I was very resistant to any idea that the Blackhawks were “back” as they were embarking on the win streak a few weeks ago. But as they got within touching distance of a playoff spot (through no major accomplishment of their own, mind you), I started to come around on the idea of playoff hockey for the atmoshphere and excitement. Then this past week happened and this team is back to being who we thought they were, which is a not good team that might be better off in the final field for Jack Hughes than Lord Stanley. Here’s who did what this past week along the way:
The Dizzying Highs
Patrick Kane – Is picking the guy who was on an otherworldly scoring steak a bit lazy? Absolutely. Listen, when you write the Sugar Pile you can be as creative as you want. I also struggle a little bit to find someone who really dominated last week. For the most part the Hawks were not great, but Kane continued to be. He had 6 points in the first three games of the week and then saw his 20 game point streak come to an end on Sunday against Dallas. Up until Sunday he was basically to the point you could consider the Hawks up 1-0 at puck drop because you knew he was getting them a goal one way or another (alas, even with that hypothetical advantage I had low confidence in them).
More than just the scoring, Kane absolutely skull-fucked the opposition on the possession front, only posting a CF below 57% against Detroit. Otherwise? 58.54% against Ottawa, 63.64% (!!!!) against Colorado, and 57.14% against Dallas. Toews was along for the ride for a lot of that, but Kane clearly stole the show by my estimation.
The Terrifying Lows
Collin Delia – Not the most encouraging week for Delia, as he played in just two of the four games and was not great in either. He got just 8 minutes on Monday against Ottawa and managed to give up 3 goals on just 10 shots in that time before getting the yank. None of the goals were exactly horrible, but they also were of the “could have had it but didn’t get it” variety. So we had that, and then he played against Colorado, and the same thing happened. None of the goals were awful, but he got beat pretty easily on seemingly pedestrian breakaway shots, and there was one that was just a straight up bad one by me.
None of this means too much for Delia, who has been overall fine this year but has slowly seen that save percentage creep closer and closer to “oh shit that’s bad” level – he’s at .909 right now. That’s more than serviceable from a first year NHLer, which he is, and it’s more than fine from a backup, which he might be long term. The jury is still out, but we just need to get him back on an upward trajectory after a pretty shitty week.
The Creamy Middles
Cam Ward – While I am loathe to really say anything nice about Ward (mind you, in a week in which he didn’t even have a save percentage that started with a nine, having him as a “middle” is probably quite nice) I have to say he didn’t exactly hurt his case with me last week. In what was just a fucking awful overall hockey game on Monday against Ottawa, he managed to keep the game under a semblance of control and backstopped them to a win. He also wasn’t horrible on Sunday in what was a much more fun and entertaining game. He kept them in that one as well up until they managed to screw it up in the end. I do not give a single shit about Cam Ward, but he was fine last week and his performance is exactly what I think of as “creamy middle” – boring vanilla bullshit that managed to be not good and also not bad.