Hockey

Game #70 – Hawks vs. Sha-arks Preview: The Show Must Go On

vs.

RECORDS: Hawks 31-30-8   SHA-ARKS 29-35-5

PUCK DROP: 7:00 p.m.

TV: NBCSN (WHAT A TREAT FOR THE NATION)

FLOTSAM, JETSAM, AND CHUM: Just follow @ItWasThreeZero

We’ll have our thoughts on The Maven’s well-deserved departure from this thing he created early next week. For now, the show must go on.

For all of our thrashing, wailing, and gnashing of teeth about this year, it’s nothing compared to what’s happened in the Armpit of Silicon Valley. Whereas some of us dummies unironically picked the Sharks to not only make the playoffs but also represent the Western Conference in the Finals, the Sharks may end up finishing with the worst possible outcome of all.

The Sharks currently sit in the bottom five in points, among other luminaries like the Red Wings, Senators, Kings, and Ducks. Though they’ve been a decent-to-good possession team all year (50+ CF% as a team), they simply can’t score. They’re bottom five in goals for. Their GF% is only better than Detroit’s. Shit, the Sharks are one of only about five teams to not have a single 50-point scorer thus far. Even Detroit has one of those.

Injuries have played a role. Erik Karlsson’s skeleton made of boogers Danse Macabre’d his season, as he’s been out since middle February with a broken thumb and won’t return this year. Tomas Hertl’s been out since January with an ACL tear. Logan Couture missed more than a month with a fractured ankle and might have a case of the dizzies tonight. The Sharks are seriously icing guys named Nikolai Knyzhov and former Blackhawk Brandon Davidson. Not great.

And the Sharks you do know have sucked. Brent “Glorified Erik Gustafsson” Burns is tied for second-most points on the Sharks with 45, which isn’t enough to cover for his disgraceful efforts in his own zone. Timo Meier is having a down year following his My First Real Contract signing last off-season, though he leads them in points. And though he’s been somewhat better recently, goaltender Martin Jones still has a sub-.900 SV% in the Year of Our Lord 2020, with a simply horrifying .863 SV% at evens.

And to top it all off, the Sharks were, in hindsight, pantsed and ass-slapped raw by Pierre Dorian in the Erik Karlsson trade. Despite likely finishing in a place that would give them lottery hopes, the Sharks will not have a chance at the lottery, having traded their 2020 first-round pick to the Senators as part of the Karlsson package. Though it’s hard to blame them for doing it then, it’s super easy to laugh at them for doing it now.

For the Hawks, the playoff run that never really was drags on. Though this is a Sharks team they should beat—based on the better top-end talent and real goaltending they have—we’ve often seen that, to quote Coach Cleft Asshole, the effort isn’t there against teams like this. Which, ironically of course, falls squarely on Colliton’s narrow and increasingly slouched shoulders.

Adam Boqvist will likely be out with a concussion after “Hacksaw” Oskar Sundqvist’s forearm shiver on Sunday, as will Lucas Carlsson. So, you’ll likely spend a third of the game peeking from behind your couch, as Nick Seeler, Olli Maatta, and Slater Koekkoek continue to be justifiably in a situation they’d rather not be in. On the plus side (?), we may get our first look at Brandon Hagel, thanks to Drake Caggiula hurting his hand in a fight. Here’s what Coach Gemstone said about him in January, according to Ben Pope:

“He brings something similar to [Matthew] Highmore in just his work ethic,” Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton said in January. “He’s a great skater, he wins races, he plays with a little edge. He’s got a little bit of rat in him, and we like that.”

Well, fuck.

We’ve said it all year: The only way this team has any hope is by Air Raiding and hoping their goaltending can be otherworldly. But too often, this team turtles at the first whiff of trouble. Or when they have the lead. Or when it’s tied. It doesn’t seem to matter. But this is a Sharks team whose defense might be as soft, if not softer, than the Hawks’s. If they come out with a KEEP FIRING, ASSHOLES game plan, they can continue ruining any shot they have at a lottery pick in a vain attempt to save everyone in the front office’s job. Because that’s the One Goal they have now. But if we’re looking for a reason, do it for Crawford. He deserves better than this.

Let’s go Hawks.

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