Live Undead – Hawks at Kings Game 6 Preview, Pregame Thread, Ouija Board Circle

oldschool at king

Game Time: 8:00PM CDT
TV/Radio: NBCSN, CBC (Anglo), RDS (Franco), WGN-AM 720
Let Me Ride: The Royal Half, Jewels From The Crown, Battle of California

After less than 48 hours since Game 5 and its breakneck pace, the Kings, Hawks, their coaching staffs, upper management, fans, and the general sporting public have barely still all barely caught their collective breath. And there’s still the absolutely terrifying prospect that tonight will be as equally insane, if not moreso.

In his heart of defensively oriented hearts, Kings coach Darryl Sutter probably would have preferred a much slower pace to Game 5. But it had to bring even the slightest crooked smile to his perpetual bitter beer face to know that his team could not only withstand the Hawks’ vaunted speed and transition, but also give them absolutely everything they could handle going back the other way. Well, at least his forward corps.

And that’s a corps that’s gotten progressively more and more out of the top unit of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Marian Gaborik after remaining largely silent for the first three games of the series. Brown and Gaborik each have goals in the last two games, and Kopitar has three assists in that timeframe as well. With That 70s Line of Carter and the Kids still freewheeling around the Hawks’ defensive zone with impunity, having this line heat up could mean the guillotine for the Hawks. Even with the opportunity to pick their opponent on Staples ice, Sutter has continually chosen to get Kopitar out against Toews in the hopes that they neutralize one another, and for the most part they have.

What Sutter has been doing is getting Carter, Pearson, and Toffoli out against the Hawks’ bottom six forwards (or bottom three who skate more than 5:00 a night), particularly at home, and they’ve been eviscerating them. If the Hawks are going to survive this trip into the La Brea Tar Pits tonight, Quenneville is going to need quick changes to get a better matchup on the ice for this line or hope that Corey Crawford is exponentially better than he has been the last four games, and neither sounds all that appetizing.

For the Kings blue line, it became readily apparent once again what can be done to Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene if they’re forced to actually defend, which the Hawks’ depth was finally able to do on Wednesday night. But back at home and even after playing 40 minutes on Wednesday, Drew Doughty will still be double shifted and be forced to match up against any perceived Hawks threat, and he’s been more than up for the challenge the entire series.

And even behind that, there still looms the specter of the “Jonathan Quick Game” even as the sample size grows larger and his middling-to-bad save percentage hasn’t fluctuated or corrected. Quick has made brilliant saves when he has had to, and they have immediately been turned into cashed in opportunities by his forwards, as was the case on his save on Toews which resulted in the Gaborik goal at the other end on Wednesday. But bringing to him a high volume of work as the Hawks did in Game 5 and running the risk that he simply slams the door is the far preferable option than being overly finicky in shot selection. Everything must go on net.

As for our Men of Four Feathers, they live to fight another day almost solely on the basis of Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane freaking the fuck off on Wednesday night. But Saad being an absolute demon, particularly through the neutral zone masked the more encouraging note that the Hawks’ puck support during breakouts was excellent, as there was very little fleeing of the zone prematurely. That will have to continue tonight if they’re to have a snowball’s chance in Malibu of bringing this series back to the United Center.

At press time there is no word yet on what the forward lines will look like tonight, but based on their usage from the second period onward Wednesday, it seems reasonable to think that both Kris Versteeg and Brandon Bollig will be watching from tonight, with Peter Regin being the obvious choice to come in should only one of them sit. Should both of them, it’ll likely be Joakim Nordstrom over Jeremy Morin. Michal Handzus was never going to sit even if he didn’t provide the improbable game winner the other night, but now in light of that the hope is as it always has been with Zus, that Q doesn’t have to go to his blankie too often and he is utilized as the specialist he is with minimal exposure to even strength.

But this all truly rides on the second line of Kane, Saad, and Andrew Shaw, who is apparently fine according to Quenneville despite dragging a dead leg around for overtime. That Kane was finally able to move without dragging 77 inches of Slovak around created an actual attack from a line beyond Toews and Hossa, and the result was Kane doing what Kane generally does against Willie Mitchell. But at home Sutter may just say “Fuck it” and toss Doughty out against that line too, which is where having any kind of non-Bollig-or-Versteeg contribution out of the bottom six would be vital.

Sutter will also have a chance to better attack Quenneville’s remixed defensive pairings, and the Carter line is probably already adjusting their bibs for either the Oduya-Rozy or Seabrook-Leddy units. Rozy and Oduya were actually quite solid on Wednesday, but again, that was with cherry picked matchups. Seabrook and Leddy are the real concern however, as there wasn’t a lot of intuition if not communication between two pinch-happy defensemen, which can make for a tentative Leddy. And a tentative Leddy is a borderline useless if not outright detrimental Leddy. And his escapability in the event the Kings kitchen sink their forecheck or elusiveness if they gum up neutral ice is going to be key either way.

Behind all of this Corey Crawford will once again get an opportunity regain some of the form from the first two rounds, even if they were outliers statistically and were always going to regress a slight bit, but perhaps not to this degree. He hasn’t been helped by some of his teammates, as there are very few goals in this series one could say he’s had much of a chance on, with Pearson’s from Wednesday’s being the obvious clubhouse leader. But he stood tall in the third and in the overtimes, which could be a sign that he’s regained some kind of rhythm. He’ll need the best performance of the series from either goaltender tonight for the Hawks to equalize it, which is an admittedly low standard considering both are carrying sub-.900 save percentages through five games.

That the Hawks have won both games wherein they have not allowed a power play goal from the Kings and scored one themselves is absolutely no accident. These teams are so evenly matched that handing over the fucking launch codes to the lethal Kings advantage with needless penalties 200 feet away from the Hawks’ net have to stop. Giving Doughty, Muzzin, and Voynov a little less time to perform a vivisection from the top of the umbrella by having forward close out harder in front of them would be nice, but one thing at a time.

The consequences remain the same as Wednesday with the task ahead that much more daunting with Sutter now able to pick his matchups. A loss in six games is no less disappointing than a loss in five for a team that has shouted from the mountaintops to expect them to win a championship. And with home ice in this round and potentially the next, that’s where the basic odds say they should be. With the Kane, Saad, and Shaw line materializing out of the ether to give the Hawks a competent second line to attack with, these teams each have about the same amount of weapons to work with. With so many things cancelling each other out, it can boil down to individual talent, where again, these teams stack up pretty equally. Home ice advantage is a real, tangible thing for the Hawks to have to overcome tonight, and they’ve struggled with doing so to this point in the post season.

This will not be fun. This will be torturous. But it will be necessary to extend the season. Let’s go Hawks.

  • TitanTransistor

    I think Q’s plan was for Toews to neutralize the Kopitar line, while Keith and Seabrook handle the Carter line.

    Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked out, because both Keith and Seabrook have been mediocre to bad this series.

    • HawkIPA

      Team D is the big worry tonight. Kings are going to make them earn it.

      • Hags

        going to need an effort a la Game 4 in LA last year where the blue line was nails in Keith’s absence.

        • HawkIPA

          Exactly what I was thinking. A more recent example is how the D tightened up against StL after the Seabrook suspension. Disciplined, focused D for 60 minutes.

  • raditzzzz

    tonight ride the kopodor slayers.

  • http://www.nosqldatabases.com Derek Stainer

    I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again. The Hawks haven’t won many road games this playoffs (only 2 to be exact). However, they got the one road win when they needed it most. Game 5 to take home ice away from the Blues and Game 6 to close out against the Wild. Now they need one road win in this series and tonight is the night they get it.

    • ballyb11

      Kings are 5 – 3 at home in the playoffs, 3 – 3 before this series. Hawk win tonight is very doable.

      • Roy Batty

        Whaaaa?

        Notworry’d

        • ballyb11

          Didn’t say that.

          • Roy Batty

            Sumwut worry’d

  • tom

    No proofreading tonight?

    • Jeff Lebowski

      bitching about free content…

      • QCBlackhawk

        Yeah, well, you know…that’s just like…ah, your opinion, man.

        • 2883

          The Dude.

          • QCBlackhawk

            El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.

          • Jeff Lebowski

            Is this uhhhh

            what day is this?

    • http://www.thecommittedindian.com/ Matt McClure

      Fuck you.

      • CozBullsFan

        That looks like a TCI upboat record right there.

        • pepe_silvia

          I am proud to be a part of this moment.

      • AirTrafficAJ

        Tom has taken to trolling other websites now that MySpace has turned into the graveyard of the internets.

        • CozBullsFan

          When wasn’t it the graveyard of the internet?

          • AirTrafficAJ

            There was a time before Facebook stole it’s “thunder” when MySpace was popular. Now it’s like the “bad neighborhood” of the Internet. It’s the Detroit of the Internet.

          • CozBullsFan

            Heh. Good analogy. I wasn’t really into Myspace all that much.

          • http://www.twitter.com/JohnnyMadhouse JohnnyMadhouse

            That’s not true, there are still people in Detroit.

      • rhodes

        No typos there!

  • HawkIPA

    Nice preview. The night is dark and full of terrors. I think this team, and Crawford especially, are up to the task. Just a gut feeling. The puck can’t drop soon enough.

  • birdhead

    I woke up early (on a Saturday!) after having a series of nightmares about this game, which really seems disproportionate to its importance. I hope my nightmares were not predictive :-/

  • pepe_silvia

    Come out with the same intensity as in Game 5. Don’t get discouraged if they score one, just come right back and get the next one. I know this team has the talent to win it, and based on last game, it looks like that fire under their collective (minus Versteeg) asses has finally been lit. Let’s go boys

  • TitanTransistor

    The ideal scenario would be the Hawks establishing an early lead, and then keeping that lead throughout the game.

    Ideal for my sanity, anyway…

    • ballyb11

      1-0 lead
      2-0
      3-0
      4-0
      5-0
      .
      .
      .
      .
      X-0

  • Beastoftheeast81

    The cup is my Shepard, and although we lack a 4th line we shall overcome.
    Lord Stanley allows me to lie down in pools during the offseason, visit children’s hospitals, and show compassion to both the good and the wicked. Our short offseason with Stanely allowed us to rejuvinate faster than any others and guide us along the right paths in his namesake.

    Even though we walk through the valley of pony tailed briefcase wheeling scum, silicone breasts, bad movies, and the experts stating certain death . I will fear no evil Lord Stanley. For we are still the champions and you reside with us. Our sticks, and the black round pucks comfort me.

    You’ve prepared a glorious table with thy enemies, the wicked Kings of Los Angeles to do battle. And anoint thy stupid fans with backwash water. Lord Stanley the Cup overflows with our bounty.

    Surely, your goodness and love will follow us to Staples Center and all the days of the cores years left. And will dwell in the temple Wirtzy built in the United Center.

    The names of those that did battle forever engraved on the Lord’s chalice.

    (TO GAME 7!!!!)

    Let’s GO HAWKS!!

    • Hags

      A simpler prayer would have been “Please let Patrick Kane see more of Willie Mitchell, Amen.”

      • Beastoftheeast81

        Hahaha, I was feeling creative…successful or not, at least give me A for the effort Hagszy.

        • Hags

          i’ll give ya that.

  • Commit88

    I hope the Hawks can score first. That seems to be helpful

    • pepe_silvia

      That, and if it goes into OT, I hope the Hawks score last. Also helpful.

  • Hockey

    NERVES, CRYING, BARFING

    • CozBullsFan

      Have a shot.

      • flahawkfan

        Or five.

        • CozBullsFan

          That’s asking for an early end to your night. Moderation!

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      He which hath no stomach to this fight,
      Let him depart; his passport shall be made.

  • Jim

    Nobody talks about Bickell and Sharp any more. It would be nice to see these two come alive offensively in tonight’s game. Remember Bickell, the guy who’s game was made for the playoffs? And Sharp? Our leading scorer Sharp? Been a long time since any “handsome goal” comments.

    • Oregon_hawk

      Bickell? He of 7 goals, or tied for 5th in the league, and 2nd on the team behind only toews?

      6th on the team with 10 pts. The only guy who is really just not doing it offensively is sharp – and i think its a pretty good consensus that he’s hurt.

      • Jim

        Bickell hasn’t done much this series. He has one point in 5 games. Tonight would be a good time to step up.

    • Jim

      Sharp…he’s a -4, with on point in 5 games. I heard his skating is fine, it’s an upper body, impacting his shot. I think the loss of Sharp has been a big difference here. The Hawks miss his offense.

      • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

        Well, he scored last Fri (but, 0 +/-), so maybe he’s due again.

        • 2883

          That was a deflection no shot needed

          • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

            Yeah, it was probably too much to hope for.

          • 2883

            Sorry to crush your hopes :(

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    Our battle is more full of names than yours,
    Our men more perfect in the use of arms,
    Our armour all as strong, our cause the best;
    Then reason will our hearts should be as good.

  • wanker751

    I just found out right now from my wife this games starts @ 8… fml 1 extra hour of puking feeling

  • PE-TER RE-GIN

    This feels like the Night of the Hossa

    Just a feeling

    LET’S GO ‘HAWKS

    • Beastoftheeast81

      I hope the Slovakian Nightmare comes alive tonight. He’s played well but is due for a 2 spot on Quickie. Why not tonight?

      • Hawkeytalk

        Not to mention 88 scoring. Like, a lot.

  • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

    My wish list of things to fix over G5: Face-offs, LA 40, Chi 34; Giveaways, LA 6, Chi 14. The face-off rate isn’t the end of the world and putting Versteeg in his best press box clothes should help the latter, but I think both will really help make-up for being on the road.

  • April O’Neil

    I’m not sure if this game is the best one to watch in a public setting… nearly lost my mind on Wednesday… oh well, I guess. Go Hawks.

  • Hockey

    Have a very positive nervy feeling about tonight. Feel like the Hawks discovered it on Weds… Think it’ll be a definitive win for whoever gets it tonight.

  • NoMeansNo88

    Came here to torture myself by reading what the other side has to say, extremely well written post. Now please let everything that can go wrong go wrong for the Hawks. GKG

    • Beastoftheeast81

      I read The Royal Half consistently since the 13′ WCF last year. He is fantastic with the podcasts and other commentary. I wish Fels would do more podcasts.

      Now that being said, I hope we kick your ass tonight. Alas, its highly unlikely that will happen. I’ve got this feeling our season is over tonight. But there is a small bit of hope left that #50/#81 say not today to the God of Death.

      Regardless whoever comes from the west will rain shit terror upon the New York Rangers.

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    Game 6 when trailing…. Stress balanced by resignation….

    • 2883

      Stress balanced by alcoholism*

      • Say what again

        me too

  • http://www.twitter.com/JohnnyMadhouse JohnnyMadhouse

    What we want to see:

    10-19-81
    20-65-88
    29-12-28
    42-16-11

    What we’re gonna see:

    29-19-81
    20-65-88
    10-26-12
    23-16-28

    • 2883

      Versteeg is much more likely to sit than Bollig tbh

    • PE-TER RE-GIN

      I’d rather see Zus than Nordstrom if Zus is used right (i.e. not made to be 2C). Nordstrom isn’t big and could get run by the Kings forwards.

    • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

      Lines in warmups: 29-19-81, 20-65-88, 10-26-12, 52-16-28. That's what I'm seeing anyways. #Blackhawks— Tracey Myers (@TramyersCSN) May 31, 2014

  • Hags
  • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

    So, to ease my nerves (in addition to booze), I’m watching The Muppets (2011 version) instead of driving myself nuts listening to Milbury and Jones. Come to find out it’s a story of a couple small town kids going to LA to save it from itself after years of degradation and decay. Talk about foreshadowing for a big show tune number! Wocka Wocka Wocka, everyone!

    Bonus, ‘The Pig with the Froggy Tattoo’ teaser trailer attached. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHqLcEtt368

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Brookbank to….forward?

  • CozBullsFan