Whatever the explanation — the return of Corey Crawford after he tested positive for COVID-19, having Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on fresh legs, an impressive exhibition tuneup victory over the Blues, or a combination thereof — the Blackhawks seem to have a good collective vibe heading into their best-of-five series against the Oilers in Edmonton.
“I think everyone feels very comfortable now and excited for Saturday,” coach Jeremy Colliton said.
They aren’t the only ones with a positive view of the Hawks’ road ahead.
“Polling Place” — your weekly home for Sun-Times sports polls on Twitter — asked how the Hawks, the 12th and final team in the Western Conference postseason mix, will fare against Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the rest of an Oilers group that was, when the NHL put things on hold in March, 11 points better in the standings.
No doubt, the Oilers are the favorites in this series. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this being Hawks territory and all, a majority of voters didn’t see it that way. We have no way to prove that every one of these pro-Hawks voters has “Chelsea Dagger” as his or her ringtone, but it’s a strong suspicion.
Also, we asked about baseball without fans as a TV product and about the NFL preseason. This year, those preseason games have all been called off. What good are they, anyway?
“The preseason is not for fans,” @scottbears85 commented. “It is for coaches to evaluate the roster. [Over] four preseason games, your starters play about one game. If you don’t like it, don’t watch.”
Don’t watch? As if we have something better to do even in non-pandemic times.
On to the polls:
Poll No. 1: Blackhawks-Oilers, best of 5, beginning Saturday: Who wins?
“Polling Place” – your weekly home for @suntimes sports polls on Twitter – is back. V-O-T-E! Selected comments will appear in our Sports Saturday print edition.— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) July 30, 2020
QUESTION 1: Blackhawks-Oilers, best of 5, beginning Saturday: Who wins?
Upshot: The Hawks won two of three in the teams’ regular-season series, which means next to nothing. Is it possible the Hawks’ and Oilers’ records through 70 and 71 games, respectively, mean next to nothing, too? That’s the kind of dismissive talk we’re hearing from inside the Edmonton bubble, anyway. If there is a clear advantage in the Hawks’ favor, it’s in postseason experience (although a skeptic might point out that their experience hasn’t helped them win a single playoff round since their last Stanley Cup title in 2015). And the old dudes shall lead them.
Poll No. 2: What’s your early assessment of baseball as a TV product, given the coronavirus-related circumstances?
QUESTION 2: What's your early assessment of baseball as a TV product, given the coronavirus-related circumstances?— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) July 30, 2020
Upshot: “Fox’s electronic fans in the bleachers are not fooling anyone,” @GregArcus wrote. Fooling, no, but are pretend fans, fake crowd noise and other broadcast enhancements contributing to — or at least not detracting from — a decent enough viewing experience? Most voters are, it seems, going with it just fine. By the way, imagine how poorly this poll question would’ve been received if Comcast were still a Marquee-free zone.
Poll No. 3: The NFL has called off all 2020 preseason games. Should this be a permanent thing?
QUESTION 3: The NFL has called off all 2020 preseason games. Should this be a permanent thing?— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) July 30, 2020
Upshot: Clearly, Bears preseason games are about as savored by voters as a half-cooked Polish sausage. We’ll give the floor to @chris_burbano: “I think the preseason can be shorter going forward, especially with another regular-season game added [as soon as 2021]. However, I like undrafted free agents getting a shot to show off and fans [getting] a chance to see the rookies.”