Bye Week’s Over, Welcome to the Stretch: Blackhawks @ Oilers

Oilers hockey is back, baby!

Ya here we go boys! The Oilers bye week is officially over. Eberle was held pointless. Honestly, I was expecting to come back to much worse after five days off, and that’s not really the case.

Six up on the Kings. Seven up on the Flames with a game in hand.

And probably most surprisingly, just two back of the Ducks with a game in hand. Now, the Oil are back—rested, and ready for the most important stretch this team has faced since Tambo traded for Jerred Smithson and we lost basically every game which knocked us out of the playoffs and got Ralph fired over Skype.

Lineup

Even a missed flight can’t stop the Iceman from comething:

And even better news for a city that quite frankly needs it after that Merch debacle last night, newly-engaged Matty Vegas is scheduled to make his return following his IR activation this morning:

Tonight’s Opponent

Patty Kane titty shot night!

Why They Stink

I remember the days where outdoor games used to be much watch TV and then Bettman and the NHL started putting the Blackhawks in literally all of them and now nobody watches anymore. Back-to-back-to-back lowest ratings in Winter Classic history:

I completely forgot about two of those Winter Classics. I forgot they played the Capitals in 2015. I actually had no idea they played the Wild in 2016. And by next month, I’ll have forgotten they played the Blues in 2017. The Hawks have actually hosted two Winter Classics in two different stadiums. Next year, in a bold move not seen since the MacT era, Bettman will proudly announce that Chicago will host the Hawks at Guaranteed Rate Stadium.

Why Their Fans Stink

This is a quote from a 2007 article on the Hawks:

Frank Pellico is the Chicago Blackhawks’ longtime organist, which means he usually gets to play in front of thousands of empty red seats at the United Center and for a mediocre team that often disappoints the fans who do show up.

“Well, each game is brand new to us,” Pellico said cheerfully last Sunday on a snowy, windswept afternoon in Chicago. “We have to do each game like we’re in first place. Nobody backs down. I don’t see many down people at all.”

Pellico excused himself because he was supposed to start playing 90 minutes before the game, when the arena gates opened. In this instance, Pellico played for 15 minutes before any people found their seats. A Blackhawks game rarely creates a stampede.

Only 11,182 would come to watch the Blackhawks end a 10-game losing streak by beating Calgary. It was the 12th crowd of less than 12,000 in the 27 games that the Blackhawks played this season at the United Center, which seats 20,500 for hockey.

But because 2 million people showed up to watch their 2013 Cup parade, we’re ready to hail them as the messiah of hockey fans. Martin Lapointe and Adrian Aucoin were your captains for the two years prior to Toews. I’ve linked their hockeydb pages so you can find out who they are.

Which Hawk Stinks

After 10 points in his first 10 games, Dick Panik has extremely cooled off. The 26 going on 40 year old has just 14 in his last 46, a stretch that including him having just one point in 16 games.

 

Why They Might Not Stink

NHL team of the decade, that’s all.

The Roundup

Good guy Scotty Darling gets the call for the Hawks on the second half of a back-to-back after Craw and the Hawks dismantled the Jets in the MTS Leisure Centre last night. Darling has never started a game against the Oilers in his career. Connor is well-rested (presumably… looking at you, Queen Lauren) and looking to reclaim his title as sole-possessing scoring king. Speaking of:

Miraculously, Sid only tied el Connor in points during the bye. Not to mention do the unthinkable and guide the Oilers into the playoffs for the first time since Sean Paul’s “Temperature” was considered a hit.

This is a team that the Oilers have surprisingly had some success against. We teeth-kicked them 5-0 earlier this year, and have dropped big numbers against them in the past. Chicago’s tired, and the Oilers are rested. And I’d be willing to bet the Louie DeBrusk is calling ‘er tonight. It’s also the first day we’ve had warm weather in what seems like a month. Has the potential to be a nice little Saturday in Edmonton, doesn’t it? Look the hell out, 109th street.

Prediction

6-2 Oilers. Connor with 4. Big Rig with 3. Leon with 2. Matty V gets one in his return. There’s 27 games to go, and hockey’s back in the heartland. Kids, I know you’ve never experienced this before, but enjoy the hell out of this stretch. Go Flyers. Go Caps. And go Oilers.

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