RECORDS: Flames 26-18-8 Hawks 24-20-8
PUCK DROP: 7:30
TV: NBCSN Chicago
SONS OF OTTO: Flamesnation.ca
The following is getting into “Jimini Jillickers!” territory, but tonight begins a crucial stretch for the Hawks. If that stretch didn’t already start last Saturday. Or after the break. Or a month ago. I’ve declared so many of these fucking things it’s impossible to keep track. The bottom line is the Hawks need to kick this pick if the last month or so of the season is going to matter. And we’ll probably say that again soon.
The Hawks get seven of the next 10 at home, except that hasn’t been a panacea for anything for them this year. Three of those home games are against teams that are with them in the Western muddle around the last playoff spot, tonight against Calgary, next week against the Ducks, and Saturday against the Wild. They basically need to take all three in regulation, plus a few others. If they don’t eat well at home over the next three weeks, then you’ll know it’s over. There’s another thing I’ve said way too often.
Apparently Joel Quenneville gets the desperation, as he’s throwing more shit at the wall in the hopes of proving his geniusness once again. “GENTLEMEN! I HAVE INVENTED….THIS LINEUP!”
It has a new 3rd/4th line, depending on your point of view, of Saad-Hartman-Sharp. I guess there’s some benefit in cloistering your three biggest disappointments altogether, and hoping the mass ennui just turns itself into a positive force. I have no idea what it’s supposed to do, though Hartman and Saad could actually do something if they had a playmaker with them to get them in space where they perform better. Sharp is not that guy, but there aren’t any other options besides Wingels or Bouma so let’s just go with this. Give them the same instructions that have made Jurco-Kampf-Vinnie Smalls successful. Just do shit and do it fast, even if Sharp isn’t capable. Let’s not complicate this.
Of course, no desperate Hawks game would be complete without Q setting up his d-pairs while fingering his own ass, so out goes Connor Murphy again for reasons no one can understand. Especially when it involves giving Jan Rutta and Brent Seabrook more time. It’s ok, not like the Flames didn’t run circles around these two just last time out! Glass Jeff gets the start and poor rebound control.
As for the Flames, they have their own work to do as they sit outside both the wildcard and Pacific playoff picture, which are both open to them. They trail both by one point, and you have to believe this team is going to haul in the Kings because they’re not really any good and the Flames should be. Yes, they have depth scoring problems, though Kris Versteeg seems to be ready to come riding in on his donkey to save the day. Because you know Steeger would ride a donkey instead of a horse. Don’t play. They have the best pairing in the West, a goalie playing pretty well, and a genuine top six. This shouldn’t be that hard but they seem intent on making it so. They’ll be the “Team No One Wants To Play (TM).”
Worth watching tonight is how cute Q gets with his matchups. The top six of the Flames simply stinkfisted the Hawks top six in Calgary, and that doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for Q to get both away from Monahan or Backlund. But there are going to be spots when that is necessary, because the Hawks really need this one. He did it on the road in Nashville and in theory it should be easier at home. But it’s not something he’s done a lot of lately, and we all know Rutta is going to start every shift in the d-zone against Monahan and Gaudreau because GENIUS TREE CUPZ YOU DORK!
Just kill me already.
Game #53 Preview