RECORDS: Hawks 32-37-10 Blues 43-30-6
PUCK DROP: 7pm
TV: NBCSN (It’s Rivalry Night, Don’t Ya Know?)
THE COLD AND DESPERATE: St. Louis Gametime
This is what it’s come to. This “small club” mentality. We used to mock those (i.e. the Blues) whose goals and aims, for fans and players alike, was merely dragging a superior rival down. We laughed that they had nothing else to hang on to. Remember April ’11, when the Blues were determined to knock the Hawks out of the playoffs? Sharp rushed back on one knee and Toews was able to take advantage of Ty Conklin having the angle awareness of a drunken sloth to win it in overtime. That wasn’t the last time that’s happened between these teams of course, the Blues claiming minor/moral victories here and there while the Hawks collected the real baubles. Pictures in a box at home…yellowing and green with mold…
And now this is where we are. The only hope to have a smile about this season is two games with the wholly desperate Blues, who sit one point outside the playoffs but with a game in hand on the Avalanche, who hold the last spot. Those two play on the last night of the season, so even if the Hawks were to somehow get around having unemployed rodeo clowns in net and take both of these next two in regulation, the Blues could still pull themselves out of the muck by beating the Avs in Denver (assuming the Avs don’t beat the Sharks tomorrow night). Further complicating matters is the two teams are tied on ROW at the moment at 40. So it’s going to be white knuckle time for everyone.
And it hurts to admit it would bring a smile to my face if the Hawks cost the Blues a playoff spot. We’re supposed to be bigger than this. The season is lost and our eyes are always supposed to be pointed higher. But I’m a small and petty man, and dragging someone into the muck with you, especially if it’s these cretins… if that’s the only catharsis we’re going to get then let’s have it. Just to let them know they’ll never be free. Plus there’s the added bonus that missing the playoffs will send that organization into an existential crises that can’t help but have hilarious results.
Then again, all the Hawks might have to do is just remain upright and let the Blues do what they do best…Blues all over themselves. They had a home date with the nothing-to-play-for Caps on Monday and promptly blew a lead to lose 4-2. They gave up a touchdown to the Coyotes on Saturday night. They lost to the Knights before that. Only the Avs hiccup in California so far has even allowed the Blues to have a shred of hope. It would suck for the Hawks to be their lifeline, you have to admit.
It’s not like the problems have changed much since we last saw the Blues a couple weeks ago. Jake Allen can’t put it together, and yet they’re determined to shove the job right down his throat. Carter Hutton, who kept the team afloat in January, but admittedly fell apart in February, has played twice since March 1. He got lit up by both Dallas and Arizona. So they’re going to almost certainly let Allen take all three of the remaining games, and he’s barely been ok of late. He had a .916 in March, which is all right, but all right might not save a team that currently has Kyle Fucking Brodziak at a #2 center. That’s what happens when your GM goes into sell-mode but only like halfway and the rest of the NHL can’t bury your half-in, half-out team.
That’s another problem for the Blues. They don’t score a ton, even though they carry the play and chances in most games. They have one genuine, class finisher in Tarasenko, which you knew. But most everyone else who did at least a passable impression of one has gone cold. Schenn has one goal in eight. Schwartz has two in 11, and both of those came in the same game. Alex Steen was dropped into a vat of DIP. The only forward other than Tank who’s on anything resembling a hot streak is Patrik “Yes Somehow He’s Still Here” Berglund, with four in his last six. And he has a such a sterling rep for showing up when it counts. If Tarasenko doesn’t fire them into the playoffs, ain’t no one else gonna. Thankfully for them they get a face-full of JF Berube or Jeff Glass or whatever other form Quenneville and Bowman can dig out of their ear to play goal the next two games.
As for the Hawks… oh christ who gives a flying fuck? You know the drill here. Some dope in net, and basically the same lineup you’ve seen. Maybe Q will break up the “Kids” line of Top Cat, EggShell, and Sikura because they got worked in Colorado and there’s no sheltering them on the road. Maybe he’ll continue to see what they can do in the deep end. Blay Killman will probably exit stage right after getting a run-out in front of his college and drinking buddies in Denver. That should see Jan Rutta return. And more of Gustafsson-Murphy, which might be the only pairing you see again next year given how things have gone for them. These are the lights were trying to find our way with.
Three more to go, people.
Game #80 Preview