The coaching staff
This was a regular post I did at NBC, and usually it was playing with some metrics or stats that aren't talked about in your mainstream coverage of the Hawks. But considering the time of year and what's at stake, and making a clean break from NBC, today's post will just be all the scenarios that can play out over the next two nights. Yes, the lone game on tonight's NHL schedule has some meaning for the Hawks.
Let's do the easy part then. For the Hawks, pretty simple. Win in regulation in Little Beirut On The River, and it's off to Music City next Wednesday or Thursday for Game 1. Don't do that, and we'll just have to wait for Saturday night to play out before we find out where the Hawks late-starting Game 1 will be.
And this is where the fun begins. The simplest formula here is that if Phoenix wins tonight in St. Louis and tomorrow in Minnesota, they're Pacific champs and Hawks fans will get the pleasure of breaking up their Sea of White with huge red blotches that Scum fans have done the past two years. Could be interesting.
If they don't win out, then this is going to get pretty funny. If the Coyotes pick up three points from these four on offer, with the two points coming in a regulation or overtime win, they cannot be caught by the Sharks, as they will have 35 ROW to San Jose's current 33 and possibly 34 with a win over LA on Saturday. If the Kings and Yotes tie on points and ROW, the Kings will get the tiebreaker as they have more points in the games between the Coyotes and Kings. I think five of them went to OT at least. However, if the Yotes win in a shootout and gain another point in these two games, and the Kings win in San Jose, the Kings would have a greater ROW and win the division. However, if the Yotes gain their three points by a shootout, and the Sharks beat the Kings on Saturday in regulation or OT, the Sharks and Yotes will be tied on points and ROW. The Coyotes win the next tiebreaker there, as they have more points in the games between PHX and SJ.
I know you're getting dizzy now, but hang on, we're almost done.
If the Coyotes only manage two points in these next two games, they can't win the division because with the Sharks and Kings playing each other, one of them is going to get to 96. Should the Yotes bat .500 or worse this weekend, then it gets pretty simple. Whoever wins Saturday night in The Tank is your Pacific Division "winner" and could possibly face the Hawks...if the Hawks don't win in Detroit. Got it?
I know you'll spend most of the weekend trying to figure out who you want the Hawks to face. I bet the following questions and more will bounce around your skull: Is Mike Smith really ready to be a playoff monster in his first crack at it? Do the Yotes have enough firepower to scare? Can Jonathan Quick be solved? Are the Kings too physical for the Hawks? Could the Sharks be scary if Thornton and Marleau actually come to the dance? How much would you laugh at Jesse Rogers if the Hawks light up Niemi? Dear god, please don't let it be Nashville..
Here's what you should be hoping for: That a rejuvenated Duncan Keith finds Norris form, that Toews is completely healthy and won't be sent back to the closet by a stiff breeze, that Corey Crawford maintains what has been some pretty solid fucking form the past month, that somehow the special teams are electro-shocked into anything resembling coherence. Some of those are likely, some of those are stretches, some of those are in between. But if most or all of them happen, the Hawks should fear no one and can beat anyone.