Modern Day Catastrophists – Hawks at Kings Game 4 Preview, Pregame Thread, Target Run

oldschool at centerpiece-king

Game Time: 8:00PM Central
TV/Radio: NBCSN, TSN (Anglo), RDS (Franco), WGN-AM 720
Help Me Rhonda: The Royal Half, Jewels From The Crown, Battle of California

With a pivotal Game 4 taking place on South Figeuroa later this evening, the question of this series has become can the Hawks generate enough secondary scoring to match that of the Kings, and thus finding a way to stem the tide of the Kings’ lethal second line. Or is Jonathan Toews basically going to have to do all of this by himself?

While the series leading Kings probably wouldn’t prefer having their all-world two-way center Anze Kopitar consistently getting his lunch fed to him in terms of possession metrics and classic scoring production with just an assist in the series so far, they’ll certainly take his keeping Toews occupied enough to allow the second line of Carter, Toffoli, and Pearson to be running absolutely wild on the remainder of the Hawks lineup. And with last change at home at Staples, it seems like the mushmouthed Darryl Sutter has no intention of changing his strategy, as the Hawks have not proven it to be an incorrect one to this point.

Similarly, the Hawks have not put any pressure on the Kings lower pairings which feature the likes of Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell, who have only really been made to chase anyone down with their lack of speed during the first half of Game 2. Hurt shoulder(s) or not, Drew Doughty is playing at the absolute peak of his powers right now, and that’s been more than enough for him to cover up any perceived defensive lapses from Jake Muzzin since his catastrophic pinch in Game 1. As a result the Kings are playing offense far more often than they’ve needed to defend, which has been a catalyst in getting Jonathan Quick in rhythm after a wonky first 100 minutes of the series. Quick has been seeing the puck far better because the chances are primarily coming from the outside from 3 of the Hawks’ 4 lines, where it’s easy for any goalie to settle in.

As for our Men of Four Feathers, while it might not be fair to pin an entire team’s offensive struggles on one person, there’s no dancing around the fact that there is a 6’5″ Slovakian shaped black hole at center on the second line. At press time there’s been no word on line configurations for the evening, and Q sidestepped it at yesterday’s practice by not having line rushes. But having Michal Handzus once again centering Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane would be the very definition of insanity. The numbers are well established regarding Kane’s struggles when dragging Handzus, and there just simply is no more time left to wait for whatever Joel Quenneville believes will finally click between the two.

This playoff run has also unfortunately revealed the reality that the Hawks are going to need a Patrick Sharp contingency plan, and soon. As depressing as it is to think, Sharp is now 32, and has played the most hockey in his life this season with the ever-so-meaningful Olympic selection in February along with one of the few Hawks to play all 82. Having Andrew Shaw accidentally crash into him probably didn’t help, but this may just be a case of not having a lot left in the tank at this point. And putting him with Handzus isn’t maximizing what he can still do.

The fault doesn’t lie solely with Handzus, however, as there have been some serious deficiencies down the lineup with Brandon Bollig once again proving to be an active detriment to the team, and Kris Versteeg offering next to nothing. The blue line is not without blame as well. Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival have been beaten, and badly, for some very glaring goals against. And once again, they’re two players in their mid thirties who participated in the Olympics, Oduya the maximum number of games. So to reiterate statements made nearly a year ago, the Olympics are fucking stupid, and the evidence is now out there.

Of course, it hasn’t helped that Corey Crawford has sported a ghastly .871 save percentage in the past two games where he’s allowed 9 goals on 62 shots. Traditionally Crawford has bounced back from shitting himself in games the following performance, but that certainly was not the case on Saturday night. He’ll flat out have to be on top of his game for the Hawks to even this series.

Believe it or not, history is on the side of the Hawks even still at this juncture. Under Quenneville, they have not lost a series where either they’ve had home ice advantage or have won game one, which they had both of in this case. They have shown the ability to look completely out of sorts for the first parts of series and storm back and adapt, as last year against Boston and Detroit, 2011 against Vancouver in defeat, and 2010 against Nashville, and even this spring against the Blues all standing in evidence of that. And no team that has needed the full 14 games to reach the conference championship round as the Kings have has ever advanced to a Cup Final. But the Rangers are in that very same boat and on the verge of wiping that record clean off the books. And this is a Kings team who very recently erased a three games to none deficit against the Sharks and has plenty of championship pedigree of their own. It’d be wise for the Hawks not to test that mettle. And for all of the doomsaying, they are still an efficient, balanced, and coherent performance away from putting this series right where it needs to be for its remainder. Get out there and make it happen. Let’s go Hawks.

  • TitanTransistor

    “Of course, it hasn’t helped that Corey Crawford has sported a ghastly .871 save percentage in the past two games where he’s allowed 9 goals on 62 shots. Traditionally Crawford has bounced back from shitting himself in games the following performance, but that certainly was not the case on Saturday night. He’ll flat out have to be on top of his game for the Hawks to even this series.”

    I wouldn’t be shocked if Crawford is getting burned out in much the same way you spoke of the Olympians.

    This is really the first time since 2011, when he’s seen anywhere near this much rubber per game. And he’s been seeing it for 3 series now.

    Crawford is a very good goalie, but IMO, he’s never been expected to be the kind of goalie to put an entire team on his back and win a playoff run himself. We’ve seem him win games for the team, but never the amount he’s had to or been requested to this post-season. He’s at his best when he has a strong puck possession team in front of him, and he’s just relied on to make the big saves… not like 30 big saves a night.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      Yeah, Crow needs to play better, but so does the team in front of him. When Jeff Carter is allowed to park his ass in the crease unchallenged long enough to have a hot dog and a Miller Lite while waiting for the puck, it’s hard to lay all the blame on the G.

    • PE-TER RE-GIN

      Crow hasn’t had to be a goalie who has had to carry a team though a playoff run, because the team in front of him typically does enough to allow Crow to be “good” instead of “worldbeating” every night. Not to take all blame from Crow (because he is owed some), the team D just needs to be better too. I’d like to see The Accountant in for Rozi. Too many guys, forwards and defensemen, are getting caught watching and standing flat footed. Everyone needs to be aware at all times.

  • Research Analysis

    As the Hawks prepare for their most important game of the season, thanks once again for the insights and analysis. It is unmatched anywhere, although I sense that TCI is starting to have an effect on the Tribune, who even used “pissed off” in a column.

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    You know, having 2 in 4 years has not done as much to relieve the pressure as I thought it would.

    • birdhead

      If they lose I’ll get over it pretty quick and say, well, repeating is fucking difficult and getting to the WCF is something to be proud of. But while the series is actually going on I can’t quite get that emotional perspective.

      • DJ

        Losing in the WCF would be galling; a missed opportunity. But we’re well positioned to challenge for several more seasons at least, so the anger wouldn’t (or oughtn’t) last too long.

        • birdhead

          I’d rather lose in the WCF than in the first two rounds.

          • Hawkeytalk

            This x1000

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

          Only thought here is that you’ve navigated the regular season, you’re still at relatively full strength in terms of roster (no catastrophic injuries, etc). You can’t assume you’ll be back at the same spot next year (I really wouldn’t mind it if we were). So you’re here might as well take advantage of the fact that you are here and win the damn thing

      • lizmcneill

        I don’t want the Kings to win this year because then they’ll have bested our 2 Cups in 4. Also it’s a bit of a waste of a year where they got past the Blues, now the chances of that have become a frustrating annual hurdle.

        • birdhead

          Hah, well, your point about the Blues is well-taken.

        • Hawkeytalk

          Yeah, it’d be nice, but if the hawks do lose, there’s fuck all that can take the delicious beauty of the two cups away. The Kings are a good team and all, but we drew more people to Grant Park than the freaking pope. So the hawks mean more to more people than the kings ever will. Spoken by a life long Chicago fan of course.

          Oh, and fuck Scum Jr.

        • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

          Agreed, but don’t want to root for NYR either….

          Best way to avoid starts with a win tonight.

      • TitanTransistor

        It would sting a little more than it normally would this year, because if the Hawks could get past the Kings, the odds of winning the cup are REALLY high (looking at the competition out East).

        • lizmcneill

          Lundqvist though. If there’s a goalie that can stand on his head all the way to a Cup….

  • PE-TER RE-GIN

    Please, Q. Please make some lineup changes. Do it for America.

  • I Remember The Roar!

    So, is the consensus that Sharpie is injured, worn out from the season, or just showing some age? (all of the above?) Simple statistics would indicate the he had a solid regular season, so I’m not sure where that leaves us for the playoff run or future seasons. For now though, and this may sound way too 2011, but Sharp to 2C? Maybe jump start him and the “second” line?

    29-19-88
    28-10-81
    20-12-65
    26-16-11/42/52

    • I Remember The Roar!

      (This coaching thing sure is easy!)

    • PE-TER RE-GIN

      I’d rather see Smith at 2C for an extended period. Sharp has just not been good these playoffs, in general. I’ve really liked Smith and Saad’s play throughout the run, and I’m supportive of a 20-28-81 second line. I know Sharp with Regin and Versteeg was a disaster, but I think there are ways you could work him into a third or fourth line. Sharp is valuable, but his lack of…something is causing problems on the top six (not as great as the problems Zus at 2C is causing, but I digress).

      • birdhead

        I actually thought Sharp had a pretty good first series. He and Hoss both got the “playing well but not getting the bounces” tag, didn’t they?

        • PE-TER RE-GIN

          I didn’t think Sharp was spectacular, so maybe he was tagged with the “bad bounces” label too. I just don’t think he’s at 100 percent, and I think it’s detrimental to the top six right now.

          • birdhead

            I’d rather have him in the top 6 than the bottom 6. Top 6 there’s a chance he can find it again – especially if he’s up with Toews and Hossa, or say Kane and Regin if Regin gets a bit of a kick. Or Smith if it’s Smith. I thought Sharpy had an OK game last game, too.

          • PE-TER RE-GIN

            That’s not a bad point. I just feel like he would’ve found it already on the top six, at least a little bit. He did play with Regin on the third line, but it obviously didn’t work with Steeg on the other wing. I still wouldn’t be opposed to putting Sharp and Regin together with someone else though, whether it’s a second or third line.

      • I Remember The Roar!

        I wouldn’t turn that down either – I’ve been happy with Smith, especially this series.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      Sharpie is a well known streak scorer. Hopefully he starts a hot streak tonight.

  • Captain Cornhole

    If playing in the Olympics is why Oduya and Sharp are having bad postseasons, how do you explain the performances of Doughty, Carter, and Hossa?

  • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

    I don’t know about the 32 thing, plus Sharp played, what, 3 meaningful Olympic games, and how many minutes in each, a dozen?

    Of just the four remaining teams, you have at forward:

    Briere 36
    Bourque 32
    Moen 32
    Gionta 35
    Hossa 35
    Williams 32
    Gaborik 32
    Richards 34
    St Louis 38
    Moore 33
    … and a few at 31

    He’s not been effective, but if it’s an empty tank then it’s poor conditioning, not age, imo, and I seriously doubt it’s poor conditioning. A notoriously streaky player, he’s slumping at the wrong time. Let’s hope he picks tonight to begin the balancing.

    Let’s hope our special teams and Q’s lines do the trick, too.

    • birdhead

      “A notoriously streaky player” is this not synonymous with “goal scorer”?

      • lizmcneill

        Indeed.

      • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

        Pretty much. But Sharp, says my pattern-seeking brain, tends toward longer periods of feast and famine? I’m not searching for data, I don’t mind if I’m wrong; my only real point is maybe it’s time for him to go the other way, and I don’t think he’s old and tired.

        • birdhead

          I don’t know and I am also too lazy to figure it out :P But I agree with your broader point.

  • ShotsFired

    The Hawks are looking both old and tired against the Kings. Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t, but they need to put some jump on the ice and stop arriving at the puck a beat behind a King. Especially in the defensive end. Wake the f*** up boys!!!!

    • Hawkeytalk

      Dunno, watching game 3 it looked like the hawks carried the play for fairly long stretches, but didn’t score on their chances. Kings OTOH took advantage of lots of their chances. TBH, I did not watch games 1 or 2, but listening to 1 on the radio, again, the hawks seemed in control.

      Game, LAK. Still remains to be seen if it’s set and match.

      • I Remember The Roar!

        The scary thing for me is that the Hawks have done nothing (aside from a goal with the goalie pulled) from behind. Once the Kings got the lead in Game 3, the Hawks didn’t do squat. We still have the ability to pull this series out, but we need to show something special tonight.

  • lizmcneill

    Sharpy looked pretty meh last season and he bounced back from that. Are you saying he should be traded?

    • I Remember The Roar!

      Trading Sharp would be a hard pill to swallow.

      On a slightly different note though, do we have anyone in the system that plays Sharp’s type of game?

      • lizmcneill

        JMo’s a shooter, but he looks like he tops out as 2/3 tweener 20-goal guy (although you never know, see Sharpy’s career history)

    • TitanTransistor

      I didn’t read it like that, I read it more as ‘Sharp is getting older, that’s a major role in the top 6 we need to start thinking about filling when he’s gone’.

      That said, if trading Sharp could maybe help get an elite 2C? It would have to be part of a great deal though.

      • lizmcneill

        If we’re trading for a 2C he’d better be relatively young and cheap (ie, RFA-aged) for it to be worth it.

        • TitanTransistor

          Agreed.

          He’s not available, but somebody in the Turris mold would be great.

          • lizmcneill

            We could have had Turris, but I like who we got better.

            Actually, wasn’t Rundblad traded for Turris at some point?

          • 2883

            Turris turned out to be a steal because he rebounded in a way that Rundblad hasn’t. Rundblad was acquired in a similar way to Turris. Turris panned out, Rundblad hasn’t…. It’d be a huge risk to make that deal.

  • birdhead

    “Chris Kuc ‏@ChrisKuc 54s
    #Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville won’t reveal any lineup changes for Game 4 vs. Kings.”

    this kind of gamesmanship feels like such a bad sign for team mood/confidence/morale/what the fuck ever.

    • YoAdrienne

      Why should he show his hand this far ahead of time?

      • birdhead

        Why does he usually?

        • YoAdrienne

          Maybe he’s aware of all of the excessive hand-wringing and and arm chair coaching going on, and it’s his way of rolling his eyes and shaking his head. It kind of doesn’t matter, anyway, because at least half of the cat is out of the bag. I’m sure he’s playing some sort of head game, but I’m reading too much into it.

    • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

      There are no signs either good or bad, but people make them so.

      • birdhead

        It’s the deviation from routine. IDK.

    • DJ

      Please. The team itself knew the lines well in advance. That’s all that matters.

  • YoAdrienne

    “Chris Kuc@ChrisKuc 2m
    Look for Peter Regin to replace Brandon Bollig in #Blackhawks’ lineup for Game 4 vs. Kings.”

    Ta da!!!

    • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

      Oh my flying spaghetti monster. Maybe the stupid penalties have finally gone too far.

      • Bannerman

        You misspelled Hossa in that first sentence. Pretty badly too.

        • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

          There are lots of silent letters in the Slovakian language (and in a different order).

    • I Remember The Roar!

      Upboat x1000

      With the right players (or at least one step closer for the Morin-lovers), it’s time for those players to prove that they deserve to make it back to the SCF.

    • PE-TER RE-GIN

      Regin replaces Zus who replaces Bollig? I’ll take that.

      • YoAdrienne

        It says Regin replaces Bollig. I don’t know who, if anyone will replace Zus.

        • PE-TER RE-GIN

          Oh I know. I’m just being hopeful.

    • DJ

      Please let it be so.

    • TitanTransistor

      I literally just fist-pumped.

  • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

    Let’s bring out the dark and brooding Crow to smack the Kings.

    http://media.giphy.com/media/yNnK6xlzKwDWo/giphy.gif

  • YoAdrienne

    “Chris Kuc@ChrisKuc 5m
    Also, looks like #Blackhawks’ top line against Kings in Game 4 will be Bickell–Toews–Kane. Second line: Sharp–Kruger–Hossa.”

    I’m going to take a wild guess and say that Zus is on Line 4.

    • Bannerman

      Will we see the Zus Regin Versteeg “fuck it” line? I kinda like the idea of Saad Smith and Shaw.

      • birdhead

        awkward obvious nickname for that line but I like the idea of it too. But I bet it’s Zus-Smith-regin, Saad Shaw Versteeg.

        • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

          I’m not sure how to make this work, but maybe the Saad-Shaw-Steeg or Saad-Smith-Shaw line can be Sir Hiss from Disney’s Robin Hood. I guess if any variation on the SSS can earn the nickname, as soon as one of them steps up to deserve it (and before Q blenders it into oblivion).

          http://www.corksandcaftans.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/16993-16138.gif

      • Jim

        I like our chances a whole lot better.

        Bollig is like that employee that everyone knows sucks. But the manager that hired him won’t fire him, because it’s an admission he made a mistake. I hate office politics, because they they are ego based and not success based.

    • Jim

      I like it. It gives us our best chance.

      1st line is money. 2nd line will slow the Kings down a bit. Bottom 2 lines look better to me with Bollig sitting out.

      It’s on.

  • ahnfire

    Time for all the Game 4 changes. What have we got so far?

    No Bollig, Regin in.
    Kruger to 2C.
    DDN + Bicks.

    • I Remember The Roar!

      The coaching moves have been made (we’ll see how long it takes to shake the lines back up). It’s time for the players to play!

    • Hawkeytalk

      Omg so full of win.

    • CozBullsFan

      Zeus still in? For shame.

      • Hawkeytalk

        4th line and PK. I think we all can live with that.

      • YoAdrienne

        We don’t know yet. But, I don’t have a problem with him being in, as long as it’s not at 2C. I suspect he’ll be part of the 4th line, which rarely gets more than 5-8 minutes. I’d hate to lose him on the PK, because he’s usually pretty good there. The last game excepted.

      • PE-TER RE-GIN

        Little victories, Coz.

        • CozBullsFan

          I guess. Still a glaring issue with LA having last change.

          • PE-TER RE-GIN

            I’m curious to see how those bottom two lines are going to be organized. We don’t have to see much of Zus…he can be the new Bollig.

            Meh.

      • I Remember The Roar!

        As long as he stays out of the box, it’s not bad.

    • Guest

      Meh, pic didn’t show up. Still learning.

    • PE-TER RE-GIN

      Approve!

    • 2883

      This is what everyone pined for. How long does it last?

      • VerStig

        At least Q can’t sub Bollig in during the game

      • ahnfire

        the pining or the lines?

        either way…2nd shift in for each line.

  • TitanTransistor

    Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc

    Also, looks like #Blackhawks’ top line against Kings in Game 4 will be Bickell–Toews–Kane. Second line: Sharp–Kruger–Hossa.

    Prayers = answered.

    Well, except for Kruger being up there. That seems like a silly decision to me.

    Still, net positive.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      Give it a couple of shifts.

      • PE-TER RE-GIN

        I think we’ve given Disqus more than a couple shifts :p

  • HossaTheWhite

    Long time lurker here and I’ll likely regress to the shadow realm after this post, but tonight I’m feeling it. Nothing is fucked. Let’s go Hawks!

    • CozBullsFan

      Welcome to the fray!

    • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

      Yeah, I thought I would fade away after ‘just a few posts,’ too. Jump in with both feet and enjoy the ride. ;-)

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      You are now part of the collective. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated….

      … and we have scotch… :)

  • 2883

    The Hawks have to shut down the 70s line… they’re killing us

    • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

      Disco Demolition Night (as an alternative definition for DDN) could mark the end of That 70s Show.

      • lizmcneill

        wonder if that’s what the Slovakian Frog combo is designed for.

        Toews can shut down all comers, but Frogger needs some help.

        • PE-TER RE-GIN

          Kruger went 5-1 at the dot last game. You figure he’ll see a lot of Stoll tonight?

          • lizmcneill

            Depends on what matchups Sutter wants. My guess is Q wants him on Carter and let Zus/Ben/Mutt/Regin take Stoll (we’re not really short on centers. We just have lots of 3Cs and 4Cs. And Best 1C, ofc).

        • 2883

          Slovak Frogger Sharp? I would imagine that they’d be happy if they could get that matchup, The 70s line is big.

  • Marian Brossa

    Well, friends, I know that I’m always taking the happy pills when it comes to this kind of thing, but the way I look at it there’s one of two outcomes:
    1) Hawks win tonight, and, since they’re not scheduled to lose another home playoff game for another 8 games or so, win the series.
    2) Hawks lose tonight, but with the two remaining home games spoken for… And with LA only being about 500 at home in the playoffs… the series becomes a toss up.

    75% chance the Hawks are through to the cup final. Math. I don’t know how anyone could be against advanced stats when they offer us this kind of comfort.

    • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

      I like it. Word math.

  • Bruno_the_Blackhawk_Cat

    Of course NBCSN would highlight that the Hawks outhit the Kings. But, oh my, Milbury actually brought up something intelligent in that if the Hawks are leading in hits, that means they’re losing the possession battle. I guess even a blind squirrel finds the nut eventually.

  • birdhead

    lmao apparently lines in warmups via laz:

    “#Blackhawks lines: Bickell-Toews-Hossa, Sharp-Handzus-Kane, Saad-Shaw-Versteeg, Bollig-Kruger-Smith. A Q ploy, perhaps? Or the real deal?”

    So uh, I guess we talked a lot about nothing

    • CozBullsFan

      :/

    • me

      are you fucking kidding me???!!!

    • YoAdrienne

      Tracey Meyers says still no roster report, so who the hell knows?

      • CozBullsFan

        I think I would have to go with Meyers on this one.

    • PE-TER RE-GIN

      Where were we getting those reports from earlier? Of Regin for Bollig and Kruger at 2C?

      • birdhead

        That was from Kuc but Laz tweeted similar. NOBODY KNOWS WHAT’S HAPPENING. Let’s all lol about it.

    • I Remember The Roar!

      Let the anxiety and confusion build…

    • ahnfire
  • ballyb11

    Let’s Go Hawks!!!!

    • CozBullsFan

      Hi bally!

  • YoAdrienne

    Kuc is saying Bollig out, Regin in. Brookbank, Morin, Nordstrom also scratched.

    • YoAdrienne

      Also 29-29-88 start.

      • I Remember The Roar!

        Bicks is a beast!

      • CozBullsFan

        Two Bicks? LA is doomed!

  • ahnfire
  • 2883

    I am coming close to violating my one betting rule, never bet on a game where you care about the outcome.

  • CozBullsFan

    Much better choice for the anthem.

  • 2883

    WHY do we ice it? great move by Kane good defensive play by 8

  • 2883

    Stupid icing again.

  • 2883

    LOL Hawks Suck? Really?

  • halojumper

    This is after the 5 -2 loss. While in LA did somebody put imposters in the Hawks uniforms? I noticed in game 3 the Blackhawks bench looked a little shellshocked, while the Kings looked loose and having fun. If the Hawks lose the series is there any solace knowing that Darryl Sutter was a Blackhawk (not really). The Hawks seem to be playing way below their talent level. C’mon Hawks just like in Warren Zevons song the hockey song “hit sonebody” but score too!