RECORDS: Panthers 12-14-5 Hawks 14-11-5
PUCK DROP: 7:30pm
TV: NBCSN Chicago
The Hawks got three games against the remedial class of the NHL to set back their five-game losing streak. It hasn’t been pretty, but they got the four points required against the Sabres and Coyotes, and the last of the set is tonight agains the Cats. The Florida Panthers aren’t quite the same overly-medicated cases that the first two are, but they’re still under .500 and still very much the Florida Panthers. The Hawks will also catch them on the second of a back-to-back, having beaten another fellow jacket-with-mittens-pinned-to-them-year-round crew member Red Wings last night in overtime.
Not much has changed too much for the Cats since you last saw them Thanksgiving weekend. There are four real forwards here in Huberdeau, Barkov, Trocheck, and because I’m in a good mood Bjugstad. Dadonov is hurt. The rest of the crew is just a bunch of reclamation projects and very young kids. So the top line can kick your head in for about a third of the game if they’re on song, and Trocheck can usually conjure something, but they just don’t have the depth to take that over a full 60.
It’s kind of the same story on the back end, where you won’t complain too much about a top pairing of Aaron Ekblad and Keith Yandle. But beyond that… same story. Matheson and Weegar (my fellow babies) are kids, and Petrovic has been around long enough to fully label himself “a guy.”
The Cats haven’t been helped by Roberto Luongo’s injury, as he was excellent before going down for what looks like a while. Optimus Reim, James Reimer, has been the opposite. And because he played last night, the Hawks might be getting a look at Harri Sateri tonight, which we are told is an actual name and not a condition. He hasn’t played in the NHL yet, so don’t be surprised if Bob Boughner rolls out Reimer two nights in a row. Especially as the Panthers are far enough behind and have enough teams to climb over to get into the playoff spots that they can’t really be pissing away any more points.
For the Hawks, one lineup change that appears to be on the cards is Richard Panik being scratched for Ryan Hartman. While Panik hasn’t scored since Purim, it feels a little harsh on him because the rest of his game has been ok. But then there’s this from Q:
Quenneville on what he hopes Panik takes from being scratched: "Whether he’s shooting or around the net, disturbing there, but having the puck and keeping it more than as opposed to being a dead-end at that end when he does get around it."
— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) December 12, 2017
So clearly Q isn’t thrilled with his work when he gets the puck, and I can’t really argue with that. It’s almost as if he’s… Richard Panik? The guy who couldn’t crack the Leafs roster two years ago? That one? Could it be?
Anyway, Hartman is running out of time to actually be of use this season before he’s permanently demoted to the Q Doghouse, and we know trying to escape from there is like trying to escape from a black hole. Playing with Hinostroza and Sharp should at least make for an active line, even if it doesn’t have the slightest clue where to be and when. If you combine Hartman and Hinostroza… well, you’d still have a player that has no idea how to be a center.
The rest of the lineup remains the same, though no word on if Saad and DeBrincat will remain on their off-sides as they were on Sunday. Hope so. Jordan Oesterle remains in the lineup, and Michal Kempny continues to stare straight ahead and wonder what might have been while being unresponsive to anything going on around him. Suddenly the lyrics to “One” make a lot more sense to him.
This is still a honey part of the schedule for the Hawks. Yes, the Jets are pretty spiky right now but after that it’s the thoroughly mediocre Wild, Stars, Devils, Canucks, Oilers, Flames, Rangers, and Knights. In fact, the Hawks don’t face a team you’d consider “definitely good” until January 12th against the Jets again. So take advantage.
Game #31 Preview