Hockey

vs.

RECORDS: Ducks 17-22-5   Hawks 19-20-6

PUCK DROP: 7:30

TV: NBCSN Chicago

OC GANGSTAS: Anaheim Calling

After dropping yet another two games against teams they want to catch to barely hang on to the playoff chase, the Hawks get a rare Saturday night home game against one of the few teams in their wake. The Anaheim Ducks are in the middle of the rebuild the Hawks won’t allow themselves to take on, transitioning from the Getzlaf-Perry era to whatever Sam Steel and the rest of the kids can produce.

We’ll start with the Hawks, who are once again trotting out this mess of a lineup. As we said in the lineups post, yes the Hawks have injuries. And yes the roster wasn’t very good to begin with. But this is as mangled group of forwards as you’re likely to ever see. David Kampf is not a winger, much less a scoring winger, and has no business playing with Dach and Top Cat. Patrick Kane is a third-liner with one worker bee in Ryan Carpenter and one dunderhead in Alex Nylander. Dylan Sikura, still better than any of Nylander, Highmore, or Quenneville, has whatever confidence he might have gleaned from breaking his duck (sorry again) by sitting for another game. John Quenneville, whose next contribution that you’d notice will be his first, remains on the top line with Kubalik and Toews.

This is a one line team right now. So make it one. Put Kane up there with Toews and Kubalik and play them 22 minutes. Pair Sikura with Top Cat and Dach to give them speed and something of a puck-winner with skill. Use Kampf and Carpenter and Caggiula as a checking line. Mash a fourth line together and play them sparingly. The answers are simple. None of them have been taken, and it’s no wonder these players refuse to bother until they’re on the verge of getting embarrassed.

Anyway, Lehner starts even though he missed the morning skate as he’s over his knee- or ankle-knack.

Right, to the Ducks. Who suck. Truly down in the muck. Not sure why you should give a fuck? If you’re looking to us for help, you’re out of luck. You’ll see as soon as they drop the puck.

Let us have our fun.

Much like the Hawks, the Ducks are a top-heavy team. When Getzlaf and Silfverberg (who’s hurt anyway) and Henrique are out there, they can control the play. When they’re not, they get crushed. There’s a fair amount of kids out there now, like Steel, Comtois, Jones, Larsson, Ritchie (also hurt) and one or two others. The Ducks have admitted one era is over and it’s time to find the next one.

It’s still a pretty solid blue line with HAMPUS! HAMPUS! and Cam Fowler and Josh Manson (he’s mad…he’s bad…), despite Erik Gudbranson’s best efforts. Jacob Larsson is the kid back there that they will hope rises to meet the other three one days soon.

What the Ducks haven’t gotten is Vezina-level goaltending from Josh Gibson like they did for most of last season before he gave in to exhaustion. Ryan Miller hasn’t been much better, sending him back to his My Bloody Valentine records. Gibson has had it especially rough of late, so maybe Miller gets the start.

The Ducks don’t do anything especially well, but they might be eager to get out there in what could be a rare road win for them. It’s really about keeping their top six from going totally off, and you can do that through matchups if Colliton were ever bothered (he’s not). Toews has almost always caused Getzlaf to shrivel and give up, and probably can still in both of their advanced ages.

And if the Hawks can’t get this one before heading out on the road…well, that’s probably it. It’s probably it anyway.

Everything Else

After a disastrous weekend that, if it didn’t turn the Hawks’ playoff chase to cinders, certainly threw it on the fire. So you’ll be forgiven if your eyes turn to next year and beyond, which is really what this season has been about all along. Except the Hawks didn’t have anyone to develop for next year, unless you count Henri Jokiharju, who isn’t here. Nor do Drake Caggiula or Dominik Kahun count. So basically it’s Dylan Strome and that’s it.

But in looking toward next season, you can dream about how the blue line will change. How it has to change, even if the Hawks’ front office doesn’t see it, or believes they have enough time to wait for their four kids who’ll never fit on the roster together anyway. If your scout’s hat is on, we get it.

There is only one name on the free agent pool that will change anything, and that’s Erik Karlsson. And he will be as expensive as possible, and may not be interested in coming to a team that is definitely in flux, at best. Maybe all it takes is money, but the Hawks seem unlikely to flash that kind of wad even if EK65 was batting his ever so lovely lashes at them. And the rest of the free agent pool blows when it comes to d-men.

So that means trade. Or trades. Jacob Trouba will be available for a price, but he’s spent the season proving he might not quite be worth the ransom the Jets would ask, and that’s before the intra-divisional tax. Cody Ceci is another who’ll be RFA, but he’s…well, he’s got a terminal case of being Cody Ceci. The Hawks have inquired before, but they have to aim higher.

We present Hampus Lindholm.

Hampus! Hampus!’s numbers won’t leap off the page at you. 34 points is his career-high. 13 goals is another. But you have to look deeper than that.

Lindholm’s defensive responsibilities have grown and grown as he’s gone along, with a dwindling number of shifts starting in the defensive zone. That hasn’t stopped him topping the team-rate in Corsi, scoring chances, and until this season, high-danger chances. And keep in mind the last three seasons he’s been playing for the dumbest coach in the world. It’s hard to judge anyone under that. When he had a coach that played at least an up-tempo style in Bruce Boudreau, he simply kicked around what was in front of him, including carrying a 57% share in ’14-’15. He is one of the more underrated d-men in the league.

And he’s done it with a couple partners, so he’s not a product of getting to play with someone special and just coattail-riding. He’s mostly been with Josh Manson, but also Brandon Montour and some Cam Fowler, and he’s always lifted them up. He is what the Hawks are looking for, especially as they need someone who can lift a player or two up.

So, why would the Ducks trade a 25-year-old d-man who does all these things? Especially one signed for three more seasons at an incredibly reasonable $5.2M hit? Because A) they’re the Ducks and they’re stupid and B) because they’re going to have to jump-start a rebuild with something. Their forwards are just going to be salary-clearing, which won’t net much in return. They just re-signed Jakob Silfverberg for some unknown reason, which might have gotten them something tangible in return.

They have to cash in on a chip somewhere. Offer them Boqvist, because the idealized version of Boqvist is probably Lindholm anyway. Offer them Boqvist and Beaudin, fuck. There’s not enough room for everyone, and you can make do with Jokiharju and Mitchell. Or offer them Jokiharju, who’s development you might have already fucked but other teams don’t know that yet. You need a splash, and Hampus! Hampus! is it.

The Hawks are going to have to get creative. Here’s a start.

Game #64 Preview Suite

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Douchebag Du Jour

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

A scheduling quirk sees the Hawks play three straight teams that they just played, so here’s the Q&A we did with @MsJenNeale just two weeks ago. 

The Ducks have had their injury problems, but are kind of floating in the netherworld below the playoffs and all the metrics suggest that’s about right. Is this where this team should be?

Yes, I would say so. John Gibson is epically average – as I’ve insisted for years. Randy Carlyle is who we thought he was, Mr. Dump ‘n Chase. Kesler is playing at 60% after offseason hip surgery. The Ducks are lucky the rest of the Pacific (sans Vegas) is a dumpster fire or they’d be worse off.

 

Rickard Rakell is having another big season, though accumulating a fair amount on the power play. Is he or will he be a premier even-strength scorer?

The kid is magical. It depends on if he can stay healthy and who he plays with. Keep him with Getzlaf and he probably starts getting more even strength goals. Lord knows Getzlaf won’t shoot and Perry couldn’t put a beach ball in the net.

Corey Perry has 12 goals so far after 19 last year. Is he D-O-N-E?
 He certainly appears to have stopped stealing souls or drinking the blood of sacrificed animals in order to gain his talent. He’s still doing Corey Perry things on the ice, but the scoring isn’t there. I don’t think he’s done-done, but he’s not scoring 25 goals anymore. Dude doesn’t even play in OT because he’s too slow. When Getzlaf is out-skating you, you got a problem. 
On the flip side, we’ve been trying to make a Norris case for Hampus Lindholm even if he doesn’t have the points. That good?
So, so good. He embodies what the Norris Trophy should be rewarded for. The sad part is he plays out West and won’t score a ton of points so he won’t get the attention he deserves. His shot is getting better so maybe one day he’ll get a Norris (for points).
Where is this Ducks team headed in the next couple years?
 Hear that creaking sound? That’s the window closing. Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler are signed until the end of time, and they’re clearly on the downside of their careers. Around them are a lot of young, but good parts. If Patrick Eaves never plays again, I’d hope the Ducks could keep Adam Henrique with that money. He’s been a revelation.
 I’m mostly concerned with what Bob Murray does when Gibson’s contract is up after next season. He’ll be an RFA and Murray looooooves him. I don’t want the Ducks money tied up in an average goalie for a long time. They’ve already done they with three forwards. It’s only going to make future success by the team damn near impossible. (I still miss Freddie Anderson.)

 

 

Game #66 Preview

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 vs. 

RECORDS: Ducks 27-20-11   Hawks 24-25-8

PUCK DROP: 7:30

TV: NBCSN Chicago

NOT MISCHA BARTON: Anaheim Calling

It seems so long ago now that games between these teams really meant something. Really got the blood going. There was the one in 2013 in Anaheim that was between the two best winning percentages in like NHL history. Then another one a week later. There was the ’15 Conference Final, one of the weirdest and stressful series the Hawks ever played. It’s memories like that we’ll have to cling to even tighter now, to get through the last two months here. They’re going to seem a little foggier than they did.

Anyway, the Hawks are scheduled to show up to host the Ducks tonight. The Ducks still have things to play for, as due to the Pacific Division’s utter incompetence they haven’t been bounced from those playoff spots and they’re only three points behind the Wild for a wild card spot. Not that you’ve thought about the Ducks at all this season, and really nor should you.

For one, the Ducks have been beat up, and they weren’t all that interesting to begin with. Getzlaf, Perry (not sure if it still matters), Kase, Kesler, Fowler, Hampus! Hampus!, and Eaves have all missed significant time this year. They’ve barely had a full lineup at any point. At the moment only Eaves is still out, so this is as close as they’ve gotten.

But even that lineup isn’t really impressive, at least not at forward. Corey Perry is just an anal fissure now, as he can’t score or move. He’s basically a slow Burrows, except he’s so slow he can’t even get there to provide his normal bullshit. He won’t get suspended at any time because he’ll never be there in time to knee anyone. Ryan Getzlaf stopped caring about shooting or skating in between the circles at least four years ago, and that’s only gotten worse. Kesler  is on one hip now and can’t really score to make it all count the way he used to, and he can barely get in range so you can hear whatever he’s yapping about. That basically leaves the Ducks without a #1 center or much of a #1 line. Rickard Rakell is making a fist of it but a good portion of his scoring comes on the man-advantage. Kase, Silfverberg, apple of Fifth Feather’s eye Cogliano, these are all useful players but they’re middle six players. Adam Henrique has threatened at being more since coming over from Jersey, and without him, boy who knows where they’d be? It’s hardly a shock that the Ducks are 24th in goals per game, and Randy Carlyle’s “hit that thing with that thing” method of opening up offense or any jar in his house isn’t helping.

It’s unfortunate, because there could be a pretty dynamic, young defensive group here. Hampus! Hampus! might be the most underrated player in the league. Brandon Montour has had a breakout season. Josh Manson has kept pace with Hampus! Hampus! Cam Fowler actually turned out to be what we always made fun of him for not being. But they’re weighed down by Kevin “Vacuous Maw” Bieksa and Francois “No I’m Not Dead I Always Look Like That” Beauchemin. And they aren’t given much license to get creative from their coach, to which a good dump-in is akin to a religion. Whenever the Ducks blow it up, if they decide to or even can, the blue line will be a nice building block.

They’ve been backed up most of the year by John Gibson, who’s just good enough to break your heart. He actually goes RFA this year which should make for some interesting viewing. Either way, the Ducks should be a desperate team tonight.

For the Hawks…I don’t even know any more. It looks like Erik Gustafsson will be the scratch tonight as Carl Dahlstrom has impressed enough to stick around. And that’s fine. Glass Jeff has been punted back to Rockford, and that’s fine. J.F. Berube is your new import, which tells you everything you need to know. Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma are on the top two lines as Stan hangs a “For Sale” sign out in the hopes of mid-round picks for both. To compensate for that Top Cat is on a fourth line with Hartman and Sharp, and we are left to look around and where we are and think about all our regrets and mistakes in our lives.

At this point, as we’ve said, it’s really just about pride. The Hawks really didn’t play badly in Vegas and were undone by a goalie who simply didn’t belong. Not really anyone’s fault on that. They at least looked like they wanted to be there. Should be an interesting atmosphere at the UC tonight. First off, probably won’t be more than three-quarters full, which will come as a shock to some. And it will be a crowd ready to groan, jeer, and boo at a moment’s notice. This is the old days, the bad days, the all-or-nothing days! They’re back, there’s no choices left.

 

Game #58 Preview

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You know us. We do this every so often. One day, we’re going to get our hockey equivalent of Felix Hernandez’s Cy Young, when he won just 13 games. It was a triumph for the analytic set, a true breaking down of the walls to look at process and not just results.

It may be a long time before we get that with hockey. It may never happen. The Norris Trophy may always be the guy who gets the most points from the blue line combined with an already sterling reputation, deserved or not. Or whoever Eddie Olczyk says should win it. Or both. Or maybe it’ll always be Erik Karlsson, and that’s ok. He’s a sweet boy. He should have more than he does.

John Klingberg seems to have the inside track this year, leading all d-men in scoring for a resurgent Dallas team. Karlsson will probably be a finalist. Kings fans are wetting themselves to get scumbag Doughty another one, perhaps in the hopes their efforts will keep him there when he becomes a free agent in 2019. Not likely. Brent Burns and PK Subban are leading their teams in scoring, which is always a big feather.

Hampus Lindholm will never score enough to get noticed by voters. Playing in Anaheim certainly doesn’t help, as no writer can stay up past 10:30 apparently. But perhaps one day, when they look past points, he will get a chance. Or he’ll have to binge one year. But let’s make the case.

Here’s the evidence: Hampus has the best relative-corsi of any d-man in the league playing over 200 minutes at even-strength this year. Better than both Dougie Hamilton and Mark Giordano, who get to play together. He has the second-best relative expected goals percentage, behind something called Tim Heed on the Sharks. He’s 10th among all d-men in attempts against per 60. Quite simply, no team improves as much with one player on the ice against when he’s not then the Ducks do when Hampus is out there.

Moreover, whereas Giordano and Hamilton get to play with each other, Hampus has played with Josh Manson, who isn’t a slob but isn’t Dougie or Giordano either. Whereas Klingberg has seen most of his passes go to Seguin, Benn, and Radulov, Hampus plays behind mostly Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano. Not exactly breathtaking scorers, though solid wingers in their own right.

It’s a pretty solid case, though one that won’t see Hampus anywhere near Vegas when the baubles are handed out. What we can say that at $5 million per for the next six years, Hampus is just about the biggest bargain you can find on any blue line. He’ll have to live with that if he doesn’t get any silverware.

 

Game #58 Preview

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I Make A Lot Of Graphs

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Jen Neale is formerly of Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog, and now works in Esports but still follows the Ducks religiously. And quite frankly, we don’t need more than one Ducks fan in our lives. 

The Ducks have had their injury problems, but are kind of floating in the netherworld below the playoffs and all the metrics suggest that’s about right. Is this where this team should be?

Yes, I would say so. John Gibson is epically average – as I’ve insisted for years. Randy Carlyle is who we thought he was, Mr. Dump ‘n Chase. Kesler is playing at 60% after offseason hip surgery. The Ducks are lucky the rest of the Pacific (sans Vegas) is a dumpster fire or they’d be worse off.

 

Rickard Rakell is having another big season, though accumulating a fair amount on the power play. Is he or will he be a premier even-strength scorer?

The kid is magical. It depends on if he can stay healthy and who he plays with. Keep him with Getzlaf and he probably starts getting more even strength goals. Lord knows Getzlaf won’t shoot and Perry couldn’t put a beach ball in the net.

Corey Perry has 11 goals so far after 19 last year. Is he D-O-N-E?
 He certainly appears to have stopped stealing souls or drinking the blood of sacrificed animals in order to gain his talent. He’s still doing Corey Perry things on the ice, but the scoring isn’t there. I don’t think he’s done-done, but he’s not scoring 25 goals anymore. Dude doesn’t even play in OT because he’s too slow. When Getzlaf is out-skating you, you got a problem. 
On the flip side, we’ve been trying to make a Norris case for Hampus Lindholm even if he doesn’t have the points. That good?
So, so good. He embodies what the Norris Trophy should be rewarded for. The sad part is he plays out West and won’t score a ton of points so he won’t get the attention he deserves. His shot is getting better so maybe one day he’ll get a Norris (for points).
Where is this Ducks team headed in the next couple years?
 Hear that creaking sound? That’s the window closing. Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler are signed until the end of time, and they’re clearly on the downside of their careers. Around them are a lot of young, but good parts. If Patrick Eaves never plays again, I’d hope the Ducks could keep Adam Henrique with that money. He’s been a revelation.
 I’m mostly concerned with what Bob Murray does when Gibson’s contract is up after next season. He’ll be an RFA and Murray looooooves him. I don’t want the Ducks money tied up in an average goalie for a long time. They’ve already done they with three forwards. It’s only going to make future success by the team damn near impossible. (I still miss Freddie Anderson.)

 

Game #58 Preview

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Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

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Longtime guys on this blog will know that there really isn’t a team I hate more than the Anaheim Ducks. Their team is chockfull of shit gibbons and deutsche banks and it’s being watched by a bunch of buzzards and mouth-breathing giblets in the stands. And the whole area really could go away and I doubt anyone would miss it. It’s the most hellish suburbia one can imagine, and if you actually met a Lucille Bluth in real life you’d firebomb her house within seven minutes. I’ve met a real life Gob Bluth in Orange County, because everyone there is one, and believe me it wasn’t funny.

So you know I’d love to sit here and spend 800-10000 words telling you how much the Anaheim Ducks will suck. Sadly, I’m not going to be able to do that. Let’s get through this together.

Anaheim Ducks

’16-’17 Record: 46-23-13  105 points (1st in Pacific, lost to NSH in conference final)

Team Stats 5v5: 49.6 CF% (19th)  50.5 SF% (13th)  50.9 SCF% (11th)  7.7 SH% (15th)  .930 SV% (5th)

Special Teams: 18.7 PP% (17th)  84.7 PK% (4th)

 

Everything Else

 at 

Game Time:  9:00PM CDT
TV/Radio: CSN, NBCSN, WGN-AM 720
Ixnay On The Hombre: Anaheim Calling

Like a buoyant High Life hangover turd in a port-o-john at a summer street festival, the Anaheim Ducks have somehow floated their way to the top of the Pacific Division, and have an opportunity to clinch the division yet again for the fifth straight year should they win in any fashion tonight and San Jose beats the Oilers. What a time to be alive.

Everything Else

oldschool at draft_lens1960363module9273829photo_1209145008daffy-duck-donald-duck

Game Time: 7:00PM Central
TV/Radio: NBC, CBC, TVA, WGN-AM 720
Story Of My Life: Anaheim Calling, Battle of California

It has been 363 days since the Blackhawks lost a Game 7 in the Western Conference Final on home ice, blowing two separate two goal leads and a lead going into the third period. Tonight they will finally get a chance to take another step in righting the wrong that was last season, and all that stands in their way is the West’s number 1 seed on their home ice in the form of the Anaheim Ducks.

Everything Else

draft_lens1960363module9273829photo_1209145008daffy-duck-donald-duck vs oldschool

Game Time: 7:00PM Central
TV/Radio: NBCSN, CBC, TVA, WGN-AM 720
Prison Bound: Anaheim Calling, Battle of California

Because seemingly nothing can ever be simple or straightforward with this iteration of the Hawks, they now find themselves in an unfamiliar situation under Joel Quenneville: being forced to win a Game 6 at home in order to force a Game 7 after tying the series at 2-2 on Saturday. And in their way remain the Anaheim Ducks, who are looking to punch their ticket to the Cup final while keeping themselves undefeated in regulation this post season.