Everything Else

vs.

RECORDS: Hawks 26-28-9   Ducks 24-30-9

PUCK DROP: 9pm

TV: NBCSN

MICKEY’S BUDDIES: Anaheim Calling

You can probably imagine the execs at NBCSN wishing they had flex scheduling tonight. Or maybe they wish they didn’t have to put up with the NHL at all. Either way, a Hawks-Ducks matchup on your flagship night is sure to result in some shaking heads and sighs around the offices and truck and a declaration of, “Let’s just get through this”. But hey, this is our duty, and we’ll stick to it.

If you want to be relieved in finally getting to watch a team that’s a bigger mess than the Hawks, well you’re in luck the next two dates on the Hawks’ calendar. The Ducks have become perhaps the league’s leading calamity, and if they’re not it’s up the I-5 for the Hawks on Saturday afternoon. There was a time when Anaheim was floating around the playoff spots, though that was solely due to John Gibson and his Vezina-worthy form at the time. Then that dropped off, then he got hurt, and all that was left was Randy Carlyle‘s bashing-two-rocks-together system and ways, which was getting the Ducks pummeled every night to begin with.

They went 12 in a row without a win. Then they piled on seven regulation losses in a row soon after that. They’ve lost three in a row heading into this one, scoring two goals in the process. All told, since the middle of December this team is 5-19-4. That’s how you go for broke in the lottery, peeps. Whatever I might think of Jeremy Colliton, I can confidently say he’s no Randy Carlyle.

In a move his mentor Bob Pulford would undoubtedly nod in approval over, before falling over into a puddle of his own puke, Bob Murray finally shitcanned RANDY and inserted himself behind the bench. Perhaps he wanted a better look at the refuse he’s taped together, or perhaps whatever dignity he has left wouldn’t allow him to subject any other poor soul to this. It hasn’t much helped, as you might be able to tell.

The Ducks are somehow worse than the Hawks defensively and metrically, and basically have been all season. Carlyle’s tactics didn’t help, which seemed to harken back to 2007, the only time he knows. That and helmets actually cause concussions. This guy had an NHL coaching job, people.

Not only are the Ducks irretrievably bad and expensive, they’re now banged up. Ryan Getzlaf, John Gibson, and Ryan Miller could all miss out tonight. Ondrej Kase definitely will. This roster is basically bong residue. Ryan Kesler is dead and has also stopped caring, which is a real shock. Corey Perry returned from surgery 12 games ago and is a fourth-liner making $8 million. Hampus! Hampus! has lost the will to live, and Cam Fowler‘s injury history has finally caught up to him and now he’s terrible.

If there’s any hope for the Ducks, it’s that some of their kids are up and are probably going to get a look. Names like Sam Steel, Troy Terry, Max Jones, and Brendan Guhle are going to be carrying whatever the Ducks are going forward, so that at least gives their 12 fans something to watch. But this is a whole lot of ugly right now, which is perfect for this part of Orange County. If you’ve been there, you know.

For the Hawks, their playoff “chase,” such as it was, probably came to an end with the o-for-2 at home on the weekend. However, with the Ducks and Kings on the schedule they have a chance to at least get back where they were, and maybe you spring a surprise on the Sharks on Sunday night (no, you don’t). If the Hawks don’t collect all four points from the first two-thirds of this trip, they’re officially cooked and we can get on with our lives.

It’s unlikely that Corey Crawford will get the start, though he’ll get one on the weekend. Then again, you can’t ask for a softer landing than this. This should be a glorified practice against a team now running out the clock, but nothing is ever that simple for an outfit like the Hawks. This one’s for the diehards only, and the true creatures of the night.

See you there.

 

Game #64 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

 vs. 

RECORDS: Hawks 9-14-5   Ducks 14-10-5

PUCK DROP: 9:30

TV: NBCSN

HERE WE GO AGAIN IT’S NEVER GONNA END: Anaheim Calling

God, writing that record out just hurts.

The Hawks quickly jaunt out west this week for a back-to-back against Anaheim and Vegas, and I’m sure landing in Vegas really late curtails any urge to enjoy the splendors and luxuries of Sin City–what I’m saying is that the Hawks will look like particular shit tomorrow night. But we’re not there yet. Let’s deal with a slog with the Ducks first.

Starting with the local Westside Hockey Club. There wouldn’t appear to many changes. Having failed to launch Chris Kunitz headfirst into a landfill at great speed, our best hope is that his “veteran leadership” that cost the Hawks any chance of a point on Sunday lands him in the pressbox for the foreseeable future. Erik Gustafsson should draw back in after a one-game ball-tap, which should send Jan Rutta back into the darkness of the Honda Center on his way to Rockford. Connor Murphy is on the trip but is not likely to play either game, but Sunday against Les Habitants would seem to be likely.

As for the rest of it, there isn’t much left to say. The forwards will get jumbled. Patrick Kane will play everywhere. We hope to notice Brendan Perlini at all. We hope that Dylan Strome builds on what was a decent game on Sunday. But if there’s ever a time to claim some new ground, it’s tonight.

Because don’t be fooled by the Ducks record or placing in a Pacific Division that has all the momentum of a pig in shit. This team BUH-LOWS. They’re on pace to give up a record number of shots per game. They give up the second-most attempts per game, and have the fourth-worst xGA/60 (care to guess who has the first?). They basically get shelled every night, and only heroic work by both John Gibson and Ryan Miller have kept this team from loitering around the entrance to the drugstore with the Hawks, Blues, and Kings.

Gibby, I can call him that, has cooled off a touch since his unholy October, but still came up with a .921 in November and had put up a 34- and 44-save effort in his two starts before getting clocked by the Capitals. Perhaps because of that, and blatant lack of respect for what the Hawks are, they’ll get to see Ryan Miller tonight, who’s only been at .954 at evens this year. So that’s nice.

Up front, the Ducks have a clear delineation from their top-six to the bottom-six. The top line of Pontus AbergRyan GetzlafRickard Rakell has been a weapon of late, with Aberg benefitting the most. I’m not telling you Getzlaf found his long-lost fuck to give, but he’s more than talented enough to set up plays while floating around the outside and reading…well I don’t think he can read but whatever dumbass fucks like him read. The second line is being carried by Adam Henrique, and both of these units start exclusively in the offensive zone. The next lines start exclusively in their own end, and because Ryan Kesler has maggots crawling out of every orifice now, they can’t escape.

The defense had been missing Hampus! Hampus! for a while, and will be without Cam Fowler for longer still. And while they want to believe that Brandon Montour and Josh Manson are that good to justify giving up on Shea Theodore as he excels in Vegas, they’ve been having their brains turned into potato soup most of the year. Maybe a fully-healthy Fowler and Lindholm help that, but this is a Randy Carlyle team and Randy Carlyle teams are terrible metrically while he finds reasons to justify his “Helmets Cause Concussions Because They Make Brains Hot” theory (this is a real thing).

Look, we all know the Hawks are going to get stuffed tomorrow night because they have in every meeting with the Knights. So if they actually still care, and I’m not convinced they do, and want to get a win just to see if they can still feel anymore, this would be the time. The Ducks are bad. The Hawks already deservedly beat them once this season.

Just get a win. Because it might be a nice change of pace.

 

Game #29 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built