RECORDS: Avalanche 39-25-8 Hawks 30-34-9
PUCK DROP: 7:30
TV: NBCSN Chicago
REAL MEN OUT OF SNOW: Mile High Hockey
The Hawks will get some say in the bottom of the Western Conference race, or in that they can decide who they’ll gift two points in that race on most nights and greatly anger someone somewhere. Sunday they blew three leads to keep St. Louis in it (we can only hope to set up a deeper heart-cutting for the last week in April when they play twice), and though Colorado holds the 1st wild card they’re only two points from dropping completely out of it. So the Hawks can play spoiler again, a role which they’ve been particularly shit at ever since it became their calling.
Not much has changed since the Avs were here just two weeks ago. Meaning they still have the best player on the planet in current form right now, so not much else matters with them because Nathan MacKinnon will make it all ok. Since he was last here, when the Hawks miraculously held him to just one goal, he’s poured in 11 points in six games. He’s four points off the scoring lead in the NHL even though he missed eight games. He leads the league in points per game at 1.39 and if he would have played a full 82 would’ve ended up somewhere around 114 points. Quite simply he’s been freakish, so if you’re headed to the UC tonight you’ll be treated to the sight of a player playing about as well as anyone has managed in years.
And because someone has to come along for the ride, Mikko Ratanen has 11 points in his last five games as his linemate. Ratanen does more than simply stand around and let Mac K bank the puck off of him into the net, and given his size and where he shoots from his 16.4% shooting percentage might be closer to the norm for his career than just a spike. The following years will tell, but the Avs might have a budding power forward on their hands if they can introduce him to a kettlebell this summer.
Adding to the roll for Denver is that Semyon Varlamov has gotten hot, letting in only six goals in his last five appearances. Between these two, the Avs really should lock up a playoff spot no one saw coming. Their schedule is somewhat kind to them from here on out as well. They get the Hawks twice, the fading Knights twice, the Flyers at home, and then a California swing that will probably tell the tale. Those Knights games ought to be interesting, as that very well might be the first round matchup and the Avs will have the pleasure of pilfering that outfit in their first real test. It basically will come down to the Avs have MacKinnon and the Knights don’t.
And then it gets scary, because if the Avs are slung out to the Pacific and can put the knife into the false gods of Vegas, there’s really no reason they can’t beat San Jose or LA or Anaheim or whatever other dreck is left out there. The Avs in the conference final? God help us and this league is a hell toilet. Anyway, pretty impressive for a team that was supposed to be at the beginning of a rebuild. But then I guess all it takes in this league is for your #1 line to freak the fuck off and there you are, along with goaltending. We did watch the Hawks the past two years, after all.
For the Hawks, Matthew Highmore dinged himself on Sunday and is out, so they’ve called up Andreas Martinsen who can’t do anything but will run around like a meth-head for a while and pick a stupid fight and Foley and Konroyd will slather themselves in Worcester sauce over it and “DATS WUT DIS TEAM HAS BEEN MISSING ALL SEASON MY FRENT!” bullshit that already has me kicking various wood furniture around the house. After JF Berube was given the chance to grab the brass ring of backup next year and let it and Patrik Berglund’s shot through him, Anton Forsberg will get another chance to shoot his confidence in the face with a bazooka tonight.
Yeah… I don’t know. Only seven of these left after this. Also, we’ll be recording the podcast during this one, so send in your questions on Twitter during the day if you have something you want to know or just hear us bitch about .
Game #74 Preview