The Holiday Road Ahead: 2/4/14-2/10/14 - The Patriotic Edition

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Spor

This is a weekly feature that will run throughout the season on Mondays (and sometimes on Tuesdays). It will briefly recap the last week, preview the upcoming week in Chicago Blackhawks hockey and look at where they sit in terms of playoff contention. Additional snippets, notes, content, blurbs and oddments are subject to change week-to-week. If there is something you want to see included in this, lemme know and I will see what I can do.

There are two games left before the two-week Olympic break. This means this will be the last Holiday Road Ahead until the United States of America brings home the gold. I know all three of you who read this are really upset about this. The Holiday Road Ahead hiatus, that is. Not America bringing home the gold. When America brings home the gold, you probably will not be upset. In fact, America bringing home the gold may in fact make you happy. America.

The Hawks sandwiched two wins around a shootout loss. On Wednesday, the Blackhawks came back from a 2-0 deficit and scored four goals in 10 minutes en route to a 5-2 victory. It was probably one of the best games the Blackhawks have played all year. They ran into a struggling Canucks team and beat them down in their own building, putting up 17 shots in the second period and 40 in total.

Saturday did not go as well for the Hawks. You are not going to believe this, but the Hawks lost a shootout. They got outshot by the Sharks and could not score a second regulation/overtime goal for goaltender Corey Crawford, who stopped 38 of 39 shots. Who cares about the shootout.

Monday night, the Blackhawks put the struggling Kings away midway through the third, defeating them 5-3. Los Angeles dominated the second, but could only manage one goal despite consistently driving play. Despite that, the Blackhawks hung five goals on Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, including one on the power-play. Quick has not been good for a while and he should not be starting for the future gold medal winners in Sochi.

The Chicago Blackhawks finish off their long road trip with a stop in Anaheim on Wednesday and a visit to Glendale on Friday. After that, three weeks off from Blackhawks hockey. Instead we get to watch the United States win the Olympic gold medal for America.

Full Blackhawks fancy stats can be found here.




The Blackhawks play the Anaheim Mighty Morphin Ducks of 90210, Los Angeles, America in their last regular season matchup this year on Wednesday. The Ducks are an even more middle-of-the-road possession team than the last time they played the Hawks, which ended in a 4-2 win for Chicago at United Center. The Ducks currently sit 14th in the league in 5v5 close FF percentage at 50.8. The Ducks still lead the NHL in points. The fact they are hovering right around the 50 percent FF mark makes that seem pretty ridiculous. Their 5v5 close PDO leads the NHL, currently at 103.5. Only one other team is over 103; the Colorado Avalanche. They have ridden an absurdly high 5v5 close team shooting percentage of 10.7 percent. They have scored the second-most goals in the league with 191, only behind the Blackhawks who lead with 205. Basically, the Ducks are a decent team that has benefited from a great deal of luck. It is probably too late in the season for the Ducks to regress to any reasonable number, but overall, the numbers suggest they are seeing better results on the ice than they should be.

Anaheim_ducks_2013-2014_player_usage__1__medium

The Ducks have been in a bit of a funk lately, if you can call 5-5-0 in their last 10 games a real funk. They have lost three of their last four games at home, where they were previously nails. While the Blackhawks are not exactly lighting the world on fire right now, they seem to have caught the Ducks at the best possible time. Taking two points at their expense should leave the Hawks with a pretty good feeling going into the Olympic break. It is too bad this game is inevitably going to end in a shootout loss.

Here is Corey Perry being his dumb self.

Full fancy stats can be found here.


Chicago finishes off the road trip and their season series against the Glendale Coyotes on Friday. The Hawks have won the previous two meetings, one a 5-4 decision at United Center and the other a 5-2 decision at Jobing.com Arena. The Yotes are a relatively average team in terms of fancy stats. They have the 18th-highest 5v5 close 5v5 percentage at 49.5 percent. Their power-play scores 20 percent of the time, although they are mediocre at generating shots on the power-play. Their penalty-kill is abysmal in terms of percent of penalties killed, but are a little bit better at preventing shots when short-handed. Much like the franchise as a whole, they are pretty forgettable in terms of just about everything they do.

Phoenix_coyotes_2013-2014_player_usage_medium

Like years past, the Coyotes have been able to stick around the playoff hunt without anybody on their roster that truly inspires fear. Other than Shane Doan, who strikes fear of his flying elbows into the hearts and heads of the opposition. They are one point behind the Vancouver Canucks for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference with three games in hand. Like years past, they are going to bore the opposition to death with coach Dave Tippett's defense-oriented system. The Hawks have done a pretty good job of breaking out against the Yotes' annoying system and beating them on the rush in the recent past so hopefully they can continue that trend on Friday. (If those links did not work, check out the Brandon Saad goal and the Marian Hossa goal)

Mike Smith has been really bad this year and that is just the best. His overall and even-strength save percentages both rank among some of the worst in the league. The current stick smash over/under is set at 1.5 for Friday.

Full fancy stats can be found here.

Standings

Central Standings

GP W L OTL PT
Chicago 58 34 10 14 82
St. Louis 54 37 12 5 79
Colorado 56 36 15 5 77
Minnesota 58 30 21 7 67
Winnipeg 58 28 25 5 61
Dallas 55 25 21 9 59
Nashville 57 25 23 9 59

(updated 2.4.2014 at 9:37 PM CST)



Western Standings

GP W-L-OT Pts
Anaheim Ducks 58 40-13-5 85
Chicago Blackhawks 58 34-10-14 82
St. Louis Blues 54 37-12-5 79
Colorado Avalanche 55 36-14-5 77
San Jose Sharks 57 35-16-6 76
Los Angeles Kings 58 30-22-6 66
Minnesota Wild 57 29-21-7 65
Vancouver Canucks 57 27-21-9 63
Phoenix Coyotes 55 26-19-10 62
Dallas Stars 55 25-21-9 59
Nashville Predators 57 25-23-9 59
Winnipeg Jets 57 27-25-5 59
Calgary Flames 55 21-27-7 49
Edmonton Oilers 58 19-33-6 44

Not a ton has changed since last week, but the Minnesota Wild have leapfrogged the Vancouver Canucks and the Dallas Stars have creeped closer to a wild card spot. Going into the break with the division lead and possibly the conference lead would be mighty nice.

#Cool thing of the week

Wild forward and beautiful person Zach Parise was named captain of Team USA. St. Louis Blues forward David Backes was not even given an alternate captain designation. The two alternate captains will be Wild defenseman Ryan Suter and Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown. Full story here.

Nebraska "fun" fact of the week

The Henry Doorly Zoo located in Omaha, Neb., is the largest zoo in the world and was named the best zoo in the world by TripAdvisor.

A milestone along the road

Just over 100 more views until is reaches 10,000.


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