Game Times: 6:00PM (4/10, 4/12)
TV/Radio, NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network, WGN-AM 720
Bro-Hio: The Cannon
In this weird, plague afflicted, abbreviated intradivision only season, this will mark the conculsion of the truly monumental eight game series between the Hawks and Blue Jackets, and the first series that the Hawks will conclude. And as both teams apparently half assedly approach the deadline, they’re both not trying to trip over their own dicks too intentionally.
For the Jackets, while they’re mathematically alive, they trail the Preds for the last playoff spot by 7 points, have played one more game than them, two teams in between in the Hawks and Stars (who also have four games in hand and more regulation wins already) and only have two games left head to head with Nashville in their penultimate series. So it’s pretty safe to say that the Jackets are about toast on a stick at this point, and the sell-off has already begun with Riley Nash heading to Toronto yesterday for basically nothing, and David Savard has been being held out for the past couple of games because there is always a trade market for a right handed defenseman even if he’s no damn good, just like a left handed reliever.
Of course none of that has stopped Torts from going all Torts, still periodically benching Patrik Laine in the most predictable dysfunctional marriage in the history of the sport, and even recently scratching Jack Roslovic for perceived crimes against Torts’ sensibilities. None of it has made a damn bit of difference one way or the other, as the Jackets have been the worst or second worst possession team in the league for weeks now, and they’ve lost four of their last five in regulation, with the lone win coming against the Bolts even with Vasilevskiy in net who apparently could not be bothered to give a shit that night or there was a gas leak in the locker room. Adding injury to insult, Zach Werenski’s season is now over with looming hernia surgery, so adding that to Savard being held out, the blue line is now basically Seth Jones, four guys no one has ever heard of – seriously, the AI generated name Gabriel Carlsson is slated to be Jones’ partner – and the shattered remains of Michael Del Zotto’s busted career from checking for DMs from porn actresses he’s been pestering. They’ll ply their trade in front of likely both Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins, both of whom probably deserve better but certainly haven’t been playing like it with their robust .912 and .916 5v5 save percentages.
Up front, Roslovic appears to be at least temporarily back in Torts’ good graces and should be centering Mikhail Grigorenko (who is somehow only 26) and Cam Atkinson, who is now two years removed from his 40 goal campaign and currently only has 13 at age 31, which probably is more of an indication of his future than that 41 was. Laine will be centered by Alexandre Texier and play opposite Oliver Bjorkstrand, but for how many shifts is literally anyone’s guess, such is the capricious will of Torts. Garbage Son Max Domi Centers Nick Foligno and his grit, and on the fourth line there’s another scion to be found, this time it’s Stefan Matteau The Younger.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, word came from practice today that the Hawks are themselves holding Mathias Janmark out of the proceedings tonight in anticipation of a trade of some sort, hopefully packaged with Carl Soderberg’s wide ass that has been in the press box for the last week. While some of the talent identification has been questionable-to-downright-askew from this front office in this rebuild/reload/retool, credit must be given that they’re at least not incorrectly identifying future pieces and correctly see what this team is at the moment, even if the coach is still a major impediment to any self scouting. Of course, it would have been nicer to trade Janmark when he was scoring at a completely unsustainable pace 6 weeks ago to get a higher pick, but an asset is an asset – as long as they draft someone from Europe.
With regard to the openings in the lineup, nothing clear came out of practice, and it’s likely that Brett Connolly is still in protocol after moving from one team bubble to another, assuming he didn’t go Radar Love like Vinnie did last week. Either way, both of these games are not likely to be aesthetically pleasing and though the Hawks could in theory gain some ground with two regulation wins given that the Preds play Tampa tonight, and then on Monday Dallas and Nashville go head to head, the Hawks are still three regulation wins and four non-shootout wins behind Nashville, so there is no way they come out of this weekend and through the deadline in a playoff spot. The bigger stories will be off the ice and longer term, with hopefully Nikita Zadorov traded to the Negative Zone for a feather and a wish. Let’s go Hawks.