A couple things to cover today, so let’s get to it.
-The Hawks took back second place last night, as the Avs decided to give Semyon Varlamov a week off and threw J.S. Giguere and Reto Berra out there with a straight face. Which completely exposed just how bad their blue line is as both the Habs and Jets lit them up.
As we know, the Hawks won’t get the tie-breaker due to significantly less regulation wins than the Avs. But the schedule ahead for Colorado is not exactly a popsicle (first of all, it’s Fudge-cical).
It kicks off on Friday when the Avs host the Bruins, who after dropping the first two after Sochi haven’t lost since. That’s 10 in a row, and in only two of those was it even a one-goal game. Needless to say, that’s quite the challenge for the Avalanche and I fully expect the B’s to outshoot them 80-12. They get a soft trip to Nashville and then host Vancouver, who claim they’re chasing a playoff spot but I think we all know better. From there it’s not pretty. They’ll host the Sharks, play both the Jackets and Rangers who are scrapping with each other for playoff spots, go to St. Louis, then host the Penguins. They go up to Edmonton and Vancouver, both of whom should be done at that point. But the season ends for Colorado with a trip to San Jose and then one to Anaheim. Seeing as how those two teams are going to be fighting tooth and nail to win the division and not have to deal with L.A. in the first round, that’s probably not where you want to be. Obviously, finishing the season with the Caps and Preds as the Hawks do is an advantage.
The Hawks will play one more game Sunday before the Avs retake the ice on Tuesday at the same time as the Hawks host the Stars, so you can easily see a scenario where the Hawks could be five points up before Tuesday’s games. Even without Kane, you’d expect the Hawks to find a way past Carolina and Nashville, though the Preds always have other ideas.
-I used to be disgusted, and now I try to be amused. That’s about how I feel regarding the Teuvo Teravainen furor or lack of it. At first, I thought the excitement was misplaced because there are so many challenges for him. But the outright mockery from the beaters even though the coach and GM and organizational stooge Eddie Olczyk are talking the kid up has swung it for me. I’m guardedly excited for his arrival, which comes today. I still can’t quite figure how they’re going to fit him in, but he wouldn’t be flying over here if he wasn’t going to start practicing soon, and he wouldn’t be practicing without being fit in. So I’m guessing Stan has this figured out. I don’t know, it feels like that swing through Boston-Ottawa-Pittsburgh is when he could be unveiled. If not then certainly the first game of April at home against Minnesota is the latest we’ll see him. Let’s see what the kid can do. If nothing else it falls in the “Can’t hurt could help” category.
-I’m always suspicious of the Hawks’ assessment of injuries. But having watched sports for a long time and seeing things repeatedly, I think three-four weeks is about right for what looks like a sprained MCL. I’m not a doctor, I just know that kind of thing is what tends to result in sprained MCLs. These things tend to linger though. You can play in three weeks, but I think it’s likely it won’t be full-strength until next season.
I assume the lineup will stay about the same, with Q attempting to cancel out Versteeg’s drunken waywardness by keeping Toews and Hossa on watch. If Saad returns I would expect him to man the other side of Smith and Bickell. I like the idea of Saad and Smith together, because they played together in Rockford and took games over when they wanted. It’s at least hellacious below the goal line. Shaw-Handzus-Sharp is kind of a mess. Sharp probably flips with Bickell at times. But it’ll keep Regin in the lineup, which is at least better than Brookbank at forward.