These Aren’t The Droids You’re Looking For: Wild at Hawks Preview/Bonfire

 vs. 

RECORDS: Wild 27-9-5  Hawks 27-13-5

PUCK DROP: 6pm

TV: NBCSN

ANIMALS STRIKING CURIOUS POSES: Hockey Wilderness, Gone Puck Wild

PROJECTED LINEUPS

ADJUSTED TEAM CORSI %: Wild – 49.8 (18th)  Hawks – 49.8 (17th)

ADJUSTED TEAM xGF%: Wild – 54.2 (2nd)  Hawks – 47.2 (26th)

POWER PLAY %: Wild – 19.5 (13th)  Hawks – 18.8 (14th)

PENALTY KILL %: Wild – 84.6 (6th)  Hawks – 76.3 (28th)

Repeat this to yourself, because it’s important: There are no big games in January.

We’re sure the Wild are using this as some sort of exam. The Hawks have been doing this contender thing long enough to know that it doesn’t matter. However, after getting their ass rubbed in the moonshine by the Capitals, the Hawks probably don’t want that to snowball into anything worrisome. So they won’t be completely disinterested tonight, or at least you’d hope not.

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Wild Spotlight: I Mean Her Mendocino Nino

We imagine it’s a pretty boring life being a Wild fan. They haven’t really threatened much for a very long time, as their only conference final appearance was in 2003. They spent years suffering under Jacques Lemaire’s life-sapping system. There haven’t been that many dynamic players who have donned the… red and green? Yeah, that’s it. Basically the Wild have just been… there. And there wasn’t much there there.

But we imagine that every so often, they’d take a step back and giggle about the Niederreiter for Clutterbuck trade. We know we would.

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I.E. D.C. F*** You: Hawks 0 – Caps 154

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Shift Chart

And sometimes the bear… well, he eats you.

Overall, the Caps are probably a better team than the Hawks. They’re deeper at both forward and defense, and it’s one of the few teams the Hawks have no advantage in goal against. Right now is most certainly not the time to be playing the Caps, who are now winners of eight in a row. Add to that they’re probably feeling their oats even more after skulling the Penguins at home on Wednesday night. So this is the Caps at the height of their powers.

Whether you think the Hawks are short in places, or don’t really care in the middle of January, or some combo thereof, the results tonight were especially ugly.

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Bottled In Cork – Hawks at Capitals Preview, Confirmation Hearing

 at 

Game Time: 6:00PM CST
TV/Radio: CSN, NHLN (US), WGN-AM 720
Bernie Would Have Won: Japer’s RinkRMNB

In years past, even for a mid January game, had both the Hawks and Capitals been carrying the two longest current winning streaks in the league (Caps at 7, Hawks at 4) there would be such a clamor over yet another POTENTIAL STANLEY CUP FINAL MATCHUP that it’d be deafening. But with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild on an inexorable collision course for June, it seems that tonight’s game in DC is simply old news to most.

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Caps Spotlight: Hendrix Said He Nearly Trotz

It’s strange that Barry Trotz has avoided being called East Coast Bruce Boudreau. They both don’t have a neck, so it works, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s just because Trotz has only been on the East Coast for three years. Still, his record is what it is and looks a lot like Boudreau’s, except Gabby has actually made the conference final once.

This was a Fifth Feather thing many years ago, but when Joel Quenneville was hired and then eventually a Cup champion, he was the first coach to coach more than 10 years without reaching a Stanley Cup Final to then actually do so. And he remains that. Trotz is getting close to the ten year mark, and he’s never been to a conference final.

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How Good We’ve Got It

Most hockey fans roll their eyes whenever they see the Penguins vs. Capitals on their screen. Actually, they do that when the Blackhawks are on the national broadcast as well. Both are understandable, but we’ll focus on the former for now. Pens vs. Caps was shoved down our throats before we even knew what hit us, thanks to the NHL’s desperation to turn Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin into Bird vs. Magic before either had even made the playoffs. The NHL couldn’t, or wouldn’t, wait for it to happen organically, and for the most part I think hockey fans rejected it. Wrestling fans will tell you about a similar scenario with Roman Reigns, but that’s another discussion for another time with much weirder people.

And I think I, and a lot of other fans, have viewed the games between the teams the same way. But I have brought myself out of it, in time to really enjoy last year’s series between the two, and I hope more fans are as well. Because we have two very special players, ones that don’t seem to be appreciated enough, and both are doing things we might not see again and haven’t seen for a very long time.

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