Following a thrilling 2-1 shootout win Monday on Long Island, the Penguins (13-10-6) will look to make it two in a row when they take on the league worst Chicago Blackhawks (9-18-5) tonight with puck drop set for just after 8pm.
You heard that right, the once mighty Blackhawks are the league's worst team right now. The Hawks are the only team in the NHL without double digit wins and are currently riding an eight game losing streak. Eight games. Earlier this year, the Blackhawks stunned the hockey world by firing Head Coach Joel Quenneville. Quenneville had been with the team since 2008 and at the time of his firing was the longest tenured coach in the league. He won three Stanley Cups with Chicago and ranks second all-time in wins as a Head Coach with 890.
The Blackhawks dynasty came crashing back to earth faster than Paul Walker on the way to a charity event. While the Hawks took the approach that it's easier to fire one guy than it is to replace 25, they still should have never let Quenneville go. General Manager Stan Bowman also deserves some blame and here's why:
Jonathan Toews, who I was told is a great leader, is making $10.5m per season to put up less than 70 points and 'lead' his team. Other contracts have hurt Chicago, such as giving aging defenseman Brent Seabrook $6.875M per season through the 2023-2024 campaign, goaltender Corey Crawford was given $6M per season when he can't play without getting hurt, and Duncan Keith was signed to a mega 13 year deal way back in 2009 and makes just over $5.538m per season and will continue to do so until the end of the 2022-2023 season. To be honest, Patrick Kane may be the only player truly worthy of his contact. Kane is on the books for $10.5M AAV through the 2023-2024 season.
Nonetheless, the Hawks have $39,413,462 tied up in just five players Kane, Toews, Keith, Seabrook, and Crawford. For comparison the Penguins have $36,000,000 committed to Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, Letang, and Murray. Murray is due a raise at the end of next season (if he doesn't suck), but the Penguins are in a good spot and have many players on team friendly deals which should enable them to take a few more deep Stanley Cup runs during the Crosby / Malkin era.
Speaking of Matt Murray, he was activated from injured reserve and will backup Casey DeSmith tonight. Matt Cullen is also listed as a game-time decision after he was activated from IR. Patric Hornqvist was placed on IR with his upper-body injury which has sidelined him for the last two games. As a corresponding move, the Penguins sent Tristan Jarry to Wilkes-Barre.
Chris Kunitz, The Return, again.
The Penguins haven't beaten the Blackhawks since March 30th, 2014. I'm pretty sure that's the game Brooks Orpik sent Jonathan Toews to Mars.
Speaking of Toews, did we mention he's a great leader? If we didn't (we did) Sarah Spain can tell you.
Phil Kessel will play his 276th consecutive game for the Penguins, tying some scrub for 4th all-time.
I really don't know 85% of the Hawks roster. Patrick Kane is good though so watch out for him.
If you didn't know, Brandon Saad is from here. You'll likely hear this again 69 times before puck drop so I am trying to prepare you.
The game is on NBCSN so look for Doc Emrick to make a Pirates reference when talking about where Saad is from.
The Pirates suck.
The Steelers suck.
Pitt is Pitt.
Honestly the Penguins are this city's only bright spot.
Bad contracts were mentioned earlier in the gameday, speaking of which, both Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook played their 1,000th career NHL game yesterday in Winnipeg.
The Blackhawks have given up the first goal in 11 consecutive games, look for them to score first tonight.
Casey DeSmith vs Corey Crawford confirmed. Matt Murray is back from his fake injury and will backup.
Cal Clutterbuck is a scumbag. Never forget when he took a run at Letang and Letang sent him to the other side.
Honestly the Blackhawks suck but this is the kind of game the Penguins lose by a lot.
Never forget that Marian Hossa had to quit because he was allergic to his hockey equipment.