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Atop the Sugar Pile – So the Lesson is, Never Try

The Hawks are in a weird spot right now, and that’s being downright generous. They’ve lost seven in a row and perhaps you heard something about a recent coaching change? Oh, you haven’t? Well, let me assure that everyone around Chicago took it very well and no one is overreacting or furious or aghast in any way. Yet in the midst of these chaotic times we still need to parse who’s doing what and how (we’re self-hating masochists to do this but you knew that already). So let’s take a look:

The Dizzying Highs

Patrick Kane: Kane’s give-a-shit level was down around -50 for much of the early part of the season, but whether he wants to or not, he’s had to shoulder more of a load (literally) and is one of the few bright spots on this team right now. Colliton has been leaning on Kane for minutes—his TOI jumped up nearly 10 minutes from Quenneville’s last game in Calgary to Colliton’s first at the UC against Carolina. Kane had a goal and as assist in that game, and if you ignore the fact that neither he nor anyone else did jack shit against Philly yesterday, Garbage Dick has four points in his last five games. He’s also been kept on the ice for the entire power play a few times in this brave new Colliton era. Again, this hasn’t resulted in an offensive explosion quite yet but he belongs out there…and so much the better with some right-handed shots finally. Kane’s shooting percentage is a robust 16.9 right now, so you’d have to think that if Colliton keeps him out there as he’s been doing—both on the power play and at the even-strength minutes—then Kane’s points total, which is already leading the team at 21, will only go up. At least that’s what we can hope.

The Terrifying Lows

The Entire Defense: You know what, at this point I almost feel bad for Brandon Manning. Almost. He’s admitted publicly that he sucks, acknowledged that he was struggling with Q ignoring him, and said that he’s looking for a fresh start. And then he gets a fucking own goal in Philly. I mean, you can’t make this shit up. He’s exhausted my loathing for him (and we’re not even 20 games in!), and now it’s verging on pity.

I’m feeling something close to pity because it’s not like Manning is the one fucking things up defensively and everyone else is just peachy. Duncan Keith has had bad turnovers lately. Erik Gustafsson has joined in on the fun, with some of his own in the Carolina game. Brent Seabrook seems like he’s trying but he’s still slow, even if his nacho belly is a little smaller these days. Brandon Davidson, Jan Rutta…what can you even say?

The Hawks are second-worst in goals against right now (64) and goals against per 60 (3.72), with only Ottawa coming in worse in these stats. And you know it’s not all Crawford’s fault—it’s because they’re giving up an average of 33 shots per game. But here’s the real kick in the ass: they’re averaging that same number of shots per game themselves (33.1), yet they’re giving up more high-danger chances than they’re getting (13.66 HDCA/60 versus 11.56 HDCF/60). So while you’d think that at least based on shots they’d be closer to equal in terms of goals for/goals against, they’re giving up a shitload of the types of chances you can’t allow and hanging Crawford (and Ward, to a lesser extent) out to dry. It’s a mess.

The Creamy Middles

Jeremy Colliton: It’s the smallest of sample sizes, I know. But the pace is accelerating, they’re being more creative (or trying to), the power play is at least seeing some needed personnel changes, and by all accounts he’s trying to address neutral zone issues and many of the myriad problems this team has. The crappy results in these last two games can’t be directly attributed to coaching miscues. Colliton is still trying to figure out what the hell he’s going to do with these guys. He hasn’t been a train wreck and has appeared calm and collected despite the vitriol and dumbshit performances surrounding him this week. And that’s about all we can ask for at this point.

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