Because getting territorially dominated by a Randy Carlyle coached team without two of its best ice flipping defenseman wasn’t insulting enough, the Hawks now have no time to even sit in the corner and feel shame for it with a tilt tonight in Vegas against a Knights team that completely clowned them on national TV and in their own building two weeks ago.
Since dong whipping the Hawks at the UC, the Knights have managed wins over the Canucks and Capitals while somehow managing to lose to the Oilers in an unlikely 2-1 goalie duel between Marc Andre Fleury and Mikko Koskinen. After riding a couple of consecutive shutouts, Fleury’s overall save percentage has normalized to .912 overall and .909 at evens, which still aren’t going to cut it long term and a far cry from his .927/.932 splits last year that propelled the Knights to the Cup Final. Furthermore, his workload is beginning to pile up with Malcolm Subban only getting 4 starts so far this season and not doing a whole hell of a lot with them. Flower is on pace to play right around 70 games this year, and at age 34 coming off a long playoff run wherein he was the primary goaltender does not bode well for Vegas’ chances of replicating last year’s run.
In front of Fleury the Knights’ blueline has mostly stabilized with Nate Schmidt’s return after a PED suspension, and prior to Tuesday’s game against the Caps where Schmidt had two goals and a helper, his lone point was an assist in the ass-waxing of the Hawks where everyone got a taste. The real story among the Vegas defensive corps is Shea Theodore’s territorial dominance, particularly while dragging around Deryk Engelland, as the two have nearly a 57 share in almost 300 even strength minutes together, which is making the contract that he was given finally look like actual foresight on George McPhee’s part. On the third pairng both Nick Holden and Colin Miller want to jump into the play, and Miller in particular is so windy-uppy with his shot it should give the 8 people still watching the Hawks James Wisniewski flashbacks.
Up front the story remains the same with the top line of Jon Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Rielly Smith being heavily relied on, and while Karlsson isn’t shooting like Mike Bossy Reincarnate this year, the line as a whole does a fantastic and slightly unheralded job of not allowing much of anything meaningful against them with the amount of speed they have. The Ginger Ninja Cody Eakin is having a resurgent year and leads the team with 11 goals, and oh yea, Max Pacioretty is here now and very quietly has 10 goals and is on pace for his customary 30+ despite a slow-ish start. The bottom six still has a bunch of guys who run around and Ryan Reaves being a big sack of crap.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, it’d be nice if the league did everyone a favor by just starting the game with only a 12 minute first period and spotting the Hawks’ opponent a 2 goal lead just to save everyone the time and the hassle. While in some of these games the Hawks have been pretty outgunned, but there’s no excuse for getting their doors blown off from fucking Jump St. literally every game, and it’s an indictment of the team already tuning out Jeremy Colliton. Having Jonathan Toews on this team was supposed to be a firewall against this level of suckage, if only leading by example, but he’s been just as guilty of mental and physical lapses as anyone. Cam Ward starts tonight, and based on how his last outing went in Nashville, there’s no reason to believe he’ll stand tall against a phalanx of fast Vegas forwards.
The season has basically all but slipped away from the Hawks, and the only thing left to really find out is who else get launched from the roster and if Stan will be around long enough to get the opportunity to do it as the calls for heads in baskets get lounder from the construction workers outside McDonough’s office. Look for Pat Foley to be exceptionally drunk and cranky tonight. Buckle up.
Game #30 Preview Suite