Hockey

Waiting Around To Die – Stars vs Hawks Games 55 & 56 Preview

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Game Times: 6:00PM (5/9), 7:00PM (5/10)
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network, SportsNet (5/9), NBCSN (5/10), WGN-AM 720
JerryWorld: Defending Big D

First of all Happy Mothers Day out there to all whom it may apply to. And anyone who actually cares for the mother figures in their lives would be best served to keep them as far away from watching these games as possible. Seats still available!
To close out the season, the Hawks are welcoming in the freshly eliminated Dallas Stars as well as fans (for some reason) for the first time since March 11th of last year. Dallas was eliminated last night with Nashville’s regulation win over Carolina, which has locked those two into being one another’s respective first round opponent. For the Stars this marks the end of whatever Western Conference title defense that could legitimately be mustered by them, and more than likely it’s for the best for everyone involved that this abbreviated campaign is coming to an end. The team was the very first club to be beset by Covid which delayed the start of their season, and then with the ice storms in Texas decimating the state’s power grid in the deep of winter, that led for the Stars to play something like 27 of their games in the span of 50 days, which is a pace that is difficult for any team to maintain. Not to mention all of the key injuries that they had to deal with too on top of Covid protocol absences, with Ben Bishop missing the entire season and Alex Radulov missing most of it, and Tyler Seguin rushing back from multiple surgeries as fast as he could to only recently play. It all just became a bit too much for them to overcome, even if they got plenty of unexpected offense from likely Calder finalist Jason Robertson, and Jake Oettinger exceeded expectations in backing up Anton Khudobin. The Stars have limited chances well all year long, but simply couldn’t produce enough offense with Seguin and Radulov out when they needed it, and now they’re ending the season ignominously against a Hawks team that’s been a mess as for months as soon as it started having to play real teams.

As for the Men of Four Feathers, Duncan Keith and Brett Connolly are out for both of these last two games after each suffered head injuries on Thursday against Carolina, and that is most certainly the correct move on both parts. Neither has a history of brain trauma to this point, and thankfully the team seems to want to keep it that way, particularly in the very recent wake of Andrew Shaw’s retirement. Kevin Lankinen gets his net back tonight for game 1, which is a bit odd considering how big a deal was made for Colin Delia playing fairly well in relief and getting an OT win on Thursday, but at this point any goalie carousel/fire drill is probably immaterial. Calvin de Haan appears ready to re enter the lineup as well and the Hawks will dress 7 Defensemen, because once again Nikita Zadorov has warranted being on the ice absolutely as much as possible.

There’s not much to say here other than the hope is for a) no huge injuries in games that don’t mean anything (Kirby Dach hello), and b) that even if the Hawks win that the wrong lessons aren’t learned as the season draws to a close. This is still a team that has not won in regulation since April 17th. This is still a team that hemorrhages shots and chances against, and it’s still a team that took 4 of the 18 points available to them when their season was absolutely on the line.  Don’t lose sight of that as this thing comes to a close. Alex DeBrincat getting to 30 goals would be nice, but what would be nicer is if those 30 goals contributed to a meaningful season. Hopefully that project starts Tuesday morning. Let’s go Hawks.

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