GAMETIME: 6pm Central
SPRINGSTEEN SUCKS: In Lou We Trust
RECORDS: Hawks 3-3-1 Devils 3-2-1
SCORE-ADJUSTED CF%: Hawks – 51.3% (10th) Devils – 50.1% (13th)
POWER PLAY: Hawks – 19.2% (16th) Devils – 23.8% (9th)
PENALTY KILL – Hawks – Awful (Dead Ass Last) Devils – 90.0% (5th)
TRENDS: Hall has three goals and four points in the past two games, Kyle Quincey… still sucks
The Hawks will embark on a road game for only the third time this season and the last time this month. They’ll be looking for their first point on the road as well. They’ll have a pretty big chance against yet another non-descript Devils team. In fact, the Devils officially changed their name to “The Non-Descript New Jersey Devils.” You didn’t notice, because no one notices anything the Devils really do.
Let’s start with the Hawks because of that. There’s another lineup shuffle to try and juice the scoring from elsewhere than the SuperPak line or Panik put-backs and dunks. Joel Quenneville is going to the so-called “nuclear option” (note: there is no such thing in October) of pairing Kane and Toews along with MickRick Bossyocchet. Schmaltz will drop to the Kruger spot between Dr. Rasmussen and Mumbles, and Kruger will center the two other kids in Motte and Hartman. Personally, I’d rather see Schmaltz between Motte/Harmtan/Vinne Heinze and them to be told to just go and “do shit,” but that’s not the Q way. At least not yet.
This leaves Hossa and Panarin flanking Anisimov, and look we haven’t seen too much of in the past. Hossa briefly played with Pantera last year alongside Toews, but it didn’t really work. And I’m skeptical this will too much either. It’s not that Hossa is a bad playmaker or anything like that, and Hossa and Anisimov in theory should be good in deep and along the wall together. But Pantera’s game depends on someone being able to find him as he drifts, sometimes oddly, into space to get off his shot from spots and timeframes only he can. And really, that’s only Patrick Kane. The numbers didn’t look good but I would still like to see Hossa and Schmaltz get more time together, but we know that Q isn’t one to sit around.
There will be changes in behind as well. Gustav Forsling is still trying to put himself back together after getting railroaded by Lance Bouma on Monday, and won’t make the bell. That should see Michal Kempny return and Rozsvial to get an extended airing-out from the musty storage space they had been keeping him in. How the pairings shake out I couldn’t begin to tell you, but the guess is that they’ll want to see more of Campbell and Keith together. Though you have three d-men who like the right side and three who like the left in the lineup tonight… this doesn’t seem so hard. Crow gets the net.
As for the Devils… I mean there’s not much I can say when PA Parenteau is on the second line and Ben Lovejoy and Kyle Quincey are both on the blue line. I’m pretty much convinced that Lovejoy remains in the league simply because his face swelled up on 24/7 years ago and every GM saw that and said, “That’s hockey we need that on our team our guys don’t swell enough on planes!”
Anyway, the main offseason story for the Devils was the laughable Taylor Hall-for-Adam Larsson trade. Larsson should be a fine NHL d-men, but Hall is arguably the second or third best left wing in the game today. If you’re new to the whole thing, you may recall Hall simply terrorizing the Hawks in Edmonton last year last November. When he wants he can be a true force. And he’s hot now, with three goals in the past two games. He and rookie Pavel Zacha haven’t been brilliant in possession terms but are putting up the numbers.
But after that… hoo boy. It’s whatever Cory Schneider can do and not much else. Zajac and Henrique is the very definition of “fine” down the middle. Adam Cammalleri was past it two years ago. Vern Fiddler is hanging around for his pension here. Devante Smith-Pelly is on his fourth team.
It’s not much better on the blue line. Like, it’s not a great place to be when the departure of Adam Larsson, no matter how worth it, leaves a huge hole. There’s analytics-darling and LOCAL BOY John Moore. And that’s the nicest thing I can say about it. I’m not sure what Andy Greene has ever done except hang around long enough to pick up the captaincy simply because there was no one else. Kyle Quincey was a joke in Detroit and it won’t get much better here.
Thankfully, or maybe not, Schneider will never let the Devils be a total disaster, which they may actually need to get the picks to turn this whole thing around. Schneider should be a Vezina finalist every season, but the Devils may never be good enough to get him there. He’s more than capable of stealing any game for them.
The Devils are still coached well, and they’ll work hard, and they turned the Hawks over twice last year. Still, this team is short on skill and even with the matchups doesn’t have the pieces to get at the Hawks where they are weak. At least on paper, but a single game in a season doesn’t always adhere.
And for god’s sake, kill a penalty.