As was stated a couple of weeks ago, it’s going to be a different approach this season with regards to previews and wraps, in part due to logistics and in part due to this franchise exhausting all but the last quark of patience around here both on and off the ice. Whille dodging and mishandling their most recent sex scandal, the Hawks decided to revamp their roster and double down on their idiot himbo coach, because apparently Duncan Keith wasn’t big enough or fast enough to run his SYSTEM, and he’s never had an NHL caliber roster before in four Magic Training Camps. Enter the reluctantly vaccinated Jones Brothers and Marc-Andre Fleury, along with Jonathan Toews’ return from Havana Syndrome or whatever, and the Hawks are primed to miss out on the playoffs yet again while the hemorrhage chances and pray Fleury puts up the Vezina numbers he did under a coach who actually works to supress shots in Peter DeBoer in Vegas. Time to get FIRED UP.
10/13 At Colorado
Game Time: 9:00PM CST
TV/Radio: TNT, WGN-AM 720
Epic Day Pass: Mile High Hockey
The big news out of Denver is that perennial Hart candidate and complete dietary psychopath Nathan MacKinnon will miss tonight and at least a couple other games in Covid protocol after testing positive yesterday. With the league’s claims of a 98% vaccination rate it seems like it’s just a temporary thing and that he’s asymptomatic, but given the reports in the NFL of faked vaccine documentation and Evander Kane’s most recent investigation being for trying to procure one, that percentage seems dubious. Even without MacKinnon, and Brandon Saad leaving for St. Louis, there’s still more than enough firepower to tear this Hawks defensive zone limb from limb. Philipp Grubauer has gone to Seattle, with Darcy Keumper now entrusted to backstop a team with actual aspirations instead of succeeding in obscurity in the Arizona, what’s left of the Kings, and whatever Minnesota was attempting for years. His counterpart in Fleury is going to have to be at the absolute top of his game, particularly on the PK, considering the Hawks just flat out forgot to work on it during the preseason.
10/15 At New Jersey
Game Time: 6:00PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network, TVA-S, WGN-AM 720
The Many Saints of Newark: All About The Jersey
From a mile above sea level to below it in the Meadowlands, the Hawks jump two time zones in well less than 48 hours to play the Devils and see their new toy in Dougie Hamilton, the second biggest blue line acquisition this off season behind the Hawks and Jones. What Dougie brings to this team that gets them out of their transitional phase is anyone’s guess, as it’s all going to hinge on Jack Hughes taking the leap to being the #1 overall franchise defining pick he was supposed to be. Their other big acquisitions were Tomas Tatar now plaining for his 78th team in 5 years and Jonathan Bernier being given the 1A job for reasons. Apparently Tyler Dellow likes players from bad Wings teams over the past 8 years. Given that this is the front end of a back to back, it would not be surprising to see Lankinen start.
10/16 At Pittsburgh
Game Time: 6:00PM
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network, WGN-AM 720
The Chilliest of Willies: PensBurgh
So the Pens had the “honor” of being the visitors on hand for the banner raising ceremony in Tampa, their second this calendar year, which is truly a weird feat. And as is often the case, the Bolts weren’t exactly fully engaged given the delayed start and all the pomp and circumstance it entails (if anyone remembers those sorts of things around here anymore). Even without Sid and Geno for quite a bit, the Penguins jumped out to a 3-0 lead and then things started getting wacky with empty netters in the final minutes to make things 6-3 when all was said and done. And despite the ESPN broadcast’s best attempts to turn him into a conquering hero, and no matter how tough his struggle against leukemia was or how nice a guy he might be, Brian Boyle is a 36 year old obelisk who in no way shape or form comes close in his wettest dreams to providing what even mid 30s Sid and Geno do. Same for Jeff Carter, who despite having 2 rings and was a key member of another finalist might be getting into Who Gives A Shit territory now as well. Tristan Jarry is still who the hopes and dreams in net are pinned on despite all evidence stating that that is folly, and this era might finally be coming to a close in western PA. But this is still a well coached team capable of playing hard and exploiting mistakes even when outgunned as they proved last night. And even if the Hawks will have more firepower on paper than the Pens, it’s not nearly as much as the Bolts have, and they were able to do so on the road without the benefit of matchups. Look for Flower to get this game given his history in the building.