PUCK DROP: 6pm Central
THE HOCKEY BLOG: Jackets Cannon
SCORE ADJUSTED POSSESSION: Hawks – 50.3 CF% (11th) Jackets – 48.2 CF% (20th)
POWER PLAY: Hawks – 35.7% (3rd) Jackets – 40% (2nd)
PENALTY KILL: Hawks – 47.1% (Dead ass last) Jackets – 85.7% (12th)
Trends: Cam Atkinson only has three goals and seven points in 10 games agains the Hawks. It only feels like has 27 and 43.
The Hawks take it out on the road again tonight, to face a certainly well-rested if oddly-cobbled Blue Jackets squad in the Ohio capital. It’ll start a three-in-four stretch for the Hawks, who return home tomorrow for the Leafs Saturday and Flames Monday. What they’ll find in Columbus is a team built to play a game that no longer wins in the NHL, and one under that that could be a useful NHL team if they let it.
First for the Hawks, who will bring something of a banged up outfit to the Yes-I’m-Bad-I’m-Nationwide Arena. Marian Hossa looks unlikely to make the bell, though Ryan Hartman should be able to slot in to replace him. Without Hossa though the lineup card looks pretty iffy. It’s still Hinostroza and Brick Bossocchet flanking Toews, and they got clocked on Monday. Schmaltz centers Motte and Hartman which does… something. But hey, this is the ride we’re on.
The other change is TVR coming in for Brian Campbell on the blue line. While in the past this would have been the kind of decision that would force me to repeatedly punch myself in the abdomen to control the rage, there’s a couple factors here that should chill everyone out. One, Campbell is 37 and managing his games isn’t the worst idea in the world, especially if you’re counting on a long playoff run that Campbell hasn’t gone through since 2010. Second, whether TVR is going to be on the roster all year or is being showcased for a trade, he has to play at least on occasion. You’re not taking Forsling or Kempny out at this point, because they need all the NHL reps they can get. The big three aren’t coming out either, though that might not be a bad idea later in the year. It’s not ideal, but you can see the reasoning.
For the Jackets, the fine crop of players that Jarmo has drafted are starting to bleed through. Zach Werenski is up. Ryan Murray looks poised to break out. Seth Jones is having his first full year in Columbus. Bjorkstrand and Wennberg are staking out full roles. There’s more bubbling under the surface. The problem arises from the fact that they’re still buried under the strata of Torts-endorsed bullshit players. Brandon Dubinsky is somehow -6 in two games. Scott Hartnell can be timed with an hour glass at this point. I don’t know that I ever knew what Nick Foligno did other than have a shooting binge one season. Jack Johnson still skates valuable minutes and he’s always been overrated by a factor of 12. And they still value all of this crap. There’s a young, fast team waiting to break out with the Jackets, especially when you look at the blue line (more so if Murray returns tonight). It’s just being shackled by coach and ethos.
Sergei Bobrovsky still anchors the crease, and he’s still very capable of taking a team much farther than they have any right to go. It’s been a rough start for Bob in the Jackets’ two games, though he’s had to face 73 shots in those two. Must feel like playing for Russia again.
The Hawks made hard work of a middling team in the Flyera on Tuesday, and there are three struggling ones on the docket here. Feed me more.