Hockey

VS

Records: Hawks 7-5-4 / Wings 4-10-2

Puck Drop: Monday & Wednesday @ 6:30 Central

TV/Radio: Monday NBCSN/WGN 720 Wednesday: NBC “Rivalry Night”

Your Move, Creep: Winging It In Motown 

 

Now we come to the second dance with our ancient enemy, the Detroit Red Wings. While the Wings themselves may be a subway car filled with dead clowns, they managed to blow the doors off the hovercraft filled with sexual predators that is Nashville on Saturday night. Just goes to show that in any given game, even the shittiest of NHL teams can pull one off.

Before their skulling of the Preds, the Wings had gone through a 1-8 stretch that saw them give up the kind of numbers usually seen at Wrigley when the wind is blowing out. They managed to give up 30 goals in that span, and that includes the one game where they held the Panthers to a whopping two goals.

The Wings on the back end are a mess, as they just threw former Cornerstone of the D-Corps Danny Dekeyser and his 5 million cap hit on waivers this morning. Dekeyser had only played 10 games this season due to various maladies, but was originally thought fairly highly of by the front office (clearly, since they signed him to a contract with that kind of paper attached to it). Now assuming he clears waivers (based on that contract, a virtual certainty) he’ll find a home in Grand Rapids or on the Wings taxi squad.

Other than the dearly departed Dekeyser, the Wings D includes such stalwarts as Marc Staal, Patrick Nemeth and Filip Hronek. Despite this rotating cast of characters the Wings D-men have still managed to give up 3 less goals than the Hawks, which can be directly attributable to the presence of Nikita Zadorov.

Behind that Chinese Fire Drill you have the recently returned from injury Jonathan Bernier and Thomas Greiss, who actually haven’t been terrible thus far. Together the two average an 83.33 save percentage on high danger chances, which is good enough for 9th best in the league. Bernier’s stats, while fairly ugly on the surface, have kept the Wings in games long enough for them to merely lose by 1 or 2, as opposed to the 4 or 5 it could be.

Despite all the issues with the D listed above, where the Wings truly shine in their incompetence is on the offensive side of the puck. I had to look up to make sure this was the case, but the Wings don’t have a single player who has scored double digit points thus far. Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin and the aforementioned Filip Hronek have 9 each, and Bobby Ryan has 8. Some of this is due to the fact that the Wings are completely unable to create any high danger chances for their forwards. The team as a whole has only generated 93 high danger chances so far, 9th worst in the league. If you adjust that for games played, they’re 3rd worst. Only Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin have more than 35 shots on the team.

As for the Hawks, after their comeback in the 3rd Saturday night despite getting domed in possession, they currently sit tied with Carolina, Columbus and Dallas for 2nd overall in the division with 18 points. They lose out big time, however, if the league decides to go to win percentage as a tiebreaker (as they will almost certainly have to do, due to the fact that some teams have a higher viral load than the playpen off the Chicago shoreline in July).

Kevin Lankinen bounced back nicely from urping all over himself in the first game against the Jackets, only allowing an absolute top shelf snipe from Laine and a tip shot from Cam Atkinson. He should get the cage in at least the first game, though I wouldn’t be shocked to see Malcom Subban take one as it appears he’s locked up the backup job after his performance in Dallas.

On the scoring side of things, the Hawks PP continues to be weapons-grade and should prove to be too much for the scattershot PK of the Red Wings. Last time out, the Hawks netted 3 power play goals in the series, and that was before the unit really found it’s stride. Look for DeBrincat and Kane to continue their psychic connection with the man advantage.

As for the 5 on 5 play, the Hawks have managed to actually pot a few goals recently at evens, though the team continues to be underwater most nights possession-wise. Some of this could be helped if players like Ian Mitchell, Beaudin and Boqvist (if he can get out of the pressbox) are allowed to carry the puck out of the zone using their speed and creativity. This would take the pressure off the wingers attempting to move past the blue line and into the neutral zone, allowing them to enter the attacking zone with some speed. We’ll see if Colliton is willing to live with the mistakes that can occationally pop up with those things.

The Hawks D continues to be an adventure in their own end, as without Connor Murphy to take up minutes Duncan Keith has been forced to shoulder a larger load. Duncs averaged about 25 minutes per night in the Columbus series, and despite his superhuman training regimen will not be able to keep up that kind of pace. Ian Mitchell played almost 40 minutes in the series and scored his first career goal, as did Nicholas Beaudin. Both are still fairly raw in their own end, however, and Zadorov isn’t helping. Also scratching Boqvist in favor Lucas Carlsson and letting the kid actually learn from his mistakes might be helpful in the long run. Which is the entire point of this season, if you think about it.

All told, if Lankinen and Subban do their part and the PP doesn’t suddenly fall off a cliff the Hawks should (SHOULD) handle the Wings this week. Granted now that I’ve gone from clinically depressed to cautiously optimistic about this team, this is where the wheels will fall off and the Wings will double up their offensive output in a single series. Hopefully I didn’t just motherfuck this into existence. It’s highly unlikely, as if you take out the first game against the Jackets the team has looked fairly competent overall…and dare I say FUN.

Let’s Go Hawks

 

 

Baseball

VS

Records: Tigers- LOL  White Sox- Sigh

Game Times: Friday 3:40 and 7:10(ish)/ Sat 6:10/Sun 2:10

TV: Fri & Sun NBCSN/Saturday WGN

Crazy Cat People: Bless You Boys

SERIES PREVIEW POSTS

Depth Charts and Pitching Staff

Looking Into The Future Of The AL Central

 

This is it. The bitter end. Honestly, the only reason anyone would be watching this series is Tim Anderson’s chase for the AL batting title and as long as he doesn’t shit down his leg this weekend it’s looking more and more like it’s his for the taking. Otherwise all you’re going to be watching is Ivan Nova’s quest to be .500 for the season and The Future™ pummeling the shitty Tigers pitching senseless. Which in and of itself is pretty fun but at some point it turns a little sadistic (cue Simpsons gif)

 

Not much has changed in the week since the Sox last saw the Tigers except the number in their loss column. If the Sox can split the 4 game series this weekend (or Friday gets rained out, which is looking increasingly likely) the Tigers will not break 50 wins in a season for the 2nd time in team history dating back to when the league went to 162 games. They’ve already sewn up the first overall draft pick in June (which is pretty impressive since the Orioles were a special kind of shitty the first half of the season) and have even less than normal to play for. Other than pride I suppose, but I think most of that left Detroit with the last auto jobs in the late 80’s.

For the Sox, it would be nice to close out this year on a high note before the long dark of winter steals the breath from our lungs and the hopes of Garret Cole are swept away on the wind. Tim Anderson is the story, and as long as he can hit .275 on the weekend it would take a herculean effort from DJ LeMahieu to catch him. The other 2 in that race are too far back to be of consequence other than being a footnote. Though if the Sox had pursued Michael Brantley in the last off-season they could’ve had the distinction of having 3 of the 4 top hitters in the AL and still missing the playoffs. Expect to see more Ross Detwiler and Carson Fulmer this weekend.

This is the end, Mr. Anderson. For better or for worse. Finish it out on a high note and after some time off we will come back and pick over the bones of this season and look to the future.

Let’s Go Sox.

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Sox 10 – Tigers 1

Game 2: Sox 5 – Tigers 3

Game 3: Sox 3 – Tigers 6

 

Well it’s not a sweep (which against a team as miserable as the Tigers should always be the goal) but any series win at this point has to be viewed through a positive lens. Honestly if I’m being picky there were a few things that were this the middle of the season I might bitch more about, but at this point of the season all I can do is shrug and gaze longingly at the postseason (and Tim Anderson’s current batting average). The things that needed to be good this series were good (except for Reynaldo Lopez), and the things that didn’t matter were kind of good as well, but still didn’t matter. Playing the Tigers is good for reminding a fan base that despite all the things that have gone wrong for a team during a season, and this season there have been plenty, it can always be much much worse.

 

To The Bullets……OF THE FUTURE™

 

IT’S SUCH GOOD SHIT

 

-The Sox hammered out 47 hits this weekend. 47!!! That’s…a lot. I would’ve wanted some more runs to go with those 47 hits but…POSITIVITY!!!

-TIM ANDERSON WATCH, GAME 155: Timmy did all right this weekend, getting 4 hits and keeping his average at .334, but LeMahieu creeped in a little closer at .329. It will be interesting to see if Renteria gives Anderson an extra day off this week or keeps him out there. I’m sure if it was up to Anderson he’d be out there every day.

-Eloy is on fire right now, going 6 for 14 in the series with two home runs (one of which was of the grand slam variety) and a triple. He came a double short of the cycle Friday night, and is looking like the demigod that was promised us. Oh, his second home run of the series? It was his 30th, good for 2nd in the league for all rookies. He’s gonna lose the rookie of the year honors to Yordan Alvarez of the Astros, but whatever. Alvarez gets to hit in the middle of the MLB lineup equivalent of a fleet of Star Destroyers, so what can you do?

-Speaking of those that deliver, Yoan Moncada is on another plane of existence right now. 6 for 12 on the series with 2 more home runs and some spiffy defense in the field. In his last 15 games, Moncada is hitting .477/.493/.754. I don’t miss Chris Sale that much, do you?

-Credit where credit is due, Adam Engel is quietly having himself a quality back half to the season. In his last 15 games he’s slashing .286/.314/.571 and has 4 home runs for himself. That’s not too bad for your 4th outfielder next year, especially with the defense we all know that he can play. Good for him, good for us.

-All was not roses this weekend, however. Reynaldo Lopez is back to being extremely hittable again, and on top of that it seems like he might be getting frustrated on the mound. He and Renteria had an animated conversation in the dugout after he gave up his second dinger of the day to Gordon “I’m Still Here?” Beckham. Whatever was said didn’t work, as he went back out there and gave up the trifecta to Victor Reyes. Lopez will have one more start on the year, and here’s hoping he ends it on a positive note, as I still feel he’s a solid 5th starter for this club going forward.\

-Next up is the Cleveland Indians, and a chance to play spoiler as the Tribe attempt to sneak into the wild card as they currently sit a half game behind Tampa Bay after the weekend series. Ohhh how glorious it would be to fuck the Tribe out of a postseason appearance, let’s make that a thing.

 

 

 

 

Hockey

Schadenfeude: noun, 1. Pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune. 2. When your rival team is even worse than your team. See: 2019-20 Detroit Red Wings.

2018-2019

32-40-10 74 Pts. (7th in Atlantic Division)

2.73 GF/G (21st) – 3.32 GA/G (27th)

47.1 CF% (28th) – 44.5 xGF% (31st)

18.1 PP% (19th) – 77.1 PK% (28th)

Goalies: In my mind Jimmy Howard is at least 65 years old, but turns out he’s only 34. Only. It’s safe to say his best years are behind him, and while he wasn’t a trainwreck or anything last year, his .907 SV%/3.07GAA at evens isn’t exactly going to save this shitshow of a team. Jonathan Bernier isn’t going to do it either. He’s certainly a serviceable back-up, and let’s be honest neither of these goalies are going to be what sinks the Red Wings’ season, but neither of them are good enough to bail out this team either.

Defense: Why is Mike Green still playing? I guess plenty of Wings fans could yell that right back at me but with the words “Brent Seabrook” in the middle of that sentence. But that doesn’t change the fact that if Mike Green is on your top pairing, you’ve got issues. Last season the Wings were 28th in the league in terms of shots against per game, placing them in the esteemed company of the Rangers, Hawks, and Senators. Only one defenseman (Filip Hronek) was above water in possession last year, and just barely—he had a 50.3 CF%. We know a few things about shitty defenses around here, and that’s what the Red Wings have.

Green will probably pair with Danny DeKeyser, Hronek and Dennis Cholowski maybe, and Patrik Nemeth and Jonathan Ericsson will round out to the main six. Will Trevor Daley stink up the joint for a while? Probably! But who cares? Fuck this team.

Forwards: A lot of teams are stuck with one top line and nothing else, but the Red Wings are really taking this situation to a new level. Bertuzzi-Larkin-Mantha is a decent top line—really, Dylan Larkin is probably the only good thing on this team. But all three are young and could be good pieces to build around. Or maybe they can gtfo to better teams, I don’t know.

Frans Nielsen and Valtteri Filppula are your centers behind Larkin, with Luke Glendening probably centering the fourth line. Andreas Athanasiou isn’t horrible, but I swear I hate that fucker so that’s literally the nicest thing I’m going to say. Justin Abdelkader is still playing on this team, for God’s sake.

Now, they have young guys like Filip Zadina, Taro Hirose, and Michael Rasmussen, who may develop into something, but that’s by no means certain and they weren’t lighting up the scorer’s sheet in the playing time they had last year. This team was dead-ass last in expected goals for. And so it goes with a rebuild—it’s going to be a lot of trial and error.

Prediction: Yes, Steve Yzerman is back and people will try to find the upsides, but let’s not kid ourselves—the Red Wings are going to suck this year. It’s entirely possible they’re at the bottom of the division, and I couldn’t be happier about it. If they’re not, it’s simply because the Senators are proving yet again why relegation is a viable strategy the NHL should adopt. The Wings will end up with somewhere between 75-80 points, and Larkin will be like a poor man’s Connor McDavid—not, he’s not anywhere near as good as McDavid so please do not misunderstand me, but he’s young, talented, and wasting it on a terrible team. But too bad. Fuck this team.

Stats from NHL.com, Hockey Reference and Natural Stat Trick

Previous Team Previews

Carolina

Columbus

New Jersey

New York Islanders

New York Rangers

Philadelphia 

Pittsburgh

Washington

Boston

Buffalo

Baseball

Well, my streak had to come to an end sometime.  Just a pity it had to come to an end against a very beatable Tigers team, as coming into the series Detroit had scored like 12 runs over the last month.  It seemed to be the perfect antidote for a few guys (Nova, Lopez) to go deep into a game and give a burned-out bullpen a much needed rest.  Alas, Nova was the only one who made it into the 7th inning, and managed a meager one out, leaving the bases juiced.  This has been a pretty serious issue for the Sox starting rotation, as thus far this season only one Sox pitcher has made it through 7 innings, and that was Ivan Nova way back on the 1st of April.  Suffice it to say, if this continues most of the bullpen are going to ash away like half the Marvel universe after Thanos snapped his fingers.

 

To The Bullets:

 

– The Sox had plenty of offense for the series, putting up 17 runs in three games and hammering out a bunch of hits.  Unfortunately, some of the timeliest hits were wasted, as Beef Wellington’s game tying dinger on Thursday was promptly scorched away by Arson Fulmer as he came into the game and proceeded to plunk like six guys in a row.

– Tim Anderson served his suspension on Friday, with Leury Garcia filling in admirably in his forced (bullshit) absence.  Garcia has been very good so far this season being deployed pretty much everywhere but catcher.  Players like him are invaluable on a shorthanded team like the Sox, and whenever they decide they would like to have league average production from their 2nd baseman he pretty much makes Yolmer expendable unless he starts hitting.

– Carlos Rodon had basically the same outing Friday as he did against the Yankees in his previous start. Six innings, seven Ks and a couple of hits and walks.  Honestly the only complaint I’ve had with him so far is his tendency to nibble in the early innings, which runs up his pitch count.  Once he starts going into the 7th and 8th inning, the Sox might have a legitimate Ace on their hands.

-Eloy blasted another two-run shot, and Yoan uncorked an absolute missile to dead center field in a cavernous Detroit outfield.  I heard Benetti mention that it was the longest measured home run in Comerica by a visiting player, being only outstripped by JD Martinez when he wore Tigers colors.  Eloy continues to look lost at times on hard breaking pitches coming from righties.  He’s still well above the Mendoza line, and someone with his hit tools is going to figure it out sooner rather than later.

-Ivan Nova had himself a solid start going until he went through the Tigers order for the 3rd time, then his breaking stuff seemed to abandon him.  I’m not super into the whole “opener” concept the Rays have invented, but seeing the success that Yonny Chirinos is having with it makes me think that might be a possibility to have Dylan Covey try that out in front of Nova and Lopez.

-The Sox record now stands at 8-12, with a trip to Baltimore starting tomorrow.  Once again, a team the Sox should be able to at least take two of three from but with Giolito hitting the IL and the Pen pretty burned out, we shall see.

 

Upwards!

Everything Else

This game is a perfect example of why the Blackhawks aren’t actually a good team, despite fancy numbers like wins and point streaks. They blew a three-goal lead in the third against the flotsam that is the Detroit Red Wings, or really, because the two good players on the Wings were able to score multiple times against the entire Hawks lineup. The Hawks’ possession, shots, and general defensive effort were awful, and had they been playing a team that was marginally functional, they probably would have lost. Let’s get to the bullets:

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–The Hawks started strong for the most part. They had a few shots given up really early, but ended up taking control of the first period and jumping out to 3-1 lead. Anisimov caught Jimmy Howard being lazy and dumb and scored on a wraparound, Saad torched Niklas Kronwall—whose level of speed can only be generously called glacial—and scored his 21st goal, and then Dylan Strome had a patient, gorgeous pass to Top Cat who buried it. Their possession at evens wasn’t stellar (exactly 50 CF%) but they had the numbers that counted.

–They started to take their foot off the proverbial gas pedal in the second, even though Kane increased his point streak and extended the lead to 4-1. By the third period they were in full-on blowing-the-game mode, despite being barely above water in possession (52.3 CF%). Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou pretty much scored at will, and fucking Anthony Mantha had assists on all four goals. This points to the fact that Coach Cool Youth Pastor still has to either get the team to listen to him or take him seriously, or at least give half a fuck, when things are going well.

Drake Caggiula got one of his eyes gouged out by Toews’ stick in the first, and he didn’t return the rest of the game. Now, I’ve shit-talked about him plenty, and I still believe he’s basking in some reflected glory by playing on a line with two Hall of Fame’rs having fuck you years, but honestly this isn’t a good thing in any way. Regardless of the reasoning he fit in well on the top line and with Kampf hurt we don’t need to lose any more forwards. Granted Brandon Saad replaced him, and he certainly deserves to be on the top line, but this isn’t the way you want to see it happen.

–The Hawks managed just 20 shots on goal…but hey, they gave up fewer than 40!

–Relatedly, Gustav Forsling looked particularly dreadful tonight. He was constantly standing around not knowing what to do or where to go on most of the Wings’ goals. He finished the night with a 37.5 CF%, and while no one was exactly sparkling with possession tonight, even Slater Koekkoek had over 50%. He was painful to watch and unfortunately I imagine most teams and their moronic GMs are noticing that too.

Cam Ward did make some good saves throughout the night, but he still finished with an .886 SV%. I’m not even going to sit here saying Delia would have been better because who the hell knows these days, but while Ward wasn’t solely to blame for giving up the lead, he never inspired much confidence either.

–Mike Tirico did the play by play for the first time and was perfectly suited to it. He handled Eddie well, and we fortunately were spared Pierre McGuire doing something idiotic or tone deaf like reminding him not to be a fan.

At the end of the day, the Hawks got the two points and this week remains interesting. So all’s well that ends well, but I gotta say that giving up a three-goal lead to a collection of basement-dwellers doesn’t exactly bode well for this playoff push, or whatever this may be. Still, it’s a win, so onward and upward…

 

Everything Else

First Screen Viewing

Stars at Devils (6 p.m.)

Even though the Blackhawks are hopelessly eliminated from any shot at the playoffs by virtue of their inability to inhabit a playoff spot by the time the turkeys were pardoned (yes, I’m kidding), we’d be remiss not to watch the team mockingly flailing its collective scrotum in our faces in the standings. The Stars stand to leapfrog the Wild in the Wild Card standings with a point tonight, albeit with two extra games played. They’ll also look to get Jabba the Hitch his 800th win tonight, which is fitting, given that everyone in America is moonlighting as Annyong Bluth and seeing whichever iteration of a Star War we’re on now. They’ll start Kari Lehtonen and face a Taylor Hall-less (knee ouchie) Devils squad that’s lost three of their last four (1-2-1).

Second Screen Viewing

Maple Leafs at Red Wings (6:30 p.m.)

You watch this game for never-ending Schadenfreude of watching the Red Wings flounder. And the hope that Cock BabMike offers no quarter against his former squad. Plus the Leafs are probably top three in the best-looking sweaters department. The Leafs sans Auston Matthews, who misses his fourth straight game with a head injury, will face Jimmy Two First Names in net, as he and his 90.6 SV% try to end the Wings’s 1-5-5 skid over the last 11 games. Again, the Red Wings have lost 10 of their last 11. Not sure why they called it Little Caesers Arena, since the Wings are neither hot, ready, nor worth even the $5 their stadium’s namesake charges for pizza of a quality that you can find running through a box factory with dog shit on your shoes.

Other Games

Carolina at Buffalo (6 p.m.)

Los Angeles at New York (6 p.m.)

San Jose at Vancouver (9 p.m.)

Everything Else

You know, I never joined a sorority partly because I think that trials of loyalty and the concomitant proof of conformity are stupid. And yet here I am, with this fucking cabal, saddled with all the Red Wings games. You believe this shit? Anyway, let’s get on with it. (And fraternity/sorority people, don’t come at me, I’m only generalizing about my thoughts, not demeaning yours.)