Everything Else

 vs. 

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

PUCK DROP: 6:30

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

THEY MAKE PORNO MOVIES THAT START THAT WAY TOO: Winging It In Motown

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.

#EndHockey

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

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

 vs 

RECORDS: Detroit 21-27-7   Hawks 22-24-9

PUCK DROP: 2:00PM CST
TV/RADIO: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
JUGGALO HOMIES: Winging It In Motown

 

If there has been one schadenfraude-drenched upside to the last two years of the Hawks tripping over their own dicks at every conceivable juncture, it’s that the Red Wings have been equally inept, if not more so. Yes, most of the old wounds have healed, as silver tends to do that, particularly when eliminating them on the way to one, but anyone looking for emotional maturity has clearly been reading the wrong publication for over a decade now.

Entering today’s matinee, the Wings sit 14 points back of a wild card spot with a month and a half to play, essentially left for dead in the Eastern conference they so desperately wanted to play in. Just yesterday they lost another afternoon tilt in Buffalo, their second straight. One of the lone bright spots for the Wings has been Jimmy Howard, who’s had a bit of a renaissance this season with a .914 overall and an excellent .930 at evens, his best since the aforementioned abbreviated 2013 season, but he went yesterday in Buffalo. That means that Jonathan Bernier is likely to get the start today, and suffice it to say that Bernier is a step down from Howard, boasting an .898 overall and a .900 at evens. Even with goaltending taking a downturn league-wide, that’s still not enough from a backup.

In front of Bernier is a blue line that is somehow even more barren and desolate a wasteland than the Hawks. With no morning skate today, based on yesterday in Buffalo, the Wings will be trotting out a top pairing of Niklas Kronwall and Mike Green with a straight face in 2019, not 2009. Kronwall was always overrated and dirty, and now he’s lost more than a step and a half at 38 years old. Mike Green could probably still make a decent living as a third pairing bum slayer and power play quarterback, but he’s always been an adventure in his own zone and he can’t outscore those problems anymore. Danny DeKeyser is never going to be anything more than “a guy” no matter what the drunk dick from Perth Amboy at the bar shouts, and Jonathan Ericsson makes Seabrook look downright nimble these days. Unfortunately, Trevor Daley is hurt so he won’t be able to be recognized on the UC jumbotron during the first TV timeout.

Up front for the Wings, there are some decent pieces, but it’s just simply not enough now, particularly in the wake of Henrik Zetterberg‘s retirement. Dylan Larkin is the de facto #1 center right now, flanked by two of the worst contracts in the game in Justin Abdelkader and Gustav Nyquist. Larkin hasn’t quite grown into a true #1 yet, but he’s producing nearly a point per game (51P in 53 games) and certainly has all the talent to put it together by the time the Wings think they’ll be competitive again, and he’s still not even 23. Frans Nielsen centers the second line which features a somehow still employed Thomas Vanek back for a second tour of duty in Detroit (because the first time went so well) and Anthony Mantha on the other side, appears to basically be a Quebecois Hayes brother, providing 20 useless goals a season from a giant frame that intimidates no one. One of the best nicknames in the league and one of the fastest sets of wheels, Greece Lighning, Andreas Athanasiou continues to languish on the third line with known bums Luke Glendening and Darren “Ambulance 43” Helm. The Red Wings also have a fourth line.

As for the Men of Four Feathers, Thursday night marked their sixth win in a row, which no one is sure if it means a goddamn thing yet. They did so giving up 40 shots to the equally putrid Canucks and had to get to the bullshit that is 3-on-3 to decide things. But points are points, considering that A) this draft isn’t that deep past Jack Hughes, and B) the league is going to rig that he plays for his home town team anyway, which just happens to be the Hawks’ opponent today. The one thing that continues to hum along for the Hawks is the power play, and fortunately the Wings’ PK is only marginally better than the Hawks’, though Jonathan Bernier has been relatively respectable on the kill with an .883 save percentage.

Lines from Saturday’s skate appeared the same as the last game, but it was notable that Corey Crawford briefly took the ice and partook in team drills if only for about 20 minutes sharing a net with Collin Delia, which would seem to indicate that Cam Ward would get the start. What a time to be alive.

The Hawks didn’t get any favors from the Blues on Thursday or the Wild yesterday, but it’s still too goddamn early to be scoreboard watching in that regard. A tank is basically out of the question at this point, and it’s better for the players already on this roster to develop by winning, particularly against eminently beatable teams such as this Scum bunch. Take care of business. Seven is better than six.

Game #56 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

This isn’t even fun anymore.

Ever since I was a child, I longed for the day when the Detroit Red Wings would be a flaming shit heap sliding into that river that is also a flaming shit heap and could leave us the hell alone forever. It took close to 20 goddamn years, and for them to flee to the inferior conference at the time so they could hold onto their precious, meaningless playoff streak for two more years like some nine-year-old who still has a fucking binky, but it happened. Ever since their move to the Eastern Conference so their eight fans who actually live in Detroit and not here wouldn’t have to stay up past lights out at West Shoreline, they have been irrelevant. Their GM has been shown to be perhaps the luckiest fraud on the face of the Earth. No one wants to go to their shiny new arena that their supposed “hero” bilked them out of hundreds of millions of dollars they didn’t have to build and then not go to. They’re actively awful, and everyone knows it. They’ve become what they derided us for being for so long. The rebuild will go forever because they’ll never fire Ken Holland and he just keeps smiling that diluted, in-0ver-his-head grin at the press and everyone assumes everything is fine. It’s not. This team sucks and will for a very long time.

But now…we’ve all moved on. With Henrik Zetterberg likely to never play again, this might be the worst team in the league. They could seriously give the Senators a run for their money. Good God, Thomas Vanek is going to be on the top line, and Thomas Vanek stopped being able to move three years ago. They might get the #1 pick…no, scratch that, the NHL WILL rig it to give them the #1 pick to gift wrap them Jack Hughes because Bettman still thinks he needs the Red Wings for the league to be successful. And then Holland will trade it for the negotiating rights to Max Pacioretty two weeks before he hits the market. This is beyond taking candy from a baby. This is beating your toddler at Madden 142-0 and then punting him out the window without feeling one way or the other about it.

Let’s go through this and see if we still feel.

Goalies: Somehow, Jimmy Howard is still here, despite being in trade rumors since he was in the 3rd grade (the height of his education, like 75% of the players in the league). This is also the last year of that contract that made no sense, but don’t you worry, Ol’ Six-Gun Holland will extend him for $7 million a year until 2048 if he has a good October. Just you fucking watch. Howard was pretty putrid last year, only putting up a .910 and a .916 at evens, but he was playing behind nothing. Or at least that’s what you’d think except the Wings were middle of the pack when it came to attempts and chances against. Jimmy Howard is just there. He’s a billboard on the expressway. You use him to identify where you are as long as you’re going somewhere else hurriedly. Like that Magikist one by the Fullerton entrance on the Kennedy for decades.

Anyway, he’s going to be backed up by Jonathan Bernier, whom Holland signed for three years for some reason. Perhaps he sees him taking the starting role when Howard’s deal is up next year and can serve out the remaining years of this rebuild that’s only working in Holland’s head. I have no idea. But you don’t sign Jonathan Bernier for more than one year. It’s the “Mr. Pussy”  corollary from season 1 of Sex And The City. You don’t date Mr. Pussy. You take him for as long as you need service and then you release him back into the world. Fuck, why do I even know this? This is Jamie Benn‘s favorite reference we’ve ever made.

Defense: Jesus H. Christ, do not look too closely at this half-assed Boccioni of death. This team is still trying to make Danny DeKeyser happen. IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. They re-signed Mike Green out of pity, I guess. Niklas Kronwall is here to tell you about the onion on his belt. Trevor Daley. My lord people, Trevor Daly in the top four, possibly top pairing. Trevor Daley only exists for people who huff paint to yell at Mark Lazerus. What is this? I don’t even know what this is supposed to be. They don’t have one fucking kid who can crack this lineup? Oh right, there’s a Chelios descendant here who I assume they signed before he went to jail for beating up some college kid in a bar fight he most definitely started because the kid was reading at the bar. This is some rebuild, Ken.

Forwards: More public transit puke. Dylan Larkin slides up to take the #1 center role. Hey did you know he’s from the area and went to Michigan? I bet you didn’t because it’s not like they tell you that every eight seconds!  He’s a child of Datsyuk! He probably hates gay people too! Gustav Nyquist is riding shotgun to score 20-25 goals that absolutely could not matter less. They shipped off Tomas Tatar but I’m assuming he’s still somehow here because we had to hear about how he’d revolutionize the sport for 12 years in the minors before he came up to the Wings to do a whole lot of not much. Hey, same for Tomas Jurco, come to think of it! There’s still a fucking Bertuzzi here. They’ve already drafted his sperm sample. I guess I’m supposed to think Anthony Mantha is a thing, I don’t. Andreas Athanasiou (I can’t wait another day….), or Andreas Anathasiou because I assure you it doesn’t make a difference, moves to center after the Wings tried to fuck him over with his contract last year. He’s really fast…and that’s it. Someone should have told them they didn’t need another Darren Helm because the old one is still here (now with detachable hips!). Evgeny Svechnikov is going to be on the top line by Halloween, and if he isn’t it’s only because the Wings are still trying to make everyone think they “overcook” their prospects when in fact all their prospects just sucked. Seriously, there are maybe two 20-goal scorers here. This team might not score 200 goals this year.

Outlook: Horrid. Their only hope is that they’re so terrible they finally fire Holland and find a GM worth a shit, except no NHL team ever does that they just hire some red-faced jackwagon who picked his head up off the hotel bar at the Stanley Cup Final long enough to say yes. They’ll make big noise about luring Yzerman back home, he’ll take one look at that roster and pipeline and laugh so hard he’ll tear an abductor. They should make Holland and Ottawa’s Dorion slug it out for Hughes. Or better yet, rig the pick to the Hawks after McDonough threatens Bettman with something. This team is going to suck out loud, to the point where you won’t even enjoy it. Even hearing their name will cause a giant, “UGGGHHH!” Wait for the excuses to why their arena dedicated to pizza that tastes like despair is 1/4 full for both the Pistons and Wings.

Khalil Mack is going to Scorpion overrated fraud Matthew Stafford and then chuck his giant moon-face into Comerica Park between the two broadcasters who are so miserable watching the Tigers they’re fighting each other. How Detroit is that?

Previous Team Previews

Buffalo Sabres

Boston Bruins

Everything Else

 at 

Game Time: 6:30 CST
TV/Radio: NBCSN (Chicago & National), WGN-AM 720
Mom’s Spaghetti: Winging It In Motown 

With the homestand that spanned the the bye week now sufficiently flushed down the crapper, the Hawks hit the road again for their inaugural visit to Little Caesar’s Palace in Detroit, or The House That $5 Hot and Readies Built, to face the Red Wings for something that is supposed to vaguely resemble a rivalry.

Everything Else

I’ll let you in on a little secret. There was a massive brawl here at the Lab over who got to do the Detroit Red Wings preview. After all the shit we had to eat for a decade or more from this Packers fanbase-gone-wrong, and even with all the depression daily life brings these days, the fact that the Wings have cast themselves into hockey oblivion/purgatory will keep the blood pumping through my veins for much longer than logic would suggest. It’s not just that they’re bad. They can’t even be bad correctly. This is a team that desperately needs to bottom out, after all they don’t even have a doddering old owner to placate anymore, and yet is chasing one of its few promising young players off to Russia. Sometimes I still wake up giggling that all the players that every pundit like Pierre McGuire promised us were the “next generation” simply because they were Wings basically amounted to two shooting-percentage spike seasons from Gustav Nyquist. Now everyone is seeing that Ken Holland might just have gotten lucky with a couple late round picks and a completely open checkbook from Mike Illitch when there was no cap. And people, it’s replacing oxygen as my life force. Let’s do this:

Detroit Red Wings

2016-2017 Record: 33-36-13  70 points  7th in the Flortheast which meant…

THEIR BULLSHIT PLAYOFF STREAK THEY HAD TO FLEE TO THE EAST TO KEEP GOING IS DEAD AND EVERY ANALYST IN THE NHL HAD TO CUT THEMSELVES LIVE ON AIR! JUST HOOK IT TO MY FUCKING VEINS!

Team Stats 5v5: 48.2 CF%  (24th)  48.3 SF% (24th)  48.9 SCF% (20th)  7.8 SH% (12th)  91.7 SV% (24th)  15.0 PP% (27th)  80.8 PK% (16th)

Everything Else

Editor’s Note: This ran in last night’s print edition.

Now in year seven of the Joel Quenneville era of Blackhawks Renaissance, the Hawks actually find themselves in slightly uncharted territory. Not only is this the first time that they have been past the first round for three straight years in the post-expansion era, but the Hawks are trying to eliminate the same team three straight years for the first time ever, with their most recent opportunity having been thwarted by  Alex Burrows and Chris Campoli.

Everything Else

AltLogo at 3ec3960d0a1f1aacf42839c40e09d2a5_400x400

Game Time: 6:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Mom’s Spaghetti: Winging It In Motown, Abel To Yzerman

And so it begins anew. Not so much the Original Six rivalry that mostly evaporated prior to the Wings finally getting their wish and moving to the Eastern Conference, but more the lamentation of that move and the longing for a rivalry that never really lived up to its own billing in the last 25 years in the first place save for a couple of blips on the radar, and one very emphatic punctuation mark ending it in 2013.  Now, a visit to Detroit is just another date on the calendar, and the only time the Hawks will visit the husk of the Joe this year.

Everything Else

galactic_empire_emblem vs rebel-small

Game Time: 6:30PM Central
TV/Radio: NBCSN, TSN2, WGN-AM 720
Mos Eisley Cantina: Winging It In Motown, Abel to Yzerman

For the first time since Game 7 last may, the Red Wings will visit United Center ice. Between then and now, more than a couple events of note have happened, including the Wings’ long-awaited move to the Eastern Confrence so that the people of Detroit don’t have to stay up late watching their team and risk not being on time the next morning for the jobs they don’t have.

Everything Else

oldschool @ scum hatchet

Game Time: 7:00PM CDT
TV/Radio: NBCSN, TSN2, WGN-AM 720
I Wanna Be Your Dog: Winging It In Motown, Abel to Yzerman

It’s been nearly eight months since the Hawks last saw the Detroit Red Wings, giving them the finest farewell from the conference and division possible in the form of a Game 7 OT winner courtesy of Brent Seabrook. After which Scum at last got their wish of moving to the eastern conference so that their sleep deprived fans could at least see them at a reasonable hour. How fitting then that tonight the proceedings with their one-time rival won’t even kick off until 8:00PM local time to accomodate the viewership here in Chicago even on home ice. The indignities never cease, do they?

Everything Else

oldschool @ scum hatchet

Game Time: 7:00PM CDT
TV/Radio: NBCSN, TSN2, WGN-AM 720
I Wanna Be Your Dog: Winging It In Motown, Abel to Yzerman

It’s been nearly eight months since the Hawks last saw the Detroit Red Wings, giving them the finest farewell from the conference and division possible in the form of a Game 7 OT winner courtesy of Brent Seabrook. After which Scum at last got their wish of moving to the eastern conference so that their sleep deprived fans could at least see them at a reasonable hour. How fitting then that tonight the proceedings with their one-time rival won’t even kick off until 8:00PM local time to accomodate the viewership here in Chicago even on home ice. The indignities never cease, do they?