Hockey

March Of The Elephants – Jackets vs Hawks Games 15 & 16 Preview

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Game Times: 7:00PM (2/11 & 2/13)
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
It’s Anti-Italian Discrimination: The Cannon

Picking up from last week’s episode of The Columbus Blue Jackets’ 2021 Cavalcade of Numbskullery, Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Tortorella and his charges return to West Madison for the second time in three weekends, and are somehow even more hilarious than when these two teams last met up.

There were plenty of jokes about how well Patrik Laine’s arrival in Columbus and his floaty ways would sit with absolute first-ballot Hall of Fame Red Ass John Tortorella, but clearly Torts is a comedic genius and got the drop on all of them by stapling Laine’s Goat Boy looking ass to the bench not even three games into his Jackets career, and a game after Laine scored twice on two bullets of shots against Carolina. Making the proceedings even more hilarious was the fact that fellow Winnipeg Exile and Money’s Paw Wish Receiver Jack Roslovic scored an absolutely brilliant end-to-end go-ahead goal in the third while putting Brett Pesce in the blender. The former proprietor of this establishment Sam Fels has a theory that Torts did this on purpose just to get it out of the way since everyone expected him to do it anyway, and it’s unclear at press time whether that option is funnier or whether Tortorella simply cannot help himself and this was done on pure instinct. Either way, apparently things have been cleared up internally, and Laine is expected to be in the lineup tonight and going forward, but for how long is literally anyone’s guess.

Laine will find himself on Roslovic’s wing opposite Cam Atkinson, who has climbed from the depths of the Jackets’ bottom six to have real linemates once again. As a result, Alex Texier has moved from top line center to third line right wing beside Boone Jenner and Mikhail Grigorenko, because where else would he go. Second generation goblin Max Domi and leading scorer Oliver Bjorkstrand are the wings around taxi squad call up Kevin Stenlund (yet another Scandanavian Kevin), and captain Nick Foligno, Riley Nash, and Eric Robinson comprise the fourth line.

On the back end, Zach Werenski missed both Hurricanes games and will not play in this series after being placed on IR last Saturday, which means Seth Jones is going to have to play about 900 minutes a night until he gets back. He’s still primarily paired with Vlad Gavrikov, though he’ll likely see time with everyone out of necessity. David Savard also figures to be relied upon heavily during Werenski’s absence, but that’s normally not a positive thing especially when it comes to the Jackets actually having the puck. Scott Harrington moves into the second pairing along side Savard, and Andrew Peeke should take the open roster spot on the third pairing along side OnlyFans Aficianado Michael Del Zotto.

In net, Joonas Korpisalo has made four straight starts after an injury to Elvis FuSchnickens broke the strict rotation out of necessity. Elvis has made the trip, but it’s more than likely that Cam Johnson will back up Korpisalo for at least Thursday night’s game. The situation on Saturday remains up in the air and is likely dependent on Elvis’ availability. Since his last meeting against the Hawks, Korpisalo has slipped a little bit, giving up 5 against Dallas and 6 against the Canes, but given the way the Jackets are still allowing 5v5 attempts against (even worse than the Hawks at 57.79 per 60 of 5v5), it was bound to happen at some point. Korpisalo still has the ability to win games on his own, as the Hawks witnessed firsthand two weeks ago.

As for the Men of Four Feathers, it was announced this morning that our Large Irish Son Connor Murphy will miss 10-14 days with a hip issue, which while not his back again, certainly isn’t encouraging given his protracted injury history, and certainly tamps down a little bit of hope that he might be able to be flipped to a contender for something useful and finally allowed to play in meaningful games. Scarier still was the announcement that Andrew Shaw is out and in the concussion protocol, which is not what anyone wants to hear given what happened to him last season on a human level for the guy.

With Murphy still out it stands to reason that Madison Bowie will remain in the lineup on the blue line since Adam Boqvist only resumed skating today after fighting off covid, and it would make  sense that Ryan Carpenter would dress again to fill that role. Kevin Lankinen will start again tonight, and with the off day in between the games there’s a solid chance he gets the cage on Saturday night too, though Subban’s last couple of starts have been at least encouraging results wise even if he will likely always be a high wire act back there.

As John discussed on THE PODCAST, the Hawks under Coach Jeremy Trestman really only have one way to win, and that’s to have a standout performance from their goalie and to get at least one power play goal, and against the Jackets, the latter becomes a little bit taller order as they still have a top-5 kill at 88.7%, even with Korpisalo going through a bumpy stretch. At least there should be enough looks at even strength to get one by at 5 on 5 here, where the Hawks did not score against Jake Goddamn Oettinger for two games in Dallas. The Jackets power play is now basically at a wash with Werenski out but with Laine’s arrival (assuming he’s not benched again), but the Hawks’ kill has slipped to a very icky 68.4%. Furthermore, in the Vinny Del Colliton era, the Hawks have had a history of pissing their pants immediately after building up even a modest stretch of competent play and/or positive results, and it’s going to all be entrusted on to which Finnish goaltender makes a key stop or two. But hey, Torts may bench someone else for his own amusement, so that in and of itself is a reason to watch. Let’s go Hawks.

 

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