Hockey

at

Game Time:  6:00PM
TV/Radio: NBCSN Chicago, NHL Network, WGN-AM 720
Brass Bonanza: Canes Country

Despite largely avoiding covid-induced difficulties, it was only a matter of time before the cascading effects of the league (and world) being ravaged by the plague hit the West Side Hockey club, and as a result the back half of the straight doubleheader with the Hurricanes has been banged so that they and the Bolts can make up a previously postponed game. It’s more schedule making geniusness from the NHL brain trust, but there’s a fairly good chance that this was the least impactful way to make the games up. But this is another reason to look at winning percentages in the standings and NOT the point totals. Hint hint, the rest of the hockey observing universe. But at least everyone gets to see the Hawks against the Canes in their Reverse Retro Whalers threads this evening.

Hockey

vs.

RECORDS: Hawks 2-4-2   6-3-1

PUCK DROP: 12pm

TV: NBCSN Chicago

HE HIT THE FUCKIN’ BULL: Canes Country

Well now that the coach has laid down the gauntlet, how will his players respond? That’s the question facing the Hawks this weekend, as they face their first back-to-back of the year. They could have picked better opponents than the Carolina Hurricanes. You’ll recall that Jeremy Colliton‘s first game was against the Canes. It was 4-0 after one period. Colliton appears to be trying to reset his team’s focus. Here come the Canes again…falling on our head like a memory…

We’ll start with the Hawks, who were called out by their coach after their totally limp-dick performance against the Flyers. That saw them get one shot in the second period (but man what a shot it was!). The Hawks never created much outside Saad’s goal, and though they didn’t give up an avalanche of shots or chances, they gave away something like 143 odd-man rushes with shoddy puck management and some wayward positioning. It was ugly, and not the kind of thing the Hawks wanted to cap off their homestand with.

And the problem here is they only got one regulation win in seven games at home. That’s simply not good enough. They can argue hey were unlucky against the Caps and especially the Knights, but at the end of the day it’s about the points you got and the ones you didn’t. And the Hawks didn’t get enough of them, and now they’ll face eight of the next 12 on the road.

The most likely scenario here is the Hawks will look to have a little more verve this weekend, but that could just as easily be professional pride as much as responding to their coach whom they have debatable respect for. The real fear is that after going to the “Air Them Out In The Press” lever, what if the Hawks don’t respond at all? Well, there wouldn’t be anywhere left to go for coach Kelvin Gemstone, would there?

Because Colliton made it clear he didn’t think there was a problem with the lines, we can expect the same look to start, along with Corey Crawford in net. That doesn’t mean the lines will finish that way, because quite simply the top two lines haven’t produced enough. In the third period on Thursday we saw Brandon Saad and Dominik Kubalik shifted up to try and give both the top six lines a forecheck and puck-winner. It had some effect but not total.

One change you might see is Erik Gustafsson‘s ass seated in the pressbox for Dennis Gilbert. Gustafsson not only has been awful all season, but he’s a low-hanging target for the coach who can make an example of him without angering anyone on the team who really matters. But he might give Gus a chance to come good after a public peepee slapping.

To the Canes, who have hit something of a skid. They started the year with five straight wins, though only two were in regulation. But they’ve lost four of their last five, including to the Jackets twice and the Ducks once. Some of that is goaltending, as Petr Mrazek hasn’t given them too many saves and James Reimer has been ok.

System-wise, this is still the possession and metric monster it’s been for years, ranking second in the first category and on top in the second. You would have thought losing Justin Faulk would have harmed their possession ways, but Dougie Hamilton has been on one and Brett Pesce has used the free safety of Joel Edmundson to really accent his transition game. The Canes have been using seven D of late, with Jake Gardiner rotating in with Haydn Fleury and his missing letter along with TVR. Whoever they toss out there in the back has some serious get up and go, as they always have.

Sebastien Aho might be their only true top-liner, but as you know by now there’s a fleet of nifty, fast forwards here who don’t need a map in either end. Erik Haula has really taken to Carolina’s ways and has seven goals already. Teuvo Teravainen and Jordan Staal have been doing the same things as Kampf and Saad here, barely getting any offensive zone starts hut having metrics in the 60% range. They play fast and smart… all the things the Hawks can’t do.

The kind of effort the Hawks put forth against the Knights is going to be needed here. Which means short shifts, and your ass hair on fire when you’re on the ice. The Hawks have to be smart with the puck, which means getting it up and out of the zone as quickly as possible. Any dawdling or considering options is going to see the puck-carrier swallowed up by the quick and irritating forwards. Move it forward and move it quick.

Jeremy Colliton has played the biggest card he’s got. Let’s see if it wins him the hand.

 

Everything Else

Once again, fun loses out to evil.

There’s something about poetic about the way the Carolina Hurricanes bowed out this spring. For years, their supporters and analysts have said that if they only had a top line and a goalie, they would be a Cup contender. All their metrics pointed to a really good team of a hive mind, but they couldn’t rise above. And they were also the cudgel that the anti-analytics crowd could use to prove their covered-in-dust tenets. “Well if these mean so much,” they would belch,”why does a team like Carolina never make the playoffs?”

And for a brief moment in the sunshine there, it looked like the Hurricanes might prove them all wrong. Oh, they got there because they got goaltending for once, and Sebastien Aho played like a top-line player. While it took seven games, they were clearly better than the Capitals. They ridded the world of Trotz Plauge, and we can all be thankful for that. Could a system and style win out over what we know to be true? For all the bloated cries that hockey is the ultimate team sport, would the Canes finally be the collective to overcome the brightest lights?

And then they were thwacked by a genuine top line and a goalie. There are some truths that you can’t ever get around, and any attempt will leave you seeing stars from the back of their pimp hand.

It probably didn’t help that Mr. Game 7, Mr. Leader, Mr. Playoffs, Mr. Man Justin Williams, who invented the Storm Surge and seemed to embrace actual fun and created perhaps the most unique team atmosphere in the league, only needed to be in the same zip code as Brad Marchand to become skinny David Backes. We don’t understand Torey Krug either, but we also don’t understand an urge to crack him open on the ice to see if he’s made of bugs. Not quite the tone of a leader. Tell you what Canes, why don’t you take on Brent Seabrook to talk Williams down next time? On us.

Still, you have to admire the balls on the Canes to attempt to get out of the East with Jordan Staal as a second-line center. It’s a bar bet, and they came closer to pulling it off than you would have guessed. You can’t crash harder out of that though than him wandering into Jaccod Slavin and dislodging the puck from him like an abandoned drunk at 3AM on Clark St for the Bruins killer second goal. That was just about his biggest contribution to the series. Staal has made many millions convincing people he was more than just a checking center. He’s a magic trick. He is Kaiser Soze.

The Canes were the thumb in the eye to hockey jackasses like Don Cherry, but then fell at the worst possible hurdle, which is Cherry’s favorite Bruins who go about things “the right way.” (which means Cherry likes to lick people, so there’s an image to keep you from sleeping for a month). Now we’re doomed for another year of gloating from grunt-farters (or fart-grunters). Thanks a lot, assholes. You couldn’t have lost to a worse place, where you dismissed for having a southern accent or by beat writers somehow shocked that the local establishments, 0n Tobaccos Road mind you, would have basketball on the TVs on a non-game night. You had a chance to finally put these provincial fuckwards in their place and you whiffed. Now you’ve just added to the pile they draw from. And we’ll all pay.

The problem with being what stands for all that is righteous, fun, and good in hockey is that not only are you doomed to fail (except for Ovechkin once), but your shelf-life is akin to a butterfly’s. Next year, as the Canes struggle to come up with more celebrations for wins among the group 7th-grade education hockey players have, they’ll be increasingly met with eye-rolls instead of chuckles. They’re “Bunch Of Jerks” shirts will go from ironic to a statement of fact to an increasing amount of people. Nothing lasts in the NHL, especially fun, because that means you either have a brain or don’t eat bricks in the summer getting ready for another season.

It’s all there for the Canes, of course. They’re a fun, young team that just made a run and should be an attractive destination for anyone. You may think Raleigh, N.C. isn’t a place players want to go, but lucky for the Canes it’s less of a shit-kicker town than where most of these dumbasses grow up. If you don’t think it compares favorably with Swift Current or Kitchener, then you must be a Canadian hockey writer. A goalie, a top-line player or two and the world would be theirs. They could be what the Predators have told us they are for years but actually aren’t.

Sadly, the Canes have as big of a shithead owner as you can, who folded up an entire football league and then when anyone asked pulled the, “What league?” defense. There’s also Don Waddell, whose previous GM stint went so well the team up and moved away from the city in order to lose him. Between Thomas Dundon (how amazing is it that his name is the exact same sound as the organ beat when evil descends?) and Waddell bashing their heads into a wall I think we all see a Brian Boyle signing coming.

So fare thee well to our dearest, sweetest boy and his companion. As always, you were too good for this world. At least your current team won’t trade you for not spending the offseason in Carolina.

Everything Else

@Section328 are the hardcore in PNC Arena in Raleigh. They took off their facepaint long enough to answer our questions.

Let’s start with Scott Darling. Why hasn’t it worked out this season? And are the Canes going to  give up on him or try again next season?
Great question. It truly seems like a confidence issue. We’ve seen Darling play some really solid games, but on more nights than we care to remember, he’d let in a soft or questionable goal, then it’s all downhill from there. His contract isn’t a total albatross, but with a new owner, we wouldn’t be shocked if they completely cut bait. We’d like to see him get another crack at it with another full offseason to prepare.
With Slavin and Pesce taking the hardest assignments, shouldn’t Justin Faulk be a little more of an offensive weapon seeing second-pairing minutes? Is this why he occasionally pops up in trade rumors?
You’d think so, right? Let’s just say he pops up in trade rumors more often than he’s an all-star defenseman worthy of being a captain of this team. We’re looking back at the rumor from a couple years ago of a trade centered around Justin Faulk and Taylor Hall with great sadness.
What’s the feeling about Bill Peters? We’ve always liked him, the Canes always have some of the best underlying numbers in the league no matter where they are in the standings, but at some point it he has to get a team to the playoffs, right?
We’ve always liked him too. He’s as Albertan as the day is long, but we feel he’s taken this team as far as he can. Every coach has their favorite players, but why Bill Peters insists on giving Derek Ryan featured minutes and Jeff Skinner is playing with Lee Stempniak and Phil DiGuiseppe is totally beyond us. Maybe Derek Ryan has some kind of incriminating photos of the coach?
His system is stifling the offensive creativity of guys like Aho, Skinner, and Teuvo The defense, while still good, hasn’t improved. If there’s not hockey here in late April, it’s time to part ways.
Ok…fine… we put it off long enough…tell us how much you love Our Special Boy. 
Joakim Nordstrom?
He’s alright. OHHHH, you mean Taco Tuesday, Torso Tonguepunch, Teuvo Teravainen. Yea, we like him a lot, and we’d like to keep him for a very long time. Thanks for paying Toews $10.5 million until we believe 2033 so that we could have him. That’s very thoughtful of you guys!
Given the blue line, and the style of play, can the Canes make the playoffs and at least throw a scare into a top seed? Or will the goaltending and a lack of scoring punch keep them from both?
If we had to place a bet today, it wouldn’t be on the Canes making the postseason. That being said, we think this team would fare better in a seven game series than it would in any seven games against different teams. They play a “playoff-style” game already for whatever that’s worth, and we’re still waiting to see Jeff Skinner in a playoff game. But in the playoffs, you want a number one goalie to carry you to the promised land. Right now we don’t have that, we just have Cam Ward playing in perpetuity.

 

Game #68 Preview

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

Fitting after doing Toronto yesterday (and boy are our hips and hamstrings sore!), we move to the Metro Division and start with a team that might be Toronto minus one or two years, and somewhat doing it in reverse. The Carolina Hurricanes certainly have the blue line of a true contender. Now they’ve added at worst a representative goalie. The question is do they have the hosses up front to make some noise in the East’s tougher division? And is Teuvo Teravainen the best Hurricane right now? Or the best one ever?

Carolina Hurricanes

’16-’17 Record: 36-31-15  87 points (7th in the Metro)

Team Stats: 51.1 CF% (6th)  50.4 SF% (16th)  50.7 SCF% (13th)  7.3 SH% (2oth) .912 SV% (29th)

Special Teams: 17.7 PP% (21st)  84.2 PK % (6th)

Everything Else

 vs. 

RECORDS: Hawks 23-10-5  Canes 15-12-7

PUCK DROP: 6:30 pm 

TV: WGN

HE HIT THE FUCKIN’ BULL, DIDN’T HE?: Canes Country

PROJECTED LINEUPS

ADJUSTED TEAM CORSI %: Hawks – 49.5 (16th)  Canes – 52.8 (5th)

ADJUSTED TEAM xGF%: Hawks – 47.0 (26th)  Canes – 53.6 (6th)

POWER PLAY %: Hawks -19.2 (14th)  Canes – 20.4 (10th)

PENALTY KILL %: Hawks – 74.8 (29th)  Canes – 90.6 (1st)

TRENDS: Teuvo and Aho combined for 11 shots against the Penguins on Wednesday… The Canes rang up a 67% Corsi in Pittsburgh last out

The title is something my friend who wrestles in Chikara told me once. I think it applies to most things.

The last game of 2016 and the last of the two-game swing through NASCAR country comes up for the Hawks tonight. They arrested their small skid last night, averting something a little more definitive, and will attempt to head into West East St. Louis with a little momentum (assuming this Winter Classic actually ever gets played, which it might not).

Everything Else

whalers vs oldschool

Game Time: 7:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Southern Culture On The Skids: Canes Country

With the deadline now passed earlier this afternoon, the Hawks now have their team going forward, at least until Patrick Kane gets healthy. Two of the three Hawks acquisitions will make their debuts tonight against a Carolina fresh off unloading more players in the middle in their seemingly never ending rebuild.