Hockey

vs

Game Time: 7:00PM CDT
TV/Radio: NBC, CBC, SportsNet, WGN-AM 720
Where’s All The Stolen Liquor, Danny Ocean? Did You Hide It Up Your Butt?: SinBinKnights On Ice

With the series now “shifting” to the Hawks having home ice tonight and tomorrow, it offers them a chance to claw back into the series after going down two games to none on Thursday night, squandering an opportunity after forcing overtime against the much faster Knights. This of course, operates under the assumption that the Blackhawks have a competent coach who will utilize his ability to free up his top players with last change, which they absolutely do not have.

Everything Else

@ItWasThreeZero followed us home one day. We fed him at the back door of the building. He won’t leave us alone. We figure we can at least use him to get Sharks info. 

Three points behind the Flames isn’t where the Sharks were supposed to be. Everything metrically looks great, so is their lack of taking off simply down to Martin Jones?

 A lot of it is. It’s hard to win games when your starting goalie is throwing up a sub-.900 SV% for the majority of the season. That said the Sharks are also top third in the league at yielding high-danger scoring chances so they haven’t been doing Jones or Aaron Dell many favors. The team adopted a higher-risk, higher-reward style of play in the middle of last season in response to Vegas’ success and while it’s made them infinitely more bearable to watch than the previous iteration of Peter DeBoer hockey, it’s also resulted in giving up quite a few more five-alarm chances. Still, it’s not unreasonable to expect Jones to at least be within striking distance of league average and once he starts trending in that direction the Sharks theoretically have the offense, possession numbers and penalty killing to run away with the division.

Is it really worth complaining about Erik Karlsson, as some have done, when he’s got 21 points and appears to be driving the play as he always has?

 Nah. Karlsson has clearly been the team’s best overall player to anyone watching the games and controls the pace of play every time he’s on the ice. What is concerning is that, over a third of the way through the season, the coaching staff still hasn’t quite figured out how to use him. They’ve paired Karlsson with Brenden Dillon at even strength despite how dominant the pairing of Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic was to start the season. They haven’t figured out how to best combine Karlsson and Brent Burns’ talents on a single power play unit, often having Kevin Labanc quarterback the struggling man advantage instead. Then they turn around and throw arguably the two most offensively dynamic defensemen in the league out there together in bizarre situations, like on the penalty kill or a defensive zone faceoff. I don’t think the Sharks are a serious Cup contender until the coaches can figure out how to get the most out of Karlsson.

Meanwhile, Joe Thornton is average a near career-low in points per game. Just getting that old? Reason to worry?

 2018-19 is in all likelihood the Joe Thornton Farewell Tour so by those standards he’s been surprisingly effective. It helps that the Sharks haven’t really needed him to be more than a third-line center and occasional contributor on the power play and he’s played both of those roles admirably. Really the only goal with him is ensuring he’s healthy for the playoffs after missing the majority of the last two postseasons due to knee injuries.

What’s up with Timo Meier‘s breakout?

 Meier has always put up an insane shot rate going back to junior hockey and has taken that strategy to a new level this season. He’s currently third in the league in unblocked shots per minute at even strength, and with those shots going in at nearly twice the rate that they did last season it’s not surprising that he’s on pace for 50 goals. I don’t expect him to maintain that shooting percentage but based on the shot rate alone, and more importantly the types of chances he’s getting, Meier is going to blow away his previous career high of 21 goals and should easily clear the 35-goal mark as well. The biggest key is probably that his line with Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl has the size and cycling ability to get Meier those chances in front of the net that are his bread and butter but they also have the speed and passing to create chances off the rush that Meier really didn’t generate much of last season.

 

Game #35 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

So it took a little bit longer than it looked like it was going to after the the first 10 minutes of the game, but the Penguins salvaged a split at home after Tampa won Game 1. These are two incredibly flawed teams, particularly on their respective blue lines, but the speed and dynamism among their forward corps is what got both within three wins of representing the East. Somehow Pengs coach Mike Sullivan allowed both Justin Schultz and Trevor Daley on the ice together at home in a conference final game, and behind Christ Kunitz (who fell down) no less. Predictably that shift resulted in the second Tampa goal. However, Sidney Crosby ended the OT period forty seconds in after cement mixer face Jeremy Roenick said that he wasn’t working as hard as Jonathan Drouin during the second intermission.

Everything Else

salsa shark vs evil empire

Game Time: 7:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency: Fear The Fin

Due to a fortunate bit of scheduling, the Capades’ stand at the United Center coincided with the NHL All Star game, and as a result the Hawks’ only played four games away from the West Side in their 16 days since last being at home. And they’ll do so tonight against the Sharks, a team no one can figure out what exactly it is they’re doing.

Everything Else

oldschool at obedience

Game Time: 6:00PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
The Easter Bunny at Menlo Park Is More Convincing: In Lou We Trust

In what is already their 846th back to back of barely half a season, the Hawks will traverse the Five Boroughs and head right across both rivers to Newark to meet the Devils. The blizzard conditions that are now news because it’s hitting New York despite the fact that it just dumped over a foot of snow here three days ago in the part of the country that doesn’t count will almost assuredly be blamed for what will be a low turnout, as has been the case since the Devils moved to The Rock. And based on the type of game the Devils play, they can’t really be blamed.

Everything Else

obedience vs oldschool

Game Time: 7:00PM
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: In Lou We Trust

Somewhere John McDonough is livid that the Devils are in town on Christmas Eve Eve, the biggest marketing bonanza of the year, and there’s now not an extra dollar he can wring out of it with some punny or hackneyed take on their name or anything to relate to Christmas. The Devil and Christmas; never the twain shall meet outside of the brilliant mind of David St. Hubbins. And if McDonough really had any foresight, he’d make the Hawks wear home whites just to make the jolly fat man on the opposition have to wear red.