Game Time: 7:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Bruce Springsteen Is A Fraud And A Charlatan: All About The Jersey
After one of the more vomit-inducing, aesthetically displeasing performances of the Quenneville era last Friday in Newark, the Devils complete the season series tonight at the United Center fresh off getting shut out by West East St. Louis on Tuesday at home.
Basically nothing has changed in less than a week for the Devils since these teams last met. There’s still not a whole hell of a lot going on here, and that’s by design. Though the splits between home and road for this group tell an unsurprising tale. At The Rock, the Devils allow a league-low 39.4 attempts against per 60 minutes of 5v5. However on the road, that number jumps to 53.5, which while still decent, is a marked increase and places them squarely in the middle of the pack. Now this could point to either a lack of experience on new coach John Hynes’ part, or a severe lack of depth on the roster, but in reality it’s a bit of both.
Given their strategy of trying to keep things tight and hope that the quietly excellent Cory Schneider keeps them in games or wins them outright, it’s not surprising that after getting a quick lead at home on the Hawks last week the Devils were basically able to sit on them for forty minutes, or at least keep them mostly to the outside. If they get their opportunities they’re not completely helpless, as they proved six days ago, with Mike Cammalleri, Travis Zajac, and Lee Stempniak all scoring the types of goals they specialize in- ones that ultimately don’t mean anything. But at least Cammalleri is allowed to wear 13 now that weirdo Uncle Lou has taken his act to Toronto.
The Devils blue line is also a reasonably mobile and heady bunch, with John Moore and David SCHLEMKO still of particular interest to Hawks fans. But Adam Larsson, Damon Severson, and Eric Gelinas are all young and possess offensive upside as well. Severson, Gelinas, and Schlemko tend to see incredibly sheltered zone starts but will not have that luxury tonight.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, it appears that this is the last hurdle they’ll have to clear before Duncan Keith returns this weekend. Michal Rozsival is also nearing return, but if he’s a savior, then this group might already be eternally damned. Joel Quenneville didn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement of what he’s got either today, basically saying that Viktor Svedberg’s big, immobile ass will be gone as soon as humanly possible. If that quote isn’t Quenneville-ese for “this guy sucks to high heaven, LITERALLY”, then nothing is.
Up front will see the first icing of a useless tomato can this year in Brandon “Man Shitter” Mashinter. After his acquistion last season there was much discussion of the “element” that Manshitter brings and how much the team likes it, but fortunately the Hawks had better options until this point. As the captain of the Rock River Skatin’ Bacon he’s had 4 goals and 3 assists in 12 games, whatever that’s worth. And at least Manshitter does everyone a favor by letting them know how much he doesn’t belong in the NHL by wearing an awful sweater number in 53.
As far as players that actually matter, Teuvo is finally getting a crack at right wing opposite Marko Dano with Tanner Kero in between. It’s still unclear why he’s not just given the reins to the center position and allowed to hit some bumps in the road, but at least on the right wing he’ll be afforded to distribute the puck on his off-wing, where he’s far more effective turned square to the play and in a more actionable position to shoot or pass.
Corey Crawford once again gets the start tonight coming off an excellent performance on Sunday where the team just kind of figured the children from Edmonton would go away after one period. Crawford was excellent in stopping several point blank chances from the Oiler kids, and the two goals he allowed were in power play and empty net scenarios. The Hawks would have to really make a concerted effort (or lack thereof) to make Crawford work that hard again against the mediocre Devils’ attack, but anything’s possible with the blue line in its current state.
With Keith out, opposing teams have been able to sit on the Hawks’ blue line knowing that the forwards are instructed to close their breakout pass gap, and forecheckers are sent hard in on Hawk defenders who are either too young, too stupid, or too slow to skate themselves out of trouble. Even if the Hawks manage to get the better of the chances tonight against a team that will specifically try at all costs to limit them with a trap that will dare any blue liner to try to skate through it, Cory Schneider is still among the best in the league, and is actually better on the road than at home with a .930 save percentage. It’s not going to be pretty, but that’s nothing new at this point.