Hockey

With the season all but over now, the only point to watching the Hawks going forward should be to see what the younger players have to offer in a couple of actual NHL games. Instead they’re all down in Rockford to help them in their “playoff run” in the AHL. That’s nice and all, but in reality they all need to be up here getting experience against legitimate playoff teams (because the Hawks are going to lose to a few of them in the next week and a half) at the highest level that hockey can offer. Lukas Reichel doesn’t need to be bum slaying down in RockVegas where he potentially could take an elbow to the head by some career minor leaguer. I also don’t need to see the pale, gooberish face of Erik Gustafsson on my TV anymore while Ian Mitchell and Nicholas Beaudin rot in RFD.

Honestly, other than the trade of Brandon Hagel to Tampa Bay (which to be fair was a very good deal), our Shiny New GM has not done much to fill me with confidence in his ability to steer the ship through Rebuild Bay. The rest of the deadline deals were somewhat meh, and his insistence of keeping some of the prospects in Rockford over playing up here is mysterious at best. His real work will begin this summer at the draft in deciding what he wants to do with Kane and Toews moving forward, but the initial returns are not promising.

BUT THAT’S NOT WHY YOU CALLED!

 

 

Wednesday 4/20

Hawks 4 – Coyotes 3 (OT)

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

 

It’s appropriate that this game occurred on 4/20, because being stoned out of your gourd would be the best possible way to watch these two bottom feeder teams slam their heads together like rams on the side of a mountain. It ended up being exactly what you’d expect from the Hawks and Yotes, except for the outcome where Alex DeBrincat potted the game winner in OT when he buried a sick feed from Kaner past something named “Karel Vejmelka” for his 40th of the season. The Hawks (as is their way) coughed up not one but two 2 goal leads before putting the game away in OT. Alex Vlasic also got his first career goal as a Hawk, so that’s something you can tell your children about 30 years from now when they put you in a home.

 

Thursday 4/21

Hawks 1 – Kings 4

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Woof.

The Kings fucking smoked the Hawks right out of the Staples Center on this one (it’s always gonna be the Staples Center, no matter how much CryptoFartWankJob.Com might want it to be otherwise), scoring twice in 15 seconds at one point. On top of that, Phil Danault gave us yet another reminder about how much a fucking moron Stan Bowman is by opening the scoring 9 minutes into the game. The CORSI shows just how much a waxing this was by the Kings, as they averaged just over 70% of the possession time in the game, peaking in the 2nd where they held a 75% share. Unreal. Anyways, Kane scored his 26th of the season, and that’s about the only highlight for the Hawks in this one. Good seats still available!

 

Saturday 4/23

Hawks 1 – Sharks 4

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

 

Looking at that chart and nothing else, one would be lead to assume the Hawks beat the Sharks like a drum up and down the ice. Sadly, sometimes puck luck and a hot goalie can have other ideas, as Kaapo Kahkonen made 27 saves (quite a few of them being of the high danger variety) in his second win since being sent over from the Wild at the deadline. The Hawks also carried a 75% CORSI share in the 1st period, which is EASILY the highest number they’ve had all season, and potentially all decade.  Tyler Johnson potted one for the Hawks here, which is nice to see for his own sake in this injury-ravaged season that he’s having.

One thing that has become abundantly clear is the Hawks goaltending situation may be the single most important issue that Kyle Davidson deals with going forward. While Kevin Lankinen isn’t entirely to blame (the defense being played in front of him is eye-bleedingly bad), I think we’ve seen enough to show that he’s not going to be The Guy going forward. He would be a very capable backup for whoever the Hawks ultimately anoint as the goalie of the future, but his sole purpose going forward is to eat as many minutes as necessary while the next generation learns on the fly.

The march towards the inevitable heat death of the Blackhawks season continues this week with games against Philly, Vegas and Buffalo. Two of those 3 should be winnable games, but the only one that matters is the Vegas one as the Knights attempt to cling onto their playoff hopes as they chase down Nashville. While it probably won’t happen, it would be kinda fun for the Hawks to step on their fingers as they cling to the side of the cliff.

Onward.

Hockey

As we embark on the final month of the Hawks season, there really is no need to do a “how did we get here” post mortem, because we all know exactly how it happened. There’s really nothing to rehash now that the excitement has faded from the trade deadline and the next batch of intrigue not arriving until the NHL draft this summer. All we’re left with are a few games to judge how some of the younger talent (especially Lukas Reichel, who was recalled from RockVegas recently) handles the adversity of the waning weeks of a lost season and the chance to play spoiler to teams who are actually going to be playing some meaningful hockey in May.

At least the MLB is firing back up today. Let’s do that Baseball!

 

4/7 vs. Seattle

 

Game Time: 7:30 PM CST

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720

Krak Squad: Davy Jones Locker Room

 

If you think this game is meaningless just because both of these teams moved significant pieces of their rosters at the trade deadline to plan for the future, then boy howdy let me tell you that you’re absolutely right. While I’m only being slightly facetious here, the fact is that both the Krak and the Hawks will be using these final weeks of the season as an audition for roster spots in the fall. Both teams will be treating the free agent period this summer as a “pump and dump,” looking for aging talent and reclamation projects that can be signed to 1 year deals and then flipped at the trade deadline this time next season.

For their part, the Kraken have at least made their inaugural season entertaining for the Seattle fans, who have been waiting for something other than the Seahawks to root for since the Sonics packed up their shit and headed for one of the worst states in the union. Prior to shipping off Mark Giordano to a 1st round exit in Toronto and Marcus Johannson to the Caps, the Krak’s forward corps was managing to put up just over 3 goals per game, which for an expansion team with no deigns on competing is actually kind of impressive. Their issue is still on the back end and between the pipes, as the team as a whole has been giving up almost 4 goals per game over the last month and a half. Philip Grubauer and his 3.20 GAA with a .880 save percentage haven’t been helping at all, and essentially tanked his value for what was admittedly a very tepid market for goaltenders at the trade deadline.

 

3/10 vs. Dallas

Game Time: 6:00 PM CST

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720

Deep In The Heart of JerryWorld: Defending Big D

The Stars have very quietly been one of the better teams in the Western Conference since the calendar flipped to 2023. They’re a pretty well rounded team, being in the top half of the league (but not TOO much in the top half) in pretty much every available stat category. Stacking all of this up with the very, very good season that Jake “the Otter” Oettinger has put together between the pipes and you get a team that’s not going to make one of the top 3 spots in the conference, but one that should fairly comfortably snag a wild card spot with the games in hand they have over Vegas.

The Stars are also very good at the American Airlines arena down in Dallas, compiling a 22-9-1 mark vs 13-18-5 on the road. That will make their quest to get out of the first round of the playoffs against Calgary or Colorado even more difficult as they’re almost guaranteed to be playing on the road more. What would help their cause would be for Alex Radulov to climb back up the cliff his production flew off of this season. With a mere 17 points in 62 games thus far this year, he hasn’t done much to justify his 6.25 million dollar cap hit, or made much of a case for him to get even the tiniest raise when he hits UFA status in the summer.

 

4/12 vs. Los Angeles

Game Time: 7:30 PM CST

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720

Run Them Jewels Fast: Jewels From The Crown

 

The Hawks have a genuine opportunity to play spoiler in this game, as the Kings are clinging to a mere 4 point lead for the 3rd spot in the Pacific division over the Vegas Golden Knights at press time. The Kings have been treading water somewhat since the end of February, basically going slightly over .500 in the month of March. Not wanting to sell the farm to upgrade their roster at the deadline and hamstring their future (stares at Stan Bowman), the Kings were pretty quiet at the trade deadline. Honestly a pretty smart move, as the Pacific division is clearly the weakest out of any in the NHL so their odds of sneaking in and getting a few games in the playoffs are better than a 50/50 shot.

The Kings are one of the better possession teams in the NHL, and a lot of that credit is due to the system installed by former Sharks head coach Todd McClellan. They have one of the better breakouts in the league from their back end, as their D-men are able to push the play off their own blue line and back into the neutral zone pretty consistently. Alex Edler and professional dirtbag Drew Doughty are big reasons for this, as their passing skills are top notch. Old Friend Phillip Danault is here, very quietly being on pace for a 60 point season (stares at Stan Bowman) and has clearly learned quite a bit from Anze Kopitar in his time here with his +15 rating and consistent 57% CORSI share at even strength. He also gets considerable time on the PK, which makes  me want to saw my wrists with a spork even more. I would expect the Kings to come out flying at the Hawks defenders with a pretty strong forecheck (really, every team should do this as the Hawks breakout is a mess when Seth Jones isn’t on the ice) to try and pin them in their own zone and let their cycle go to work. The Kings forecheck and passing vs. Caleb Jones, Riley Still(here for some reason)man and Jake McCabe. I know who my money’s on.

Let’s Go Sox

 

 

 

Hockey

While most of the luminaries of this site are not fans of the Foo Fighters, I absolutely am. So when the news broke Friday night that drummer Taylor Hawkins had been found dead in his hotel room, my heart dropped down to my knees. I see a LOT of live shows, as concerts are my kryptonite. Most summers I’ll try and attend 10-15 shows at least, from whoever happens to be touring that year. Out of all the bands and shows that I’ve been to, there are few that can match the level of energy or just plain fun that a Foo Fighters show contains. Taylor Hawkins was a huge part of that experience, and his presence behind the kit will be sorely missed if the band decides to continue. Hawkins’ name is added to an impressive list of talent and creativity that has been lost to us over the past 20+ years. While I’ll never have the pleasure of seeing him hammer the drums on the intro to My Hero again, or listen to him cover a Queen tune, I’ll always have the happy memories of all the awesome times I had at his shows. Rest in peace.

 

Also the Hawks played some hockey this week:

 

Wednesday 3/23

Hawks 4 – Ducks 2

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

 

Sometimes there are teams out there that no matter how hard you try, they simply have your number and you can’t beat them. For the Anaheim Ducks, that team is the Hawks. With the win on Wednesday the Hawks have themselves a clean sweep of the series against the Ducks, and the Ducks have themselves an extended off-season to think about how losing 3 games to the Hawks contributed to the eradication of their playoff hopes.

As for the game itself, the Hawks really only controlled the 1st period with a CORSI of 61%, then proceeded to hang on by the skin of their teeth (and some solid goaltending by Kevin Lankinen) in the 2nd and 3rd period with 34% and 40% shares. That’s the kind of domination that usually results in 6-7 goals in a given timeframe (just wait for the Vegas 3rd period recap), but the Hawks managed to somehow keep the Ducks at bay long enough for Dylan Strome to continue his dominant March by pocketing the GWG with 4:00 to go in the 3rd.

The Hawks special teams were helpful here as well, with their first 2 goals coming on the man advantage (Raddysh with a Y…many people are saying it) and the PK blanking the Duck’s power play on their one attempt. This is the kind of win we’re gonna see a lot of going forward, with the Hawks getting owned on the possession side of things but somehow eking out 2 points thanks to decent goaltending and some timely goals by high caliber forwards like Kane and Cat.

 

Thursday 3/24

Hawks 4 – Kings 3 (Hawks Win Goat Rodeo)

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

 

With the mishmash of talent on the back end, the Blackhawks breakout of their own zone is a disaster right now. What that results in is them getting skulled in CORSI night in and night out. What they DO have that most teams don’t is Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat (and also Seth Jones as well), who can singlehandedly ignore whatever forecheck the opposing team is pressing them with and go end to end to put the puck in the net. This is exactly what happened in this game, as the Hawks got fucking smoked in the possession department (31%, 32%, 42% CORSI) and yet managed to score a win in the shootout despite all that. Kane and DeBrincat both tallied (along with Sam Lafferty somehow, who isn’t quite “a thing” but bears watching going forward) to help the Hawks overcome miserable play by the special teams unit. Colin Delia was fine in this one, not looking terrible but also not amazing as he kept the Kings off the board during the juggling competition in OT.

They can’t all be beautiful, and when the West Coast has typically been a house of horrors for your team you take what you can get and move on.

 

Saturday 3/26

Hawks 4 – Knights 5 (OT)

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick 

This one stings.

With Vegas missing both goalies AND about 4 top players on their front and back ends, going up 3-0 after two on this squad with a chance to put a nail in their playoff coffin then coughing it up is a bummer. Kevin Lankinen did himself no favors by allowing a very soft goal to start the shenanigans rolling  less than 60 seconds into the 3rd period. Once that happened, you could feel the air go out of the Hawks tires as the Knights smelled blood in the water. Less than 5 minutes later it was 4-4 as the Hawks were just trying to get into OT and salvage the disaster the game had become.

They had plenty of chances, too. With Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat bearing down on rookie goalie Logan Thompson in OT, only to have the puck skip over Cat’s stick into the boards. Dylan Strome had a chance a few seconds later only to be stoned by Thompson (who, credit where it’s due, did an admirable job stopping some seriously high danger chances from Strome, Kane and The Cat). Ultimately it was the guy Vegas had tried to trade away only days earlier firing the GWG home after Kane, Strome and Jones got stuck out there for an extended period of time and were completely gassed.

 

In the end, taking 5 of a possible 6 points on a West Coast road swing is absolutely considered a success. As the Hawks move into full on rebuild mode, you have to enjoy these games while you can as the next time they show up in Vegas the roster may look considerably different than it does now. Same can be said for the outcome. So much to look forward to!

Hockey

So we have our last full week of Hawks hockey before we see what shiny new GM Kyle Davidson has in store for the roster with the 3/21 NHL trade deadline looming. In between now and then, the Hawks have a much stiffer (heh) challenge with 2 of their next 3 games coming against legitimate playoff teams in the Bruins and Minnesota Wild. It’s also a Stupid Schedule Week™ with the Hawks at home tonight, then nothing until a 1:00 start in Minnehaha on Saturday, then they fly back here to take on the Peg. I get the NHL schedulers have had their work cut out for them with COVID blowing everything up and the players not going to the Olympics, but damn that’s a shitty set of game times.

 

3/15 vs. Boston

Game Time: 7:30 PM CST

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720

Those Apples Fucking Suck: Stanley Cup of Chowder

 

Less than a week after losing a heartbreaker to the Bruins out in Beantown, the Hawks get their chance at revenge tonight at the UC. Not a whole lot has changed since Summer hit up the preview from last week other than the B’s finishing off their homestand with a 3-2 win against the moribund Coyotes of South Glendale over the weekend. The offense continues to run through that Dunkin Donuts guy, as Pastrnak keeps piling up the points (including the game winning dagger against the Hawks last week). Taylor Hall and Patrice Bergeron are also here, along with the diseased penis Brad Marchand, who I’m sure will do something completely infuriating at some point during the game. Odds are Jake Swayman gets the nod again with him taking the bulk of the starts recently with Bruce Cassidy riding the current hot hand.

With our Large Irish Son Connor Murphy likely confined to the dark room for the foreseeable future while in concussion protocol, the Hawks D will be even more hard pressed than usual to keep Boston setting things up behind the net as they are wont to do. Keeping out of the box will be key, as with Murph out there isn’t really anyone on the PK who can clear the crease like he does. Could be ugly.

 

3/19 At Minnesota

Game Time: 1:00 PM CST

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network, WGN-AM 720

First Round Failures: Hockey Wilderness

 

It pains me greatly to concede the fact that the Minnesota Wild are better than the Blackhawks right now, and most likely will continue to be for the next few years at least. They have a very solid mix of interesting veterans and exciting young players. This was made possible after shedding the dead weight that was the contracts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. The biggest name among the exciting young players would be Kirill Kaprisov, who may very well be the heir apparent to Alex Ovechkin (assuming he ever actually, ya know, retires), as one of the best pure scorers to hit the scene in a very long time. The Wild recently signed him to a 5 year, $45 million extension after what seemed like an impasse that could’ve sent him back to Russia. They’ve also added Old Friend Ryan Hartman, who has now harnessed all the potential we saw during his time with the Hawks.

The back end is populated by a lot of familiar names as the Wild attempted to shore up what was a solid group of Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon by adding Alex Goligoski and Dimirti Kulikov. The results have been middling thus far, as the Wild have a tendency (much like Vegas, who they’ve now modeled themselves after) to give up a boatload of shots. With only Cam Talbot behind them to stop the onslaught, the Wild basically need to just play balls to the wall offense to keep opponents out of their zone. That’s not usually a very solid playoff strategy, which is ok because it’s a team from Minnesota, and they never get out of the first round anyways.

 

3/20 vs Winnipeg

Game Time: 7:00 PM CST

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720

Everybody Freeze (Arnold voice): Arctic Ice Hockey

 

Last and most certainly least of these 3 is the Winnipeg Jets. While they’ve been on a mini heater over the last week or so, beating the Blues and Lightning by a decent margin, they’re still just 5-4-2 since they last lost to the Hawks in the middle of February. As we all know, playing .500 hockey down the stretch in Gary Bettman’s NHL does not a playoff team make. They’re only 4 points back of Vegas with a game in hand of the final wild card spot, which might actually be worst case scenario for them. With the team needing quite a bit to take the next step, their best course of action would probably be to sell at the deadline like the Hawks. Being only 4 out might make them hesitate to do that, and even worse for them would be to push their chips in like their GM was Stan Bowman. Even if they DO sneak into the playoffs, they face a total ass-waxing at the hands of Calgary or Colorado, both of whom are light years ahead of the Jets. Personally I hope they DO go all in, which would put them on the same trajectory as the Hawks now sit. Misery loves company.

 

Hockey

In what was a very entertaining 3 games for the Hawks this week, they took 4 of a possible 6 points available to them, and if it weren’t for a very unlucky bounce and some shitty officiating in Boston it very easily could’ve been at least 5. Alas, when you’re at the level the Hawks are it always seems that the puck bounces the other way and it’s in you net. Such is life and hockey.

In other news, thoughts for a speedy recovery for our Large Irish Son after he was boarded by Parker Kelly early in the 1st period on Saturday night. Murph went down in a heap and appeared to be out cold when his face hit the ice. The hit itself, while not great, wasn’t particularly preadatory and appeared to be just bad luck with the way his head contacted the boards. You never wanna see the stretcher come out for anyone, and at this point you just hope Murph is ok. Apparently he traveled back with the team, so that is at least some small measure of good news.

Anyways, here’s the shakedown:

 

Tuesday 3/8

Ducks 3 – Hawks 8

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

 

Poor John Gibson. All he had to do is look at the Hawks giveaway calendar to know he was fucked from the jump, as it was Shitty Green Hat Giveaway Night at the UC, which automatically means a hat trick for at least one Hawk skater. Tonight was no different, as Dylan Strome continued to be scorchingly hot with the puck, netting his 2nd career hat trick while Patrick Kane continued is inevitable rise to the top of the Hawks all-time scoring list with 6 points.

Tuesday night marked the 2nd game in a row where Gibson had given up 5 goals, and has now allowed 20 goals in his last 5 games. He actually seemed like he might survive the night after only Strome scored when the Hawks jumped right into the Ducks shit off the bat. Barely 5 minutes into the period and the Hawks already had 9 shots. The dam eventually broke, and before the period was over it was a 5-0 for the Blackhawks and Gibson’s night was done.

His backup didn’t fare much better, as Brandon Hagel scored on the first shot of the 2nd period 16 seconds in. After that, the Ducks tried climbing back into the game as the Hawks suddenly couldn’t stay out of the penalty box. They cut the lead to 6-3 before Strome fired home his second of the night to put the kibosh on that comeback. He added one more in the trailing minutes of the 3rd to complete the hatty, and down came the Shitty Irish Jig hats. While it’s always cool to see that, it’ll never come close to Hard Hat Giveaway night and the chaos that ensued after Towes’ hat trick.

 

Thursday 3/10

Hawks 3 – Bruins 4

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

 

This one was a bummer, as the Hawks played more than well enough to come away from this game with at least a point. Yet a shitty icing call and terrible bounce in the Hawks zone with :18 left on the clock and they come away with a big ole zip in the points column. Yet that’s what happens when you have two different teams with vastly different skill levels meeting in a mid-march game. The Bruins, comfortably ensconced in the Eastern wild card spot 16 points ahead of the Jackets, seemed to be doing just enough to keep themselves in the game while the Hawks were throwing everything they had at Boston. In a scenario like that all it takes is one bad bounce and it’s all over.

On the plus side, Alex DeBrincat continues to tear holes in space and time all over the ice while Brandon Hagel hit 20 goals for the first time in his career. Hagel appears to be doing everything to make sure that the Hawks ask for the absolute moon for his services at the deadline, and I’m starting to come around to that way of thinking. If Hagel truly is the diamond in the rough some think him to be, then maybe it really isn’t insane to ask for a 1st rounder and a top prospect in return for him. While nobody on the Hawks roster should be considered untouchable (everybody’s got a price!), the ask in return continues to climb with every goal. Good on him.

 

Saturday 3/12

Hawks 6 – Senators 3

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

 

If you take out the terrifying image (which, admittedly is very hard to do) of Connor Murphy being stretchered off the ice, this game was actually pretty entertaining in a way that only a game between two bottom feeding teams can be. Once the Hawks got over the shock of seeing their teammate being wheeled across the ice strapped to a back board, things picked up in a way that gave the Sens defense windburn.

Falling behind 2-0 to this overturned clown car of an NHL franchise seemed to wake something in Jonathan Toews that we haven’t seen since the bubble series against Vegas back in 2020. He was all over the ice, scoring the first two goals for the Hawks, and even launching himself stupidly into a fight with Zach Sanford after a questionable hit on Kirby Dach. While I never want to see a guy with a history of multiple concussions and a laundry list of current medical issues leaping face first into a fight with the dregs of the Eastern Conference, it was nice to see a fire in Toews’ eyes.

Also if I haven’t hammered this point home enough of how bad Ottawa is, if Caleb Jones scores two goals against your team…you fucking suck. More of note is that Jones the Younger now has tied his brother in goals on the season despite playing waaaay less minutes. While quite a bit of Seth’s goal drought can be tied directly to puck luck, you still can’t have your highest paid D-man being outscored by his League Minimum younger brother.

Patrick Kane passed Bobby Hull’s Tony LaRussa-looking ass for 2nd place on the Hawks all time leading scorer list with 3 assists tonight, giving him 10 in his last 3 games. The dude is on a tear right now, which bodes well for the entertainment level for the rest of the games this March.

 

 

Hockey

As the wheels continue to fall off for the Hawks and the trade deadline looms ever closer, we’re left to consider what, exactly, any of us are doing here. It’s been a very long time since I’ve felt this level of hopelessness in conjunction with this team. The front office is a tire fire, and the shine has worn off the Nü Coach with the team struggling to score night in and night out. The deadline deals might bring some of the interest back, until you realize that any pieces that the Hawks get in return are more likely than not going to be years away from being anything.

This is truly the doldrums of Hawks Fandom, and it’s very reminiscent of the period of time after the White Sox had ripped the band aid off and sent Chris Sale and everyone else worth anything (also Adam Eaton) to the East Coast. The initial excitement of all the shiny new prospects wore off and you were left with the realization that the next few years were just gonna suck ass. In this instance, however, the Hawks don’t have a Chris Sale on their team to flip so the excitement level about the return will be tempered considerably.

Anyways, here’s whos on tap for the weekend:

 

2/25 vs. New Jersey

Game Time: 7:30 PM CST

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720

Kevin Smith Says Hi: All About The Jersey 

 

Oh, shit! A team that’s lower on the ladder than the Hawks.

Much like the residents at 1901 West Madison, the New Jersey Devils are looking towards the horizon and the future that it brings. More specifically, what type of return the Devils could conceivably get at the trade deadline for some of their available players. Unlike the Hawks, however, the Devils have a solid young core of players that are a year away (perhaps two) from making some serious noise in the East. Jack Hughes is obviously the prize horse of that group, but the rest aren’t anything to sneeze at either. 2017 #1 overall pick Nico Hischier has made serious strides this season in his game defensively to go along with his offensive talent (on pace to top his previous point total by 20+). The Devils might also have something in Jesper Bratt. The Swede has turned up his offensive game this year, already surpassing his previous career high in points by 11. Some of this is due to his increased presence on the power play, but his even strength game has matched his progress with his average CORSI up to 55% from 42% last season.

On the defensive end, PK Subban and freshly minted #1 d-man Dougie Hamilton hold down the fort. Offensively Subban is having somewhat of a down year (which isn’t helping his trade value), but he’s still able to push the play from his own end. Hamilton has been as advertised, chipping in 20 points on offense and still being able to play strong from the blue line. Behind them things get pretty dicey, as the goaltending for the Devils is some of the worst in the league. Jonathan Bernier signed a 2 year deal to be the bridge goalie for NJ until the netminder of the future arrived, but he went on IR back in December with what can only be termed “Shit Hip.” A month later, his season was over as he went under the knife. His replacements have garnered a sub .900 save percentage and a 3+ GAA in his absence, and there’s not much PK Subban or Dougie Hamilton can do about that. If the Hawks can up their shot total from 7 per period to double digits, they stand a decent chance of potting at least 3 in this one.

 

2/27 vs. Blues (AGAIN)

Gametime: 2:00 PM CST

TV / Radio –  HULU, NBCSN, WGN-AM 720

Wretched Hive Of Scum And VillainySTL Gametime

Look, other than the start time and the fact that the game is in Chicago this time absolutely nothing has changed since the last time these two teams met. Well, I guess the gap inbetween the two teams point totals has expanded, but other than that it’s the same ole shit. Two weeks ago the Blues completely waxed a Hawks team that was right on the precipice of the cliff that they now find themselves at the bottom of. The Blues are still a much better team offensively, defensively and behind the bench. The only wild card is Marc-Andre Fleury, who is still singlehandedly capable of stealing games. Which is essentially what the Hawks need here to escape Sunday with any points, but I’m not gonna hold my breath.

 

Hockey

A successful, if unspectacular stretch of games for the Hawks this Valentines’ week as they were able to bookend two wins in Canada with an absolute turd of an effort down in The Lou for the middle frame. During all of this actual hockey being played (how many people were actually playing attention with the Olympics going on and the Bulls being awesome is anyone’s guess), news leaked out that the Hawks were looking to get an insane return from teams inquiring about the services and availability of one Brandon Hagel. The return in question (according to Frank Seravalli in the Daily Faceoff Rundown podcast) is apparently a first round pick and a top prospect, which to me is absolutely mind boggling.

Look, don’t get me wrong. Brandon Hagel is a very solid young player on a Very Not Good team. Were he to be traded to Colorado or Vegas at the deadline he would be a very solid 3rd or 4th line player. Teams don’t trade first round picks and/or top prospects to fill out their 3rd line, no matter how young and cap friendly he may be. At 23 years old (24 when next season rolls around), is he the kind of player you build around for the future? His 27 points in 46 games is a nice addition, but if the Hawks are turning down 2nd and 3rd round picks for a guy they essentially picked up off waivers when the cupboard is completely bare is asinine to me. Not having a permanent GM at the trade deadline is also extremely asinine, but the Hawks aren’t one to be told what is dumb and what isn’t.

Anyways, TO THE RECAP:

 

2/9

Hawks 4 – Oilers 1

BOX SCORE

Natural Stat Trick

 

Guess signing Evander Kane wasn’t the kick in the pants the Oilers thought it would be, eh?

The Hawks jumped right into the Oil’s shit from the get go, with Patrick Kane firing a nifty cross ice feed to DeBrincat, who ripped it right past Professional Crybaby Mike Smith giving the Hawks their first of two power play goals on the night. It was all set up by the hard work of Sam Lafferty, who drew the tripping penalty after outworking Nugent-Hopkins. A minute later the aforementioned Brandon Hagel doubled up the Hawks lead when DeBrincat saucered a cross ice pass of his own during a 3 on 2 rush.

The 2nd period was all about Marc-Andre Fleury, as the Oil emptied everything in the chamber at him. Edmonton dropped 20 shots on MAF in the 2nd, with only Leon “Why So Pissy” Draisaitl’s power play tally sneaking past him. As expected, the Hawks got absolutely annihilated in CORSI in the second period to the tune of 75% to 25%. They supposedly had 6 shots in the period but I can’t honestly remember any of them. Predictably, Edmonton folded like a cheap tent after Strome put one past Smith in the first minute of the 3rd, with Fleury in no serious danger the rest of the way. Shit, even Kirby Dach scored a goal, which tells you everything you need to know about the state of hockey in Edmonton right now. Good win.

 

2/12

Hawks 1- Blues 5

BOX SCORE

Natural Stat Trick

 

This game fucking sucked. The team clearly didn’t give a shit from word go, and they got smoked in every facet of the game up and down the ice. Even Marc-Andre Fleury had the “Not Interested” sign hanging from his helmet. The Blues exposed the Hawks every weakness as a team, and capitalized on every mistake. When the Hawks needed a push in the 3rd to try and get back in the game, the Blues dominated CORSI 82%-18%. It pains me to say it, but they’re just better than the Hawks at everything, and it’s gonna be that way for a long while.

 

2/14

Hawks 3 – Jets 1

BOX SCORE

Natural Stat Trick

 

They can’t all be edge of your seat thrillers. Sometimes during an 82 game marathon, there are just going to be games that are flat out boring. Through the first half of this one, that’s exactly what happened. Just ask Ben Pope:

Really, nothing of note happened until Patrick Kane used a screen by Kirby Dach to rifle one 5 hole on Connor HellBuick. After that brief moment of excitement, things went quiet again until Mark Scheifele tapped in a puck that hit approximately 32 people on the way to the cage off the stick of Nate Schmidt six minutes into the final period. Then Alex DeBrincat decided he’d had enough of this bullshit and gave the Hawks a lead they wouldn’t give up with this absolutely disgusting snipe:

Stan Bowman did a lot of dumbass shit while he was here, but drafting Top Cat was definitely not one of those things. Anyways, shortly thereafter, Fleury helped himself out by shooting an outlet pass to Kane who tapped it up to Hagel for the ENG, thus bringing the game to a close. You really can’t complain about the win, but this game was exactly what you’d expect with two bottom of the table teams dry humping their way through 60 minutes of hockey. The Jets won the possession battle 54-46%, but they don’t have DeBrincat or Marc-Andre Fleury, so fuck em. Moving on.

Hockey

After Rocky’s pants-shitting at the town hall the other day, my give-a-shit level about this team has reached “Patrick Kane in Late February” territory. Yet still here I am writing about them, so I don’t quite know if that says more about me than Rocky but whatever. Some hockey is better than none I suppose.

These first 3 games out of the gate post-All Star break feature 2 Canadian reschedules bookending a trip to the Purina Factory down in St. Louis. After the aforementioned town hall shenanigans it’s probably best that the team opens up on the road so they can attempt to concentrate on just playing hockey and not dealing with the fallout of their evil Keebler Elf owner’s tirade.

With Alex DeBrincat’s solid showing at the All Star festivities in Vegas, the Hawks look to start the back half of the season out on a high note. Standing in their way are two underperforming Canadian teams and one offensive juggernaut from St. Louis. Here’s hoping the time off did Toews and Kane good, as the Hawks are desperate for scoring from wherever they can get it.

 

2/9 @ Edmonton 

Game Time: 7:00 PM CST

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720

#FreeMcDavid: Copper N Blue

 

Man, shit has been rough in Edmo since Christmas. With a 5-8 record after Boxing Day, the Oilers spent the entire month of January getting their skulls cracked in, culminating in the amazing press conference where Canadian “hockey journalist” Jim Matheson asked Leon Draisatl why he was “being so pissy” after having to sit through his idiotic questions.

Oh, and they signed Evander Kane after the Sharks got rid of him before the Vegas Good Squads came to kneecap him and leave him for dead in the Nevada desert.

So things haven’t been very rosy for the Oil since the calendar flipped to 2022. They managed to string together a few wins before the Knights completely ethered them 4-0 heading into the all star break. What type of team the Hawks will see is anyone’s guess, but with 2 of the best players in the multiverse on their roster (even if McDavid has a wonky knee right now) Marc-Andre Fleury will have to be on his game to keep them off of the scoresheet. Regardless of how the game goes, Edmonton may end up with the last laugh if the Hawks brass continues to shoot themselves in the dick and hire Peter Chiarelli as their new GM.

 

2/12 @ St. Louis

Gametime: 7:00 CST

TV / Radio – NBCSN, WGN-AM 720

Wretched Hive Of Scum And VillainySTL Gametime

 

This game will not be pretty. We’ve reached the point where the Blues are simply a more “put together” team than the Hawks are, and outside of Alex DeBrincat and maybe Patrick Kane (if he gives a shit) the Hawks just don’t have the firepower to keep up with STL. Jordan Kyrou continues to tear a hole in the atmosphere with his play, and fresh off his first All Star appearance I’m sure he’ll be looking to continue that trend.

It’s not just Kyrou the Hawks have to be aware of, however. While the Blues still can’t completely get away from their special brand of Stupid, they’re definitely a more high powered team than we’re used to seeing. They have 7 skaters with double-digit goal totals, and Vlad Tarasenko has regained the form he lost after missing a shitload of time with multiple shoulder surgeries. Between him, Kyrou, Barbashev and Buchnevich there’s just too much to have to pay attention to.

In net, Jordan Binnington hasn’t been setting the world on fire with his .900 save percentage and 3+ GAA, but Ville Husso (yet another Finnish goalie. Suomi!) has more than picked up the slack with his .940 and 1.91 GAA and is pretty close to claiming the top spot in what has suddenly become a tandem effort.

Also Brandon Saad is here, which hurts me to my core.  *sad trombone*

 

2/14 @ Winnipeg (AKA North Grand Forks)

Gametime: 8:00 CST

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720

Middle Of Nowhere: Arctic Ice Hockey

 

I’ll never forget how much my buddy Matt hated people from Winnipeg when I went to college in Grand Forks. He was a bartender, and despised working the one weekend a month when they all piled into their RV and drove south to GFK to shop at Walmart (because the Canadian dollar was more valuable at the time) because they didn’t tip for shit. This preview is for you, Matt Hammond.

Anyways, the Jets suck slightly less than the Hawks do. As of right now they sit 6 points up on them with 3 games in hand but are 7 points out of the last wild card spot. Which in Gary Bettman’s NHL may as well be 40, with Loser Points for everyone. Kyle Connor has officially turned into “a thing” as the 2015 1st round pick of the Jets has done nothing but rake at the NHL level since being drafted and may end up being the Jets best choice of all time.

Unfortunately for The Peg, it’s him and Mark Scheifele and not much else. The Jets are mired in the bottom 3rd of the league with the Hawks for 5 on 5 goal scoring despite being 10th in the league in CORSI for. While some of that may be due for a market correction (the team as a whole is top 10 in most advanced stats, but bottom 3rd in shooting percentage), it may simply just be a bad luck year for the Jets forward corps. With Connor HellBuick having a merely average year, most nights the Jets don’t score enough to run with the higher level teams in the west like the Avs and Knights. What they have will most likely be enough against the Hawks, however. Though that’s not exactly something to brag about these days.

 

Hockey

Sometimes there is victory in defeat. The two games against the Avalanche proved that this week, as the Hawks played them extremely well and yet ended up on the short end of the stick both times. On the other end of that spectrum was the flaming clown car that was Wednesday night’s game against the Scum, where defense was treated completely optional in favor of a track meet up and down the ice. Ultimately the Hawks only took 2 of a possible 6 points in this stretch, which dumps them even further down the cliff that is the Western Conference Playoff Picture.  Time has almost run out for the Hawks playoff hopes, and it’s time for the team to cement their direction for the future of the franchise by installing whoever they decide to be the new GM because there are decisions that need to be made. This is the way.

 

1/24

Hawks 0 – Avalanche 2

BOX SCORE

Natural Stat Trick

 

This was actually one of the better road games the Hawks had played in quite awhile, and yet when you’re outgunned like they were you can’t afford to make any mistakes. The Hawks made 2, and they both ended up in the back of the net. Not much else you can say about these two teams, other than the Avs are considerably more talented on both sides of the ice. They were able to keep possession of the puck for lengths at a time (53% and 55% CORSI in the first 2 periods), while limiting the Hawks to a one and done anytime they were able to get in the Colorado zone. Pavel Francouz (real name) didn’t have much to do to secure his 3rd career shutout as the Hawks were only able to get 24 shots on net, and only 10 of them were of the high danger variety.

The Avs are on a heater right now, as they’re 18-1-2 in their past 21 games, and unbeaten at home since Thanksgiving. The Hawks skated right into the buzzsaw, and I have to give them credit for the effort they put forth. They could’ve packed it in after Rantanen’s goal in the 3rd, but they poured it on and actually owned the possession battle 53-47%. DeBrincat was his usual amazing self, with 3 shots on goal and a tasty 57% CORSI rating. Connor Murphy also deserves some credit, with 3 shots of his own and a stunning 74% rating. The Hawks took 12 shots to the Avs 4 when he was on the ice, and it’s nights like tonight where his trade value will never be higher. That being said, we have no idea who will be behind the wheel when it actually comes time to make those trades, so it may be a moot point.

 

1/26

Hawks 8 (LOL) – Scum 5

BOX SCORE

Natural Stat Trick

 

I have no idea what the fuck this game was supposed to be, but it ended up being the hockey equivalent of snorting a mound of cocaine and riding a roller coaster for 60 minutes. You really can’t bother looking at the advanced stats for this one, as both teams just said “fuck it” and decided they were gonna treat team defense like Qaron Rodgers and Tyler Bertuzzi treat scientific information. The Hawks jumped out to a 4-0 lead on the back of some quality offensive play by Dylan Strome, who had 2 goals and 1 assist in that span. Adding on a tally from Kubalik and Sam Lafferty’s first goal as a Hawk, heading into the dressing room up 4-0 after 1 you’d figure that would pretty much be it for the night, right?

RIGHT?

Nope. The Wings came out flying in the 2nd after pulling Alex Nedeljkovic for Calvin Pickard, scoring 2 less than a minute apart and then potting one with 13 seconds left in the period. The Hawks couldn’t get out of their own end, and were turning the puck over in the neutral zone like it was going out of style. The Wings dropped 13 shots on the Hawks after only mustering 7 in the 1st, and Marc-Andre Fleury looked all kinds of tired.

The 3rd started out just like the 2nd with the Wings pressing hard, but Fleury was up to the task. Finally the Hawks took the momentum back with a PPG from Strome (giving him his first hat trick since juniors) and one from Top Cat on a nice 2 on 1 with Toews. The Hawks were struck with stupid again after that, letting the Wings back within one after a PPG from Moritz Seider and a tally from Dylan Larkin. That was as close as the Wings would get, however, as Hagel stripped Old Friend Nick Leddy and sealed the deal with a breakaway goal. Tack on an ENG from Top Cat, and you end up with the 8-5 final in a game that was sloppy as fuck, but stupid fun to watch.

 

1/28

Avalanche 6 – Hawks 4

BOX SCORE

Natural Stat Trick

 

This game started out a mirror image of the one from Monday night, with the exception that it was the Avalanche that played the perfect road period in the 1st (something that gave the feeling of a cat playing with it’s food), ending it with the score tied at zeros. Once again like the first game against the Avs, it was a dumb penalty that allowed Colorado to take the lead with a PPG from Landeskog barely a minute into the second period. JT Compher tacked on another about 15 minutes later when Caleb Jones lost a puck battle in the corner and Connor Murphy lost his stick into the side of the net, allowing Tyson Jost to flip the puck into the slot to an all alone Compher as Dylan Strome and Brandon Hagel stood there dumbfounded. Shortly thereafter the Avs pinned the Hawks in their own zone for the remainder of the period, resulting in Patrick Kane taking a hooking penalty just before the period expired.

Predictably, Landeskog started out the 3rd the same way he did the 2nd, burying his second power play goal of the night, and seemingly putting the final nail in the Hawks coffin. Unpredictably, the Hawks fired themselves up like Hulk Hogan making a comeback at Wrestlemania and threw everything they had at the Avs in the 3rd. Less than 20 seconds after Landeskog’s goal, Brandon Hagel atoned for his defensive miscue by tipping in a shot from Connor Murphy at the point. Then came Kaner’s goal a minute later off a slick give and go between him and Gustafsson cutting the Avs lead to one. Alas the fairy tale ended there, as Alex Newhook buried a weird one timer past Fleury when Brett Connoly half-assed his way back to the net. The Hawks would score one more from Gufstasson, but it was too little too late.

Overall, it was a very entertaining week of hockey from the Hawks, but they only get two points to show for it. Had this level of compete occurred against almost any other team in the West, the Hawks would’ve most certainly taken at least two of the 3 games. The Avs are not just any team in the West, however, and their talent level far exceeds the Hawks right now. I’m sure this is how most other teams felt playing the Hawks in 2010 and 2013, and I guess it’s only fair it’s being done to them this time around. The Avs are on an absolute tear right now, and their Star Destroyer of a team was more than enough for the Corellian Cruiser the Hawks were puttering around in. It was always going to end this way against them, but at least it was an entertaining watch.

Hockey

Well that sucked.

With some in the Hawks front office apparently deluded enough to think that they had some type of outside chance for the team to sneak into the playoffs, this series against the Wild loomed large in the schedule. After getting broomed in both games, hopefully this will put to bed any thought of the team sneaking into the postseason and set everyone’s focus where it needs to be: using whatever Jaws of Life apparatus Kyle Davidson can come up with to extricate this franchise from the flaming clown car pileup left behind by Stan Bowman and John McDodough.

 

1/21

Hawks 1 – Wild 5

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

 

This was quite the ass kicking. The Hawks special talent of showing up out of sorts and giving up goals in the first 5 minutes of a game reared its ugly head here, as most people at the UC hadn’t even found their seats yet before MAF had already let in two goals behind him. It didn’t get any better from there on out.

After the dust had settled, Old Friend Ryan Hartman had potted two goals (increasing his already career best to 18) and Fleury had been chased from net halfway through the 2nd period. The defensive structure in this one was nonexistent, and the Hawks hung the “not interested” sign above the bench before the halfway mark of the first period. It was a stinker, and the type of game you see quite a bit towards the end of January during the Bataan Death March towards April.

1/22

Wild 4 – Hawks 3 (OT)

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

While the effort in this one was much, much better, the end result was still the same. With Coach King surprisingly opting to go back to Kevin Lankinen after he came in relief of MAF after he got yanked the night before, the Hawks played much better in front of him, jumping out to a 2-0 lead before Erik Gufstasson took a dumbass penalty with less than 2:00 to go in the 1st period where the Wild inevitably scored on the ensuing power play.

In reality, it could’ve been much more than 2 goals from the Hawks in the 1st were it not for the efforts of  Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen. He absolutely stole a goal from Jonathan Toews in the waning minutes of the first period, throwing his left skate in the air from prone on his belly to kick away Toews’ wrister. Kahkonen was in position all night long, and made some excellent saves on DeBrincat in OT to keep the Hawks out of the win column.

Henrik Borgstrom (who has looked slightly better of late, hopefully increasing his trade value) potted two, along with a sick PPG from DeBrincat. Kane continues to be snakebitten, and is clearly frustrated by his lack of production. Kevin Lankinen looked much better, but still is not the answer to the Hawks goaltending question of the future. At this point, there’s zero reason for Lukas Reichel to be wasting his time in Rockford. Bring him up and give us something to watch going forward, because it’s all we’re really gonna have.