux to freestyle a little more on the wing certainly had everyone reaping the rewards, as Coots himself had 76 points along with devouring the souls of whatever center he drew as an assignment on a nightly basis. But doing so drastically altered the Flyers’ center depth to the point where they actually had to rely on any kind of contributions from the now departed Valteri Filppula and Finnish punchline Jori Lehtera down the middle. They haven’t done much to address the issue over the off season, as bringing back prodigal son James van Riemsdyk certainly gives them another rugged set of hands on the wing along with Meat Train Wayne Simmonds, so it will be necessary for Travis Konecny to take the next step and spend more time in the middle.

Outlook: Much like the Devils across the River, the Cold Ones probably did themselves more harm than good by making the playoffs last year only to promptly go home, as they would have been better served getting into the lottery. But with their top point-getters all right around 30, another development year might not have been the best route either. So Ron might have to get a little spicy and trade some franchise cornerstones to restock the system and fully start over should things sputter a bit, because the development arcs of their kids and the aging curves of their vets don’t sync up.

 

Previous Team Previews

Detroit Red Wings

Buffalo Sabres

Boston Bruins

Florida Panthers

Montreal Canadiens

Ottawa Senators

Tampa Bay Lightning

Toronto Maple Leafs

Carolina Hurricanes

Columbus Blue Jackets

New Jersey Devils

New York Islanders

New York Rangers

Everything Else

And so now we move west, young men and women to the hellhole that is known as the Pacific Division. Once the place where Vancouver collected 100 points by merely having a pulse, the division has seen a bit of a makeover since realignment. The Kings, Ducks and Sharks have all taken turns setting the coast on fire while Canada weeps. Where does this year leave us? Follow the jump, suckas.

Everything Else

Hawk Wrestler vs. old_school_blue_l

PUCK DROP: 7:30pm

TV: NBCSN, CSN, CBC In Da Great What Nort’ 

PALLBEARERS: St. Louis Gametime

Well now we’re gonna see if #ThisTimeWillBeDifferent, aren’t we?

There’s so much riding on this game tonight for St. Louis I kind of want to hurl in delight. If they lose, their coach will assuredly be fired, playing staff will be changed. We can look for CAPTAIN! to have a new address next year (probably going to happen anyway). Kirk ShattenKevin will almost assuredly go on the trade block again. The great goalie search of St. Louis could kick up into hyper drive again, or they’ll try for the 87th time to give the job to Jay Gallon and he’ll watch it go right by him.

If they win, then they’ll have slain their biggest demon, overcome a major mental hurdle, and be looking at a matchup with a Dallas team that probably won’t have its top center and is trying to play with no goalies and a defense that uses the youth soccer tactic of just chasing the puck in packs. There might be some validation for this Blues core with a win tonight. With a loss, it gets broken up.

For the Hawks… eh, if they don’t win they’ll have been a flawed, tired team that still has three banners in seven years with a core intact that is always in position to make a run for more. Win tonight, and they’ll have broken a main rival for nearly just the sheer joy of it. Who’s got more pressure y’think?

Everything Else

Box Score

Event Summary

War On Ice

Like this wrap was ever going to come last night.

Normally, you’d come here for some shrewd analysis and a couple insults/jokes about the game. Today I don’t feel like that. Feels like something a little more emotional is needed. For most of the season, I’ve been accused of being overly negative, much too extreme. And you know, that’s basically correct. While I think it is our job to poke holes in common narratives (for instance, the utter hokum that was “Dark Horse Norris Candidate) there have been times where I’ve been sour just for the sake of it. As most of you know, this season hasn’t been all that much fun for any of us here. Whether you agree with that or not, I think we’ve illustrated pretty clearly why so you could understand. The Hawks have made themselves a hard organization to root for, and those complaints and feelings are still very much present. I’ve let that boil over at times, and I know that. I’ve openly rooted for opponents or made it clear I didn’t care if the season ended on Thursday or last night. That’s over the top.

And then games like last night happen, and you are thoroughly reminded why you bothered in the first place.

Everything Else

bluestrumpet_jersey vs evil empire

Game Time: 2:00PM Central
TV/Radio: NBC, TVA-S, SportsNet, WGN-AM 720
Holidae In: St. Louis Game Time

After having the tide of the series flip on a dime on two controversial goal calls (and one not at all controversial slashing call), the Blues are now afforded with an opportunity to show the hockey world that their continual, perennial faith in them is justified. To show them, yes indeed, this time it will be different.

Everything Else

evil empire at imos blues

Game Time: 8:30PM CDT
TV/Radio: CSN, NBCSN, SportsNet360, TVA-S, WGN-AM 720
If A Urinal Cake Were A Town: St. Louis GameTime

As far as inevitabilities go, the Hawks and Blues meeting in the first round of the playoffs this year is right up there with death, taxes, and David Haugh writing something profoundly ignorant, stupid, and damaging. And with this series, all of the old war horses once again will be trotted out, from the Hawks “turning it on” and hockey followers everywhere from local to national believing beyond a shadow of a doubt that this time it will be different for the Blues.

Everything Else

And so it begins anew, and the braintrust of the NHL gets what they ultimately want again with the divisional playoff format with a perennial occurence of legacy NHL rivalries along with an effort to fabricate new ones. The Hawks and Blues will meet in the first round for the second time in three years, with the Blues once again having home ice advantage thanks to their usual solid regular season. But even the florid, toothless cretins along the river are beginning to realize that that type of success and $2.50 gets one on the bus.

Because everything the Blues does is predicated on the prevention of quality chances against, it’s appropriate to take a look at their back end of the blue line and their goalies first.

Everything Else

bluestrumpet_jersey vs evil empire

Game Time: 7:30PM
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Toasted Ravs, Man: SLGT

Tonight’s game between the Hawks and Blues is being labeled a playoff preview by all of the flapping heads around the league, and in one sense, that’s not accurate at all given the number of injuries on both sides that will surely answer the bell this time next week, as well as the fact that this first round matchup is anything but a foregone conclusion. And in that respect tonight already is a playoff game unto itself. Should the Blues gain a single point, they will clinch some form of home ice and the Hawks will be locked into third in the Central. However a Hawks regulation win still keeps them in position for home ice if not the division, depending on the outcome of Stars/Avs. The Hawks would still need some help from the Preds and/or Capitals on Saturday, but they still have to close out their regular season home schedule properly tonight to give themselves a chance.