A flurry of games, more overtime nonsense, and the Hawks are basically at .500 with six wins and six losses coming at various times from the third period onward. I can’t say it’s worse than I expected (it’s not, I figured they’d be doing much more poorly than this already), but it does feel like the Preds, Avs and Jets are about to pull away in the division any day now, leaving the Hawks scrambling with the dregs soon enough. And with that cheery thought, let’s see where things are at:
The Dizzying Highs
Corey Crawford – I know it’s been a small sample size, and I realize he gave up a shitload of goals in the St. Louis game the other night (for the record it was 6), but anyone who’s been paying attention to this team knows Crow is making the difference right now, and he will by the linchpin to any attempt at making the playoffs. Even with the crapfest last Saturday, his save percentage is .919. He had to have a truly wretched game to bring it down to middling for the league…this guy hadn’t played in 10 months and had no warm-up time to shake off any rust. And now we know why—there wasn’t any to begin with. In his three wins thus far, Crawford’s SV% was .974, .960, and .947. And he’s doing it with the laughingstock that we call our defense. His positioning has been solid, he’s somehow restrained himself from murdering Brandon Manning yet, hell he even got an assist against the Rangers last week. He’s the hero we need but that we don’t deserve.
The Terrifying Lows
Jan Rutta – What else can be said? This motherfucker is so bad he got benched in the middle of a game and then sent to the press box. His shooting percentage is literally zero, and while that’s obviously not the most important metric for a defenseman early in the season it’s still pretty indicative of how things are going for him. I can throw more numbers at you (his possession sucks at just under 50 CF% when half his zone starts are in the offensive zone, etc. etc.), but do you really want to be reminded? I don’t want to do the reminding either. Suffice it to say Rutta is one of the worst on an already-terrible defense, and Connor Murphy and Gustav Forsling really can’t get healthy soon enough.
The Creamy Middles
Alex DeBrincat – Just as it’s obvious that Rutta sucks, it’s equally obvious that Top Cat is quite good. There could be a case for him in the Dizzying Highs, but I’m saving my adulation for Crawford right now. DeBrincat has had three points in his last five games, and with the exception of the St. Louis Shit Show, the top line has been pretty dominant. He’s running a 56 CF% at evens and a CF Rel of 4.7. Throw in a couple points on the power play, which are hard to come by for this crew, and he’s having a good month so far. Yes we expect him to be this good, but it’s a relief to have that consistently work out.
Alexandre Fortin – It’s a theme of Alexs in the Middles today! Fortnite is starting to warm my cold, black heart. He’s only played nine games but geez if he isn’t the most motivated, eager little thing out there. And he’s holding onto the puck at the right time and the right places. He’s got a 56.1 CF% right now and that’s with nearly 53% of his starts in the defensive zone. Fortin isn’t an elite scorer and I don’t expect he’ll be much more than basically a bottom-six guy, but this team needs depth and if he’s here to provide it, then I’m here for that.