PUCK DROP: 6pm
TV/RADIO: CSN, WGN Radio 720
BADA BING: In Lou We Trust
God, please let the Hawks and Devils share a conference sometime soon so we can use that Lovitz picture more than twice a year. Thanks.
The Hawks hit the road for just one, trying to improve on what you’d have to call an abysmal 1-4 record so far. And in those four losses, they haven’t even really been close, getting fairly well tallywhacked by the Flyers, Caps, Jets, and Wild. Only the last one there would you say they were in it, and even in that one they weren’t particularly good. They’ll also be attempting to wash out the taste of Wednesday’s Sun Salutation Of Idiocy, coughing up a three-goal lead to The Filth before losing in the NBA Jam portion that comes after 60 minutes.
They’ll be at The Rock, home of the New Jersey Devils which has to be the team that anyone who’s not a Devils fan thinks about the least. Seriously, do you ever remember they’re actually still around? Not that you spend your days just thinking about random hockey teams, but if you did I promise you the Devils would come up least. Did you know they’ve won 6 of 8? If you did, why? Four of those wins have come in the either gimmick that follows the regular action.
How are they doing it? Kind of the same way they’ve done it the past few years and that’s completely choking the life out of every game and hoping that something happens in the 3rd or overtime. Devils games have the least amount of shot attempts from both teams in the league by a wide margin. Devils games average 88 shot attempts total by both teams per 60 minutes at evens. The next lowest team is the Red Wings at 100.3. The Devils give up the least amount of shots per game, but they also average the least amount of shots for. Basically, watching a Devils game is like getting through that 8am lecture in college about the iconography of the sets on Friends. Or was that just me?
But if you suppress shots, and you have Cory Schneider in net, you’re almost never going to be out of a game and can garbage your way to a few wins, even if they’ll end up meaningless in the end. Schneider is one of the best goalies in the league only no one knows it because he’s toiling in a swamp among a bunch of whosits and whatsits. He’s rocking a .922 SV% and a 2.16 GAA at the moment.
Doing most of the work at the other end is the top line of Adam Henrique, Mike Cammalleri who specializes in goals that mean exactly dick, and Lee Stempniak. Yes, seriously, Stempniak is on a top line here. The rest of the forwards are grunts and worker bees who take out the Devils mantra of choking off the neutral zone and holding on to anything that moves. The blue line has a couple intriguing kids in Eric Gelinas and Adam Larsson, as well as two pieces the Hawks probably should have been interested in this past summer in John Moore and David Schlemko. They’re both unheralded guys who simply push the play the other way while being solid in their own end, and the Devils should be the first call for Stan whenever he decides to go shopping.
As for the Hawks, it appears Crawford will get a chance to rebound from a subpar outing against the Blues. With HEART MAN demoted, it would seem like Hossa is ready to return but Tikhonov is also around so we’ll see how the lineup shakes out. Whatever the Hawks trot out there, don’t expect anything that’s going to kick off your Friday night in style. Games against the Devils are always a slog, as the only way they can compete is by turing the game into monkey mud wrestling, which doesn’t exist but probably should. Patience will be the key word, and cashing in a power play or two wouldn’t hurt either, as even with Schneids the NJ PK has sucked out loud this season. Even if you battle through all the barb wire and trenches the Devils did, Schneider is more than capable of winning a game on his own.
Strap it down.
Update: I got it wrong. Hossa isn’t in New Jersey, lucky him, so look for same lineup as Wednesday.