For the first time since Game 7 last may, the Red Wings will visit United Center ice. Between then and now, more than a couple events of note have happened, including the Wings’ long-awaited move to the Eastern Confrence so that the people of Detroit don’t have to stay up late watching their team and risk not being on time the next morning for the jobs they don’t have.
The thought behind the Wings’ move to the East was also that it might squeeze a last little bit of life out of what’s left of this core, considering that they took a record-setting Juggernaut to the brink last year. But things haven’t necessarily worked out that way. As the injuries have piled up, Scum now find themselves two points out of the final wild card playoff position in the east, which is truly an accomplishment in and of itself.
It hasn’t helped that both Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have both been injured, and neither will play tonight. In an effort to fill that void at center, genius Ken Holland overpaid for the privilege of renting David Legwand’s unfortunate face. Johan Franzen has also missed substantial time, though he did recently publicly humiliate Chris Neil, marking the first positive contribution he’s made to society in his adult life. Darren Helm can’t get healthy either, despite apparently being the second coming of the messiah. What’s been left is a smattering of over-baked kids from Grand Rapids and the zombie criminal corpse of Todd Bertuzzi.
The blue line has been just as inauspicious, with Niklas Kronwall anchoring a unit (while flying through the air, an impressive feat) that sorely missed the contributions of Jonathan Ericsson. That basically tells anyone with a cursory knowledge of the situation just what state it’s in. Scum has gotten serviceable goaltending from Jimmy Howard, Jonas Gustavsson, and Petr Mrazec (who would like to buy a vowel) who are all hovering around a .915 save percentage. Carrying a barely positive Corsi share and only barely outshooting their opponents 30.4 to 29.6 is apparently enough to potentially sink this ship, especially with a lack of finishers up front because they’re all hurt.
As for our Men of Four Feathers, not only did they deserve to lose Friday night’s game because they essentially tanked Wednesday, they also deserved to lose it because they were sloppy against one of the teams in the league that will make you pay for it no matter how down on their luck they might be. With 15 to go and now 9 back of the Blues, dreams of the division are basically over. And the focus should be trying to overtake the Avs and at least get home ice in the first round anyway, since they’re still above the Hawks in the standings as well.
Marian Hossa figures to be back in the lineup today, and should that happen his presence will have a cascading effect down the lineup. Frankly any changes are welcome after seeing Michal Handzus and Ben Smith center Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp at different times on Friday, and the thought that that will cut it against teams as strong down the middle as the Sharks is infuriatingly laughable. Even if Teuvo Time draws nearer and yes he’s all of 150lbs in full gear, he certainly can’t be any worse of an option than what Quenneville has had the temerity to pass off as a #2C for the majority of his time in Chicago.
Once again, this is a floundering Scum squad and should by all rights be mercilessly stomped by this Hawks team, especially with Hossa back. But Mike Babcock has a habit of making Joel Quenneville look stupid, and the Hawks can ill-afford any more pissed away points at this stage of the season. Do your fucking jobs. Let’s go Hawks.