It's Hockey Day in America, and the only way I can enjoy it is by using the mute button. I'm serious. When I saw that NBC picked this game up, I cringed.
Steve Lepore pointed out that they ignored the Kings to slobber all over the Red Wings last time out but honestly, I don't mind that as much. If they don't spend any time on the Kings, they'll have fewer dumb things to say about them. Right?
I've found the bright side! Let's look at the rosters.
Time: 12:30 PM Pacific
TV: NBC, TSN2
Enemy reading: Second City Hockey
Blackhawks projected lines:
Kings projected lines:
- The Blackhawks have the best record in hockey (11-0-3) while the Kings have just broken even. What's been the difference? Chicago is a good puck possession team which has had nearly all the bounces go their way (shooting over 11%, when league average is 8-9%). The Kings are an even stronger puck possession team who haven't been nearly as lucky, sporting the second worst PDO in the league. To top it off, they haven't made up ground on special teams. They are better than their record, but it's crunch time. (Read more about PDO as a measurement of luck here.)
- Despite below-average goaltending and shooting percentages, the Kings have made strides lately. This game will be another challenge for the young defense, still without Martinez, Mitchell, and Greene. Chicago is a speedy team on playing on their home turf with all the confidence in the world. Turnovers must be avoided.
- Drew Doughty's plus/minus is terrible! Except you shouldn't be using that to measure his play. The team is good at limiting shots (25/game) and chances (9 per game), so this largely comes down to Quick's performance at even strength. We can look up how many saves the goalies have made behind of individual players. Here we can see that Drew Doughty, who's logged the most minutes at evens, has only had Quick and Bernier stop pucks 85% of the time when he's on the ice. That is likely going to change. Don't use plus/minus alone to evaluate players -- especially when Quick's not performing up to snuff. That goes for you too, NBC.
- Jon Rosen at the Insider thinks Quick will get the start tonight, and I agree. Bernier has the hot hand, but Sutter doesn't want Quick to get too rusty. He needs both of them sharp for the coming schedule. Crawford is day-to-day, so we expect Emery on the other side.
- After many more games on the road than at home, Quick recently got to spend a lot of time with Ranford, the goalie coach. Hopefully that will help him get back on track. We know he can be better.
It's big and heavy vs. skilled and speedy. Let's hope they get revenge for their last outing. Score score score.