As this death march of a season mercifully draws ever closer, the Hawks find themselves out for one last swing through the West in order to play two completely meaningless games bookending a game that really only serves schadenfraude purposes.
At last the long national nightmare is over. Coach Kelvin Gemstone/Vinny Del Colliton/Jeremy Bevington/Jeremy Trestman/Alpo Colliton/Jeremy Prinze, Jr./Cool Youth Pastor and his throbbing brain filled with defensive schemes so elaborate he forgets to even bother thinking about in game deployment are gone. It was about 18 months overdue, but the important thing is that it’s over, and with all of the other shit that happened two weeks ago in a cleansing fire, there’s actually finally a new prism to view this team through rather than utter nihilism. Interim GM Kyle Davidson was as forthcoming as anyone with an interim label could possibly be in his remarks after Colliton’s dismissal, saying that the message simply wasn’t getting through and correctable things weren’t being corrected, both of which are tremendous understatements but accurate nonetheless. Basically it only took him a week and a half of watching this disorganized and disinterested horse shit to see enough to get Stan’s golden child the hell up out of here and bring in Pigs bench boss Derek King.
King’s coaching resume is limited but had a pretty lengthy NHL career in the mid 80s and 90s (plenty will remember him being not a bum on Sega), but he at least had enough common damn sense to understand to tell these guys to just go out and play and not worry about adhering to some galaxy brained man-on-man high pressure SYSTEM. It’s well worn territory here, but the dirty secret in hockey is that it’s not exactly like they need to run elaborate blitz packages and disguise coverages on defenses in hockey. Puck side defenseman pursues and goes into the corner, weak side stays in front of the net, wingers on points, help if it comes up the wall, and ass on the boards at the hash for a breakout pass. This is what everyone who’s played hockey for any length of time just instinctively knows in their bone marrow and is what is just a default even when at an 11:45 on a Tuesday night rat hockey. Which is why having the D chase and stay with their checks everywhere in the zone was so counter-intuitive and the results clearly bore that out. Furthermore, in his post game comments, King remarked that he wanted to prioritize matching up Carpenter against Sissons on Sunday, and also had Erik Gustafsson barely play at all. So while he might end up ultimately proving himself A Moron, he’s at least got a baseline of common hockey sense that seemed to so elude his handsome predecessor, and all of the sudden the Hawks find themselves with actual winnable games on the docket.
11/9 vs Pittsburgh
Game Time – 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, TVA-S, WGN-AM 720
Ben Roethlisberger Retire Bitch – Pensburgh
So after missing the first 7 games of the season with a wrist injury, Sidney Crosby came back for one game against the POWERHOUSE New Jersey Devils, was a -3 with no points, and promptly returned to Sick Bay with a mildly symptomatic case of Covid. With him being out and Evgeni Malkin out for a few more months still, things have gone about as well as could be expected with this last-gasp Penguins group, which is to say it’s barely .500-ish with a 4-3-3 record in 10 games, which is good for 11 points and the ass-end of the Metro division. When Danton Heinen is leading the team in goals and points at any juncture of a season, it’s probably safe to say that things aren’t particularly optimal. Most recently the Pens to the first place Wild (huh?) to a shootout on the road and ultimately ended up losing the Hog Shit Snarfing Contest, but Mike Sullivan still has the team playing relatively hard even if they’re pretty outgunned most nights without their franchise pillars. Tristan Jarry has at least been pulling his weight in a starter’s workload even after every Yinzer wanted to toss him into a variety of rivers last spring, with a .945 save percentage 5v5 and .925 overall. This is a team that has to play with structure and discipline because it can’t get away with skill right now, and one game with Derek King isn’t magically going to have the Hawks be able to counter that, even if on paper the Hawks’ current lineup does have more spice than the Penguins right now.
11/12 vs Arizona
Game Time – 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio – ESPN+, Hulu, WGN-AM 720
Kyrsten Sinema Is A Goblin: Five For Howling
The Coyotes are the only team in the league worse than the Hawks right now, and really it could be argued that they shouldn’t even count because not only are they willfully trying to be bad on the ice, but the entire franchise is basically a money laundering front/shell corporation for the league right now, and they’re going to get evicted out of their building at the end of the season anyway. It’s tough to say whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that this game is an online exclusive- on one hand if this was a game ESPN/Hulu earmarked as being a selling point for the platform and ad dollars, they were catastrophically mistaken. On the other hand, it’s almost a public service that no one can accidentally find their way to this imminent disaster, one would have to be a true sicko to go out of their way to find and watch this game. But it will at least be the first time it’s been Hawks red vs white Kachina in like 15 years.
Game Time: 6:00PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
We Didn’t Come Here To Rock: Five For Howling
Having just pulled off a minor miracle of taking four of four points on a mini two-game road trip, including a win against arguably the best team in the league, the Hawks now return to West Madison to face the surprisingly competent Arizona Coyotes, who are completing a four game road trip in the Eastern and Central time zones.
Game Time: 6:00
TV/Radio: WGN Ch. 9, WGN-AM 720
I Really Wish Joe Arpaio Would Have Been Brutally Murdered In Prison: Five For Howling
It’s once again time for another tearful montage as a returning Hawks player appears in the United Center in an opposing uniform for the first time, one of the underrated aspects of how this championship window has played out, somehow being actually heartwarming, nauseating, sad, and hilarious all at the same time. Tonight would have been that for the injured Niklas Hjalmarsson, and this is the thanks he would have received for the absolute pounding he took while wearing red on West Madison for years, as he returns with the dog-ass (GET IT?) Coyotes.
Game Time: 7:30PM
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Joe Arpaio Should Die In Prison: Five For Howling
If it feels like forever since the Hawks had a traditional 7:30 start at home at the UC, it kind of has, as it’s been nearly a month since they had one. It was a riveting affair, as they always are, against the Winnipeg Jets on January 26th, and tonight figures to be just as rollicking against the the league’s second worst team in the visiting Arizona Phoenix Glendale Coyotes/Quebec Nordiques/Seattle Metropolitans.
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.
Game Time: 7:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
I Hope Joe Arpaio Is Tortured To Death: Five For Howling
It took until game 80 on April 5th for the schedule to finally roll around to a game of actual consequence that the Blackhawks on paper should give a shit about. Sitting at 99 points with three games to play, they can max out at 105, which is the current total for both the Stars and Blues. If the Hawks win tonight as they should, and can beat the Blues on Thursday, that at least puts home ice still seriously on the table on Saturday, as the Blues face the Caps in the closer, and the Hawks would hold the definitive edge in ROWs. There’s still barely a chance at the division as well, but on top of needing help from the Caps, the Stars get what could be an already eliminated Avs team on Thursday and then a locked-into-seventh Preds club for the finale. But failure to accumulate all six of the remaining points available makes all of this moot, and it begins tonight at home against the Coyotes.
Game Time: 9:00PM Central
TV/Radio: WGN, WGN-AM 720
Sherrif Joe Arpaio Is A Fucking Piece of Shit: Five For Howling
If nothing else, the schedule has lined up for the Hawks to get themselves back into a position to grab home ice in the first round during this final kick of the season should the decide to give a shit. With the post deadline Coyotes in full tank mode now having sold of nearly all of their useful parts, tonight should be an exercise in that. SHOULD BE.
Bring out the tired old tropes of the first game back at home after a long road trip being a let down. They’re certain to get flogged elsewhere. But historically the Hawks have been pretty successful coming home from both the Circus and the Capades under Quenneville, and they probably would have been too tonight were it not for some bad luck and Mike Smith channeling competency for the first time in a while.