Game Times: 7:00PM (2/27), 6:00PM (2/28)
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network (2/28), WGN-AM 720
Big Money Rustlas: Winging It In Motown

As the Hawks and Jackets showed earlier in the week, even in an abbreviated, intra-division only schedule thanks to the interminable pestilence still keeping the world in its grip, it is still in fact possible to have a completely disinterested late-February snoozefest. It’s all about maintaining a sense of normalcy out there, and those two teams’ efforts were appreciated. And the drudgery continues this weekend with another two games against the visiting Red Wings, whom the Hawks played in Detroit just last week, and against whom the Hawks have half of their six (6) regulation wins in 21 games.



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





Game Times: 7:ooPM (1/22) , 11:30AM (1/24)
TV/Radio: NBCSN Chicago (1/22), NBC, TVA-S (1/24), WGN-AM 720
Big Money Rustlas: Winging It In Motown

Prior to the season starting, the common refrain was that the Hawks couldn’t be that bad, they’d be in the same division as the Red Wings, and they were ass on ice last year, so they’d at least be able to rack up a few wins against them. But the early returns a week into the season have shown that there will be no game the Hawks can’t find themselves capable of losing, and the Wings themselves are at least kinda sorta a little bit improved from last year.


You have to hand it to Steve Yzerman and the Wings. This is how you tank. It’s rare to see this hardcore of a tank in the NHL, outside of Ottawa at least, but the Wings have managed it. As flawed and infuriating as the Hawks are, they have twice as many points as the Wings. Twice. You might clamor for something like this in Chicago, but take a good look at the Wings and decide if that’s what you really want. And remember that the Wings haven’t had players the quality of Kane, Toews, Keith, or Crawford to jettison in years. It takes a while just to get here.

Part of this rebuild is identifying what is going to be on the team when it matters again, no matter how far off that is. The foundation must be ground in something, as General Zod told you. Filip Hronek seems to be something the Wings are banking on, and with cause. Tyler Bertuzzi is another, though probably farther down the lineup in the years to come. Anthony Mantha is already 25, so that’s questionable.

The biggest pillar the Wings are selling is that Dylan Larkin will be the #1 center when they’re ready to not be a reminder of how life can go horribly wrong. What this post presupposes is…maybe he isn’t?

It is hard to judge fully what Larkin is, simply because he’s played on dogshit teams for so long. Last year he put up a 73-point campaign which pretty much nothing on his wings. And yet that very well might be his ceiling, as he won’t approach that this season and again he’s getting top center minutes at evens and on the power play. At some point, if you’re truly a diamond you’ll shine through the muck, as it were.

Our argument falls flat though when you see what kind of relative numbers Larkin is putting up, at least metrically. He six points above the team’s Corsi-percentage rate this year, after being nearly 10 above it last year. His relative xG% is 8.65 above this campaign after 9.62 last year. So even if he’s still in the red overall, he’s doing far better than the wayward and destitute that comprise his teammates.

Larkin’s individual shots, chances, and attempts this year are all down from last year, but that again could be from playing with no one who can create things for him instead of the other way around. We won’t know until he gets some actual talent around him, which might come in the form of Elmer Soderblom, Moritz Seider, Filip Zadina, or Alex Lafreniere if the Wings end up with the 1st pick in June. That’s the hope around there.

And it still kind of has to be Larkin. Lafreniere is a wing, and the rest of the system is much stronger on wingers or d-men than it is on centers.  Joe Veleno is the just about the only center in the system that’s going to make it to Detroit soon, and he doesn’t project to displace Larkin. There isn’t anyone coming to take Larkin’s job anytime soon.

Still, Larkin doesn’t really look like a premier scorer. He’s got one 30+ goal season, but has broken 20 only one other time in five seasons. His career SH% or chances he gets don’t suggest anything more than a 20-25 goal guy. Is he a great playmaker? Doesn’t appear to be, though full judgement will come when his wingers aren’t consistently dizzy or looking for directions. He might just be a #2 center.

Depends on what projection Yzerman has here, but the ballsy call might be to at least see what’s out there for Larkin. He’ll be 24 next year and on a very reasonable $6.1M hit for the next two seasons. There are a lot of teams that could use him as a #2 center (Bruins as Krejci ages? Sharks for when Thornton retires? Stars?), and the Wings might need more than they’ve already got. They’re years from competing anyway. It wouldn’t be the biggest shock, is all we’re saying. Though with this draft as weak as it’s considered at the moment, adding more picks in it doesn’t have quite the appeal.

That would take some brass balls. This isn’t just the only player who’s been worth watching on the team for years. This is a kid who grew up in Michigan, wanting to play for the Wings his whole life and then became captain. You can see why the Wings want to build everything around him. It’s just a question of if they really can.


Who The Fuck Are These People? – It was one thing when the Wings fucked off to the Eastern Conference because their precious fans couldn’t stay up past 10pm so they could be up early for the jobs they don’t have, which essentially ruined this rivalry. Also it helped them keep their stupid little playoff streak alive a couple more years so they could get labeled by the Bruins or Lightning a couple times, and they must be so proud. But now that they’re in a full rebuild, we don’t have any idea who any of these jokers they’re running out there are. Or if we do we know enough to not care. Alex Biega? Fabbri Robbie? Patrik Nemeth? These guys have go a far ways north just to get a shoulder shrug. We’d try and build up bile for Dylan Larkin…but really who cares? He’s never played game that mattered and probably won’t for another three years.

Trevor Daley – Dumbest player in the league who plays with chew in his lip. How fucking gross is that? Could it be any more Canadian?

Anthony Mantha – Apparently the Wings always have to have some mule that scores goals for no reason. So here’s Mantha, who skates like a building but yet piles up goals no one will remember. On pace for an prime “Yeah, but who gives a shit?” career.



RECORDS: Red Wings 10-29-3   Hawks 18-18-6

PUCK DROP: 6:30pm


GOTTA LOSE YOUR MIND: Winging It In Motown

As we comment every time these two meet, it used to mean so much. This was one of the NHL’s deadliest rivalries, at least among the fanbases. On the ice…well, it wasn’t a rivalry for much of the last 30 years. The Wings rose above where the Hawks could ever dream of getting in the early 90s, and only at the very end of their reign did the Hawks stare them in the eye. And that was almost 20 years later. And quickly the Wings faded away, and ran off to the Eastern Conference so Mike Ilitch wouldn’t have to stay up so late and risk shitting himself. Much of the heat has gone, and what’s left is basically from memory. The younger section of the fanbase will never know the vitriol and bile this used to have. And maybe that’s a good thing.

If it was still there, this would resemble their tangles in the 80s, when both teams were either terrible or just good enough to be chum for the Oilers. It all goes in cycles, I suppose.

If it does, the Wings are certainly at the bottom of theirs. In truth, Detroit probably needed to do this a few years ago, but kept trying to desperately crawl and cling to the very bottom rung of the playoffs, with signings like Trevor Daley or Frans Nielsen or some others in the past. But it didn’t work, and now this is the full tear-down. They’re still committed to Justin Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen, love letters from Ken Holland, but every other vet is on his way out no later than this summer. Steve Yzerman will hope to flog a couple of them at least for any pick or prospect he can get.

Of course, that means what’s on the ice is truly awful. The Wings trail everyone by at least 13 points in the NHL. They have yet to crack double-digits in regulation wins. They’re last in goals for, and last in goals against. That’s how you bottom out, folks! And they can’t even argue they’re somewhat unlucky to be this bad. They’re second last in Corsi, and second-last in expected goals. They’re last in shooting-percentage, and third-last in save-percentage. What the Wings do well you can put in your pipe and smoke it and not have nearly enough to pass around. This is a truly wretched outfit. And it should be.

Did I mention they’ve lost seven of eight? Or 17 of 20, all in regulation? Try to contain your sorrow, I’m sure you’re just dying inside. Also, though +/- is a bullshit stat, it’s hard not to gawk at Andreas Anathasiou’s -35 in half a season and wonder just how the gods could allow such a calamity.

All of this means the Hawks can’t fuck this one up. The Wings have no defense and they have an attack that even the Hawks should be able to repel. Even if the Hawks aren’t all there mentally, even they could get a win in second gear here. This is the free spot on the Bingo card. If you don’t let Dylan Larkin go off the leash, this team can’t score. The corpses of Valtteri Filppula and Nielsen are still around. Luke Glendening is like 49 years old now. They’re even beat up, as Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou are both hurt and are two of the few who don’t come with mittens pinned to their jackets.

For the Hawks, Robin Lehner and Zack Smith missed practice yesterday, as that nasty fall Lehner took against Vancouver came home to roost. So Corey Crawford finds his way back into the lineup. Everything else wikk remain as it was.

The Hawks have a nice row of home games here, though they’ve been mediocre at home all season. The Wings blow more than anyone has blown in a long while, they just outplayed the Flames, the Predators are seriously trying to get Peter Laviolette to the unemployment office, and the Ducks aren’t any good either. It’s all set up, but first you have to hit the hanging curveball. Don’t foul it off your foot.


It was almost a decade now that Steve Yzerman left the Wings front office. While it seemed a bit off, and there was a section of Red Wings fans that thought it was on the level of a crime that Yzerman wasn’t allowed to replace Ken Holland then, it didn’t rise to the level of controversy as the Wings were still on top and Holland not yet discovered to be one of the luckier morons around. Since Yzerman left of course, the Wings haven’t seen anything past the second round in 10 seasons, haven’t won a playoff round in six, and will have missed the playoffs the last four when this one’s over. It may be far too late to have saved that era of Detroit hockey, but according to Wings fans everyone is where they should be now.

The first thing Yzerman will have to do is identify or find pieces that the team will be built upon. Is that Dylan Larkin? Jury is still very much out on that, though he is very good. Is he a franchise turner? When Yzerman landed in Tampa, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman were already there. You can’t get much better than that. Dylan Larkin is now Steven Stamkos. There isn’t anyone here to be a homeless man’s Hedman yet.

However, to discredit what Yzerman built down there would be completely unfair. Yzerman’s second draft saw him nab Vladimir Namestnikov, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat. The latter two would form two-thirds of the Triplets that were major parts of the Lightning’s continued runs to the conference final and beyond. His third draft netted Andrei Vasilevskiy and Cedric Pacquette. Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli, and Mathieu Joseph would follow in the next few years, who are the backbone of this Lightning team.

Yzerman also went outside the draft in signing Tyler Johnson and stealing Ben Bishop for Cory Conacher. Anton Stralman ended up being the analytic darling of free agent signings. The Zobrist of hockey, if you will (you won’t). It’s an impressive list of team-building.

There were missteps, of course. The Bolts blue line was always a bit plodding beyond Hedman. Ryan Callahan sucked up a ton of cap space for what became a pretty shitty Brandon Dubinsky impression. Dan Girardi did the same. Ryan McDonagh aged a ton upon arrival. No one bats 1.000.

But Yzerman did earn a rep for moving on pretty quickly when he could. His first team went to the conference final under Guy Boucher and his overrated, boring-ass ways that were just riding Dwayne Roloson‘s second nuclear streak. Boucher was fired just over a season later and that entire team moved out for what would come next and what you saw here in 2015. Jonathan Drouin at #3 overall in the draft never earned a spot and never stopped bitching about it. He was chucked for Mikhail Sergachev, who has contributed heavily to the Lightning of late. Stevie Y rarely falls in love with something that isn’t worth it.

Maybe it’s better to arrive at the Wings now. In 2010-2011, he would have had the same problems that Holland refused to see, the aging stars that were no longer up for carrying a team deep into the spring. The cap problems. And the desperation to keep bolstering that up.

That doesn’t mean it’s a total blank slate in Motor City. Yzerman will lose the contracts of Mike Green, Jimmy Howard, Jonathan Ericsson, and Trevor Daley after the season. That’s some $16M in space. Only Andreas Anathasiou and Tyler Bertuzzi will require big raises. And splashing cash in the free agent market in the summer shouldn’t be a priority, as this team is a long way from anything.

Still, the major part is finding the foundation. Larkin has done the best he can, but he’s never had an 80-point season. Then again, he hasn’t had much talent around him either. Is Filip Hronek the new anchor on the blue line? Filip Zadina (Larry Horse say too Filip-y) hasn’t flashed yet to signal why he was taken 6th overall.

What Yzerman buys everyone is a ton of time. Wings fans aren’t going to get seriously impatient with him for seasons, which is good because he’s going to need it. His time in Tampa buys a lot of additional trust. A possible #1 pick overall will as well, though there’s no generational player in this draft as there have been in previous.

The only complaint is that Yzerman’s Lightning only won one Prince Of Wales trophy. Of course, if Duncan Keith hadn’t gone supernova in ’15 and the Penguins not around in ’16, that might be different. Three of four years they lost to the eventual champions in the third round or later, and all of them to the definitive teams of the era.

Wings fans won’t accept that when it’s all said and done. But it’s a long road to even there for them.


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.


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, Hockey Reference and Natural Stat Trick

Previous Team Previews



New Jersey

New York Islanders

New York Rangers






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


RECORDS: Hawks 25-26-9   Red Wings 23-29-8


TV: NBCSN (with Mike “Handsy Hands” Tirico calling his first ever hockey game)


I guess pretty soon we’re going to have to replace the train-wreck picture. Is there a way to represent “no plan but a process?” We’ll find out. Because here’s something for ya: If the Hawks win tonight and the Jets beat the Avs, the Hawks will hold the final wild card spot. Fuck, they’ll only be two points behind the Stars for the first wildcard spot, and they just happen to wash up here on Sunday. The Avs do on Friday. As stupid and nonsensical as it may be, these are actual big games. If the Hawks were to win the next three, including two over direct competitors, they aren’t just in the playoff race. They’re firmly entrenched. Perhaps even slight favorites.

They’ll also only be .500. And even a win tonight would only see them seven points ahead of this twisted heap of metal that is the Red Wings. They’re only two points ahead of the Ducks, who are unquestionably a fertilizer collection of a hobo.


Anyway, that’s the scene, and just about every time you’ve expected the floor to drop out from the Hawks they just keep finding a way to stick around. Either loss to the Bruins or Jackets could have easily sent them to a tailspin. Especially as both were followed by piss poor starts against the Devils and Senators, And yet they recovered. Yes, they recovered against the Devils and Senators, which essentially is the hockey interpretation of my crazy, 30-pound husky/spitz mix knocking over a toddler out of sheer excitement (and she’s done this). But whatever. They recovered. And now it’s at a point where you have to say the Hawks can’t really lose to the Wings. It would be a bad loss.

So here we are. Surface details: Cam Ward will start, as it appears Collin Delia has played himself into waiting around until Corey Crawford is healthy and he can be packed back off to Rockford. His confidence could probably use it. Brendan Perlini is sick, might not play, letting Chris Kunitz back in. Brent Seabrook will play, which will assuredly tighten up the defense that was more welcoming than a Vegas buffet. Ha, that’s funny. See what I did there?

As for the Wings, they still suck. Since losing to the Hawks even though they outplayed them, they’ve beaten the Predators and Senators, but lost to the Flyers twice in a home-and-home. They’re just waiting for Monday, when they can eject their flotsam for picks and fringe prospects, and fill those vacated spots with more promising kids. There’s talk talk that last spring’s top pick, Filip Zadina, will come up after the deadline to take Nyquist’s spot. Stuff like that.

Unlike last time, the Hawks will get Jimmy Howard instead of Jonathan Bernier. Howard will be auditioning for the Sharks or maybe Flames or Jackets as trade bait. He’s a free agent in the summer, the Wings are going to have to have a longer term plan in net than him, and he’s actually been pretty good this year. He’s got playoff experience, and this might be a chip Wings cash in for more than they probably should. His .913 is certainly an improvement on what those teams mentioned are getting right now.

Other differences from 10 days ago is that Trevor Daley is back with his chaw and wayward sense of direction and logic. He joins something named Filip Hronek on the third-pairing. Justin “Let Out The” Abdelkader (cuz the revolution’s here and you know it’s right) has been punted to the bottom-six where he’s always belonged, allowing Nephew Bertuzzi to be with Dylan Larkin. Other than that, there’s not much to report.

Again, if the Hawks keep Larkin and Andreas Anathasiou (I can’t wait another dayyyyyyy) on a leash, you’re three-quarters of the way to beating this outfit. There’s not a lot of depth here, the blue line is slow, and when the Hawks were fully engaged last time this was a team they actually looked significantly faster than. Keep that up, and suddenly the weekend is awfully interesting.


Game #61 Preview Suite




Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built