Let’s spin it all in one today.
I’ve seen a few on Twitter, nearly begging for reasons for optimism in this March Of The Pigs (as Slak called it and I’m going to use for the last four days of March and again next March). Last night was clear evidence of what one of those pieces can be. Though it was only the Flames, the Hawks’ 4th line essentially ran the show on yet another night where it looked like the rest of the team could barely be arsed.
Piece of evidence of that: Marcus Kruger’s line started 8 shifts in the d-zone and two in the offensive. They were still double-digits in the black in attempts. This is what Kruger does, and why he’s making more money than most of the hockey world can fathom. Again, only the Flames but it’s hard to think of a team that is going to toss out an equivalent 4th line. If the Blues didn’t insist on dressing professional rodeo clown for the insane Ryan Reaves they might. The Stars are close. But Desjardins-Kruger-Shaw is probably the best 4th unit you’ll find.
The Two Obs
-As for the rest, I don’t know that there’s much to say. The amount of passes the Hawks fumbled and turnovers they committed suggested that once again they weren’t totally locked in, but then again when playing the Flames you don’t really have to be.
-If there was any danger, Scott Darling was there to clean it up. He’s had the voodoo sign over the Flames all year (what is it about Hawks’ backups putting on a show in Calgary?). This is what vexes people about Darling. He can look like that, but can’t put it together for too many in a row. The latter is what makes him Scott Darling. It’ll do for now. There aren’t too many fireworks-laden teams left before the games start for real.
-I appreciate that the Flames want to let Dougie Hamilton and T.J. Brodie showcase all their skills and let them off the leash, but I lost count how many times they were deepest in the offensive zone for the Flames. Then again, when you only have three or four forwards, I guess you do what you have to.
-I suppose you can’t feel all that good about Toews’s line basically getting used as a mop by Sean Monahan’s line.
-The Flames threw their best checking center, Mikael Backlund, out against Anisimov along with Frolik. Thus, didn’t notice the Hawks’ second line much. This is going to be a recurring theme, methinks. But I bet Q has a solution for that which we won’t see until April 13th or 14th.
-A lot’s been made about the Hawks’ faceoff struggles. They didn’t win as many as they lost last night, but won. Kruger went .500, but only took four where Shaw took 11. If that’s how this is going to be the rest of the way, the Hawks aren’t going to win a lot of draws and will have to find another way.
-Again, you can do this against the Flames but a bottom four d-men crew of Bartolo, Teflon, Viktor Ostertag, and Rozsival has to be the most immobile Quenneville has ever rolled out. Try that shit against a real team and you know how that’s going to go.
PUCK DROP: 7pm Central
TV/RADIO: WGN for both
DEAD SOULS: Nucks Misconduct
If you can believe it, it actually gets easier for the Hawks tonight. If you can believe it, GM Jim Benning thought this team had a chance at the playoffs before the trade deadline and didn’t cash in all that he could. If you can believe it, this team is up shit creek with a turd for a paddle for the next few years. Actually, you can believe that.
The Nucks are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, going 3-9-1 in March when they were supposed to be “pushing” for the playoffs. Some push. Can you tell I glean a little joy from this?
While it’s in their DNA to point the finger at their goaltending. both Ryan “They Keep Calling Me” Miller and Jakob Markstrom have been fine. In his last four starts Miller is the only reason they’ve been within shouting distance of any of their opponents. This team wasn’t all that good to begin with and became a floating corpse when half the lineup went on the shelf for good. Edler, Vrbata, and Sutter have been boxed up and left at the post office, and Sbisa and Tanev are currently out for now. When Matt Bartkowski is on your top pairing, you are what we call “an unfortunate hockey team” back in the old country.
Up front it’s basically what Thing 1 and Thing 2 can come up with, and they still do it more often than they don’t. A forward-thinking organization would try and find a way to trade these guys this summer, but they’re so entrenched in Vancouver it’ll never happen. But you feel the Canucks can’t really trigger a rebuild without doing so. Away from them they’re trying to build whatever hope they have for the future through Bo Horvat and Jake Virtanen, and there are nights when Virtanen does look like a real power forward in the making.
I can’t dress this up for you. The Canucks are utter dogshit and the Hawks should barely have to raise their pulse to get another two points. Still, their recent adventures in Rogers’ Place haven’t exactly been rewarding. They were thwacked there early in the year, and the Sedins when loose from Kruger or Toews can still be dangerous. Miller is capable of stealing a game too, but those are about the only two ways this one should go sideways on the Hawks. Given that the Blues don’t plan on giving up a goal the rest of the season, the Preds are nearly as hot, it would behoove the Hawks to get the two points they’re practically being handed tonight to avoid California Dreamin’ in Round 1. Because according to Pat Foley, the biggest problem with that is the travel. No one tell Anze Kopitar, mmkay?