As this death march of a season mercifully draws ever closer, the Hawks find themselves out for one last swing through the West in order to play two completely meaningless games bookending a game that really only serves schadenfraude purposes.
RECORDS: Hawks 27-28-9 Kings 23-33-8
PUCK DROP: 3:00PM CST
TV/RADIO: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network, WGN-AM 720
PLEASE NO MORE CALIFORNIA SONGS: JFTC
How the mighty have fallen. It’s a cliche, but given the matchup between these two former titans, it’s applicable. And while the Hawks are threatening to make a useless playoff appearance this year as the Kings did the previous season, the opponent they find for themselves today has no such delusions of grandeur.
At the start of today’s games, the Kings find themselves with the second worst point total in the league, and dead last in the Western Conference, with only the fetid corpse of the Ottawa Senators providing the buffer between them and the dirt. The problems for this team has remained constant even coming from the salad days, where their team offense is 30th in the league, but only this time there hasn’t been any defense and goaltending to bail them out. Age and workload and everything else has caught up with Jonathan Quick, whose .891 overall save percentage (.905 at evens) wouldn’t even be good enough on a team that boasted some high octane offense on occasion, and he need look no further than the squad in white today as proof of that. Quick is now 33, and his contract will take him until he’s 37, so if this is the rate of decline that Rob Blake and the Kings are going to have to live with, it’s not going to get any better anytime soon. But rest assured, despite Rob Blake not being able to make a solid transaction to save his life, much like he couldn’t ably perform any of his other post playing career duties, he’ll somehow manage to get promoted to executive VP or some shit, because that’s just what happens to Rob Blake.
In front of Quick the Kings’ blue line is still anchored by accused rapist Drew Doughty, whose play has also completely fallen off the table. While he’s still taking assignments in any and every situation as a true #1, he has not been able to flip the ice this season as in years past, and only has one goal all year for his troubles. The latter is a bit of bad luck, and now with longtime partner Jake Muzzin gone he’s dragging around Derek Forbort, but if this is the new standard with his new contract kicking in at $11 mildo per NEXT year for the maximum 8 year term, the Kings are going to have to hope he rebounds at 30, and again, ask the guy wearing the XXXXXXL #7 sweater on the other bench how well that works out. With this season lost, the Kings are not at least trying to get a look at whatever they’ve got in their barren prospect cupboard, particularly with Alec Martinez hurt, so people named Kurtis MacDermid, Sean Walker, and Matt Roy are rounding out the bottom two pairings along with the overrated corpse of Dion Phaneuf.
Up front, Anze Kopitar hasn’t been able to repeat his career year which saw him gain a Hart Trophy finalist nod primarily because no one else on the Kings was scoring last year. Well now Kopitar has backslid to what his usual numbers had been, but no one else on the Kings has picked up any of the slack. Yes, it’s completely shocking that a 36 year old Ilya Kovalchuk has been a giant floaty turd on a team going nowhere, and he also has four more years left on his deal. No one on the Kings has more than 20 goals, which is probably most shocking from Jeff Carter, but again, the miles have more than likely caught up with him. Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis are still here, and it’d be easy to point and laugh about being permanently attached to 4th liners, but Marcus Kruger is still getting paid fairly nicely on the other side.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, this is an absolute must-have game in regulation if they’re going to continue to delude themselves and everyone else that they’re still vying for a playoff spot. The Nuclear Option of Saad, Toews, and Garbage Dick returns with The Drake now concussed, making the Hawks’ forward group even more top heavy. But again, if they’re going to do this, it’s not going to be because John Hayden and Wide Dick Artie are going to start dominating from the third line. And given that there’s no fathomable combination of defensive pairings that are going to slow anyone down, even this Nerf gun Kings offense, there’s no reason not to lean on the proven weapons they’ve got. Any run is also going to require solid goaltending from the likely still dizzy Corey Crawford, who in all likelihood will go tomorrow night in Silicon Valley, leaving Cam Ward to hopefully not shit his pants this afternoon. It’s a big ask, but he provides veteran leadership and and big game experience so hopefully he’s up for it.
When these two played at the UC back in November the Hawks were just getting acclimated to Coach Rod Belding and the game was an unwatchable slog. According to Stan Bowman, the team is still learning his system, which apparently must be like learning Sanskrit given the on ice results in the defensive zone. While the Hawks have at least become some form of black comedic fun since then, the vultures have continued to pick at the Kings, but afternoon hockey is the great equalizer and almost always results in shitty play and shitty ice conditions, so expect the same this afternoon. Regardless of that, if this team wants to convince itself it should be playing past game 82, beating the worst team in the West is nothing short of mandatory. Let’s go Hawks.
Game #65 Preview Suite
Game Time: 3:00PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network, WGN-AM 720
Harboring A Fugitive: JFTC
After getting their dicks thoroughly knocked in the dirt in the Bay Area on Thursday night, the Hawks make their way south to face the Kings on Figueroa, bringing this fetid garbage season one game closer to mercifully ending.
Game Time: 7:30 CST
TV/Radio: WGN Ch. 9 (Local), NHLN-US, TVAS, SportsNet, WGN-AM 720
Fountain & Fairfax: JFTC
How the mighty have fallen. Half of the Stanley Cups in the last decade belong to these two franchises, one in danger of missing the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, and the other literally all but officially eliminated in February. And even while no one else in the league’s heart is breaking for either of these two franchises led by scumbag braintrusts, the Hawks will welcome the Kings to the United Center tonight out of obligation if not urgency.
As the Freakout Hell Bus Ride of 5 games in 7 nights comes to a close on West Madison tonight, the Hawks are looking to avoid losing their fourth straight game after having gone 1-1-2 so far, with the resurgent Kings now waiting for them as the capper.
And so now we move west, young men and women to the hellhole that is known as the Pacific Division. Once the place where Vancouver collected 100 points by merely having a pulse, the division has seen a bit of a makeover since realignment. The Kings, Ducks and Sharks have all taken turns setting the coast on fire while Canada weeps. Where does this year leave us? Follow the jump, suckas.
On paper, it’s surprising that what’s become very clear as the vocal majority of Hawks fans aren’t more nakedly jealous of Kings fans. With basically an equal amount of success as the Hawks, Kings fans have been able to enjoy the organization from management to players being unrepentant pieces of since the summer of 2012 (when Drew Doughty was also accused of sexual assault and no one even to this day still seems to give a shit about) without having to mansplain themselves to Social Justice Warriors out to ruin the good times of white men everywhere.
Whether that’s a function of no one giving a fuck about the Kings on a national level even after winning two of the last four cups and leading their division for most of this year, or that Kings fans as a whole merely think it’s funny when it happens to other people without the slightest bit of self-reflection, their loyalty remains largely unquestioned to this point. The option of being able to enjoy their shit SPORTS franchise in uninterrupted complacency without being made to ask larger questions is certainly an option most would take.
Well, you can’t say they didn’t have it coming. All night long the Kings played with the Hawks like a cat plays with…I hate cats what do they play with? Rodent carcasses? The dead bodies of their owners?
If you asked me to sum up that game in four words it’d be “Kero on Toews’ wing” which is a real thing that happened after Seabrook’s gaffe allowed the Kings to tie the game late in the third.
Tonight the Hawks will conclude their annual November two-week displacement from the United Center at the hands of Sirs Barnum and Bailey on Figueroa against the Kings, who are taking a novel approach to their regular season by at least cultivating the image that they give a shit about it. But much like their visiting counterparts, they still do not give a shit about women or human decency.
The Kings and Blackhawks have one of the modern NHL’s true great rivalries, with the two teams alternating Stanley Cup titles over the last four years. But their competitiveness with one another extends to off the ice issues.
While last year’s Hawks team was clouded by rumors and innuendo of off-ice misdoings, the Kings came right out in the open with it by having both the now departed Jarret Stoll and Mike Richards arrested separately for drug possession. And that’s on top of Slava Voynov being essentially convicted and deported for beating the shit out of his wife. However, in a seemingly unending game of one-upsmanship, the Hawks’ highest profile player made himself the subject of a sexual assault investigation, something the Kings were familiar with three years ago with Drew Doughty. But where the case against Doughty was largely forgotten and evaporated through strongarming the victim, Kane was removed from a video game cover and is still under investigation.
It wasn’t just limited to the players, either. After Dean Lombardi allowed Slava Voynov to skate with the team while suspended because he felt like he needed it, John McDonough basically undid a career of evil public relations genius with a single ass-showing press conference at the haven of progressive sexual politics and scandal-free placidity that is Notre Dame. But these are competitive men who have helmed these teams to near dynastic levels of on ice success, and Dean Lombardi was not going to go quietly into the night. Upon reaching an even more dubious settlement after his evil outright termination of Mike Richards’ contract, Lombardi literally shed tears over how he was duped and how wronged he felt by Mike Richards’ addictive spiral with pain killers, as if the bullshit tough guy culture of the sport didn’t basically strong arm him into using them to keep himself on the ice. Lombardi did not feel wronged or duped by Slava Voynov’s violence towards women however, and still holds’ Voynov’s rights should he ever be allowed in the US again, at the very least preventing him from playing for another team.
Even the fans get into the act as well. Whereas Kings fans initially just spouted typical victim-blaming vomit (serious trigger warning), or in the case of most fan-run outlets just forget in the face of Stanley Cups and Norris finalist campaigns about Drew Doughty’s misdoings, Hawks fans took things to another level. Staging rallies, organizing Twitter hashtags, threatening sports radio anchors to the point of calling out of work, or demanding apologies (that are never, ever, EVER fucking coming), they’ve taken the empty-souled fanboy routine to dizzying new heights.
And now with the first meeting of these two teams happening tonight at the United Center, everyone on both sides is surely breathless with anticipation with what the next step in this rivalry will be.