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Game #78 – Jets vs. Hawks Preview/Foot Exam: All The Kids Are Right

 vs. 

RECORDS: Jets 47-19-10   Hawks 31-36-10

PUCK DROP: 7:30

TV: NBCSN Chicago

STOP SAYING THE YEG: JetsNation.ca

Well now it’s really New Toy Day for the Hawks.

They will spend the next two games unveiling all sorts of things, getting a look at some kids who could be something and some who could just be on a flier (not a Flyera). Tonight sees Dylan Sikura make his Hawks debut, on a line with Alex DeBrincat, and if you already have images of them doing this for a decade together, I won’t stop you. They’ll be centered by EggShell, so hey, all the kids are here. and all right. Maybe.

Tomorrow night will see Blake Hillman, or Hill Blakeman, not sure which, and Collin Delia with his superfluous L make their debuts in Colorado. If you were a fan of the Cubs from 2012-2014 or the White Sox now, you know this feeling. There are some kids who come up late in the season that are worth getting excited about. And then there are some that they’re just throwing against the wall (strangely, it was Mike Olt for both teams). That’s what those two feel like, but hey, you never know.

The presence of Delia might just be what lit a fire under Anton Forsberg, if you consider two competent starts in a row “a fire.” It’s barely a kindling, but in this season it just might count. Then again, Delia wasn’t really that good in Rockford, and played in the ECHL this year so basically you can conclude he kinda sucks. We’ll get to this tomorrow, though. Forsberg is probably only going to get three more starts, with the two back-to-backs remaining, at most four. He has to basically crush all of them if he’s going to compete for the backup job next year. And even that probably isn’t enough, though he’ll get a chance in training camp regardless. It’s not as if no one has anything to play for.

As for Sikura, the talent really isn’t the question. The kid has serious hands and serious sense. The question is can he get into areas and stay there with his diminutive size, the way Top Cat does. Another question is how much of a product playing with the best center in college hockey he is. Most think he is just a touch below the level of Adam Gaudette, so we’ll see. The Hawks wanted Sikura earlier than this season, and generally the guys they’ve picked out of college early have been effective (Schmaltz, Hinostroza, Leddy to name a few). You’re allowed to have high hopes on this one.

As for the rest of it, it’s kind of the same. Gustafsson and Murphy get a chance to prove they can be a top four pairing next season (only one of them can). Brent Seabrook can look forward to having Blake Wheeler target him on every single zone entry as is his way. That’s about it.

The Jets don’t have much more to play for. They’re entrenched in second. They’re almost certainly getting the Wild in the first round, and they really should pound the shit out of them when they get there. They’re staring at a second round bloodfest with the Predators, which is going to be an awesome time even if you want both teams to lose. They’re getting healthy, as Scheifele has returned to center the top line, making for perhaps the scariest top nine in the NHL. Jacob Trouba and Toby Enstrom should be ready to go for the playoffs. Trouba has played a couple games though looks like he might miss out tonight. They’ll need them both, as that’s their weak spot, the blue line.

Connor Hellebuyck has won his last five starts and hasn’t lost one in regulation since March 8th. He’s playing as well as can be, and if he keeps the streak going into April then this team can go as far as it wants. Which is weird to say about the Jets, but the world doesn’t have to make sense.

Only five more to go.

Game #78 Preview

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