Everything Else

Let’s be honestit feels a little ridiculous to be writing about sports right now. We’re in the midst of a long-overdue reckoning with this country’s toxic legacy of racism and police brutality; the economy is a mess and we all know someone, maybe ourselves, affected by un- or under-employment; and oh yeah, a poorly understood and frequently deadly disease is still ravaging the planet. So yes, sports as a diversion or as something to expend energy on seems downright frivolous. To tell you the truth, I haven’t found myself ready or able to write much about them, even though there have still been plenty of things to say even with leagues closed down. I’ve not seen much reason to put my voice out there when there are so many more that deserve to be heard.

And yet here I am writing about soccer. I guess I’m grasping at some sense of normalcy, and while Serie A’s return can’t really be described as “normal” for a soccer season, I’m unabashedly excited to have this little piece of my life back. So I’m going to share it with you, whether you’re interested or not (and Sam’s not here to shut down my Serie A content so BUCKLE UP).

The German Bundesliga has been back for a few weeks now, and La Liga from Spain and England’s Premier League will all be back in action soon too. But, lots of Serie A games will be on the various ESPN channels because, well, they got a lot of time to fill. So what the hell is going on when this league re-starts? The title race is actually interesting for one thing, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Beginning with the End

They’re starting with the semi-finals and final of the Coppa Italia (which I’m sure is clear that it’s an Italian national tournament). It may seem odd to start with the end of a competition when everyone is rusty, but I think it’s actually a good thinglet the few teams still in it get this out of the way and then everyone can focus on the scudetto (league title) and whatever the hell the rest of Champion’s League and Europa League end up being. So this Friday, Serie A’s version of the Patriots, Juventus, plays AC Milan, who have been terrible. To be honest though, Juve wasn’t playing all that well before the world fell apart, and given that everyone is starting from such a weird place, I guess it’s possible Milan pulls off the upset. But it sure isn’t likely. Juve has too much depth and Milan is woefully short on that. Although, running into the suspension of the season, Maurizio Sarri was using Paolo Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain as the attacking trio, and since that time Dybala got sick with COVID-19 for months on end, and Higuain showed up to training overweight and out of shape, so that front three that had been working so well may not be anymore. Still, I think they have enough talent to turn it on well enough to get past hapless Milan, but it will be interesting to see how their increasing age and slowness plays out now.

Saturday is Napoli-Inter, and as a Napoli fan I’m a bit terrified but also trying to be positive (and I’m just happy to see my fucking team again). Inter had been playing like shit right before the pandemic hit, losing to both Juve and Lazio in league play which basically ended their realistic chances at the scudetto. Napoli, on the other hand, after miserably underperforming for the first two-thirds of the season, were finally pulling their heads out of their collective asses. Our best center back, Kalidou Koulibaly, was hurt but should be back now, which would be a huge boost to our suspect (at best) defense. Thing is, Inter’s coach Antonio Conte loves to play the soccer version of the prevent defense. If Inter scores once (and they need two because Napoli is already leading in aggregate), they’re going to drop back and let Napoli dominate in possession. And Napoli excels at dominating possession but not finishing. They make one dumb mistake that leads to a goal when they’ve had 70% possessionit’s their specialty. So if Inter plays to their strengths they can probably take this, but it’s equally possible that the prevent defense blows up in their face if anyone on Napoli can finish.

Regardless of what happens, these are four powerhouses of the league all in various stages of growth, decline, and rebuilding-on-the-fly, so it’ll make for interesting viewing. And Juventus just might lose, so there’s that.


Now, what of the actual league play that kicks off (HAHA GET IT) on June 20th? The title race is the most interesting it’s been in a few years, and the current wackiness is just another element to that. Juve has won the last eight years and currently is top of the table with 63 points, but Lazio is right there with them with 62. It’s unfortunate because Lazio is the team of, by and for fascists, so you can’t actually root for these fuckers, even though they have the league’s top scorer in Ciro Immobile, who is entertaining as hell to watch. Anyway, it’s at least competitive and Inter is still making some noise in third. Atalanta, hands down the most fun team to watch and the league’s best Cinderella story, is fourth and it would be fantastic to see them pass Inter and make the latter sweat for the last Champion’s League spot next year (year? Season? Whatever length of time…what is time anyway?).

From there it’s a multi-car pileup in the middle of the table, but it means on paper the last Champion’s League spot is in play, plus the Europa League spots are up for grabs. Roma and Napoli are both in the running, as long as there’s no dramatic collapse on either side. Roma had also lost one of their best players to injury, Niccolo Zaniolo, who should be back before this whatever-end-of-a-season is over. In short, this season was already exciting and more unpredictable than usual, so seeing how it all sorts itself out should be a fun time in an already sports-starved summer.

Italy took a serious curb-stomping from the coronavirus, and their hardest-hit areas were the northern regions where most of these Serie A teams hail from. Atalanta in particular is the home team of Bergamo, the northern city that was the epicenter of the pandemic for a long time, as if we needed another element added to their story (and it’s another reason why you absolutely have to root for them in Champion’s League, outside of them playing against your team of course). No matter what happens, it’s a huge emotional lift for the country to have its calcio back. Remember, when Hank Scorpio asked Homer his least-favorite country, France or Italy, he followed up Homer’s answer with an astute observationnobody ever says Italy.


Well, it was game #69 so insert NICE joke here…hahaha, I said insert. OK, enough Beavis and Butthead, we just had to sit through an awful game that was by turns boring and frustrating. The Hawks had opportunities and squandered them, the Blues were oafs and went after noted tough guys Adam Boqvist and Alex DeBrincat, which just shows you what bullies really are and why they’re such assholes. It wasn’t an embarrassing loss like the other night against Detroit, simply by virtue of the fact the Blues are contenders, but it doesn’t really feel any better. Let’s get through this together and break down this terrible game.

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–So the first period was truly one of the most boring displays I’ve seen in weeks. There was a total of 14 shots combined (7 for each team) and it definitely did not feel like there were that many. I don’t have much else to tell you. Caggiula hit the post and Corey Crawford did his best Robin Lehner impersonation at one point–that was about it.

–Then the second period turned into an idiot-fest, with the Blues going full-on Blues, as Oskar Sundqvist basically pirouetted to make sure he jabbed Adam Boqvist’s face with his forearm and the butt of his stick, which resulted in a brawl between both lines. Duncan Keith managed to get taken down immediately and Drake Caggiula jumped in to take the heat off Top Cat. Now, I think at this point you know I can’t stand the fighting in hockey, and this maelstrom basically explains why. First, the fucking Blues went after Alex DeBrincat, who happened to be out there along with linemates Kirby Dach and Caggiula. So number one, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me, going after two children (Boqvist and DeBrincat). Literally you should fight me instead, you fucking pussies. Second, Drake Caggiula REALLY needs to stop fighting because of his concussion history. Third, the refs DOWNGRADED Sundqvist’s penalty to a minor! How is this even a thing?

It was a ridiculous example of everything that is lame with this neanderthal mindset in hockey, and even worse, Boqvist was knocked out of the game and this guy has finally had some strong games AND came back from whatever wrist issue he was having. If he’s got a concussion the Hawks need to shut him down for the rest of the season which is a fucking shame beyond words. Also, Caggiula didn’t return and while I’m not as concerned about the effect on the team if he doesn’t play again this season, I am concerned about his health as human fucking being. A ridiculous situation in every way possible, and the NHL should be fucking embarrassed that their reigning Stanley Cup champions and supposed big-market powerhouse from the Original Six had an important game (for one side) devolve into this bullshit that knocked out two Hawks players. Well done, dumbshits.

Connor Murphy didn’t have a great game, let’s be honest. He lost Bortuzzo in front of the net which led directly to the first goal. And while we’re at it, Alex Nylander didn’t have a great game either, and his turnover at the defensive blue line led directly to the second goal. Murphy I can forgive because he’s usually handling such shit work that you can’t be too mad about a fuck up here and there. Nylander gets no such credit.

–Corey Crawford was outstanding again. I’ve got to be honest, I really want Malcolm Subban to get some time both to see what he can do, and also to give Crow a bit of a rest here. It really no longer matters for the Hawks’ season–those playoff pipe dreams are just that. But regardless of any of that, Crawford was solid as usual, and it was downright refreshing to hear the broadcast give him the credit he deserves, including going so far as to say the only reason they’re even in the playoff discussion is because of him.

–Oh, and then the Hawks went like 12 minutes into the third before they even got a shot off. It seemed like they knew the jig was up and just stopped trying. Are they wrong? No. Will it be tough to watch this for the next month? Yes.

–So it’s International Women’s Day and the NHL attempted to do something sorta decent by having an all-female broadcast crew, and honestly I’m here for it. For a couple reasons: obviously I think it’s pretty clear at this point that I care deeply about representation and addressing historical disparities with opportunities. Second, because I enjoy listening to anyone who isn’t Pierre fucking McGuire. And while I’m uneasy about the token-ness of this night–i.e., hey we have women on a special broadcast, see we’re doing things!!!!–the fact remains that female broadcasters need opportunities to hone their craft. Kate Scott was outstanding as the play-by-play call, and I would prefer her 10 out of 10 times to Foley or any other dope. AJ Mleczko was excellent on the color call, but I have to say Kendall Coyne Schofield still sounds uncomfortable on camera. Again, this can be addressed with more opportunities and experience, as it should be. Remember how cringy Patrick Sharp‘s first few broadcasts were? If he can get better at it, so can Kendall and so can other women broadcasters. Hopefully this is can be more than a token.

Well friends, this weekend kinda felt like the nail in the coffin. Maybe it is, and maybe they can manage a decent draft pick; I’m too tired to decode this into some great revelation other than it seems like they’re screwed. But, they’ve got another string of rather weak opponents coming up so perhaps a fool’s errand? Onward and…upward?


The Ducks aren’t a good team, the Hawks aren’t a good team, and there was plenty of dumb bullshit to go around. But, if the Hawks want to at least have a semblance of dignity (and are willing to not worry about the draft pick ramifications), they need to beat these teams that are even worse than they are. And that’s what happened so we’ll go with it:

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–In the spirit of not burying the lede, Adam Boqvist and Dylan Strome both had a very good night. Let’s start with Boqvist: his pass to set up Caligula’s goal in the first was spot on and was an identical repeat of a play he had against the Panthers. So yes, let’s have this pass for a tap-in become a habit of his. He also had the secondary assist on Strome’s first goal, and at the other side of the ice, it was his defensive play that set up Nylander’s goal in the second. That may sound like yeah, a good defensive play, that’s your job description, but that goal was the point where the game broke open, so that particular stop carries some weight. As for Dylan Strome, he’s been in a weird limbo since coming back from his ankle injury, and being marooned as a winger wasn’t really working. Tonight he was back at center and having Patrick Kane on the wing will always make you look good. But Strome took full advantage of the situation and had a three-point period in the second (2 goals, 1 assist).

Corey Crawford was outstanding again and then fucking Ryan Getzlaf had to go jumping up to knee him in the head in the third. This shouldn’t surprise anyone at this point, but Crow finished the night with a .949 SV%, and at key moments before the Hawks piled up a bunch of goals, he was keeping them in the game. To wit, the first period was mostly a dull back-and-forth until Crawford had to make a flurry of saves in the last 5 minutes, and he withstood a 5-on-3 in the second. Danton Heinen‘s goal in the second was your typical defensive breakdown and can’t be chalked up to a mistake on Crawford’s part. Carter Rowney‘s was a bit soft but also seemed to be a redirect. Getzlaf’s stupid ass could have avoided leaping into him, but he clearly couldn’t be bothered to avoid kneeing the opposing goalie in the head. What a piece of shit. But, the other part of this is whether Coach Pete should have just kept Crow out the rest of the game. The Hawks were up 5-1 with almost half the third period over…was it really necessary to send him back out there? I’m not saying, I’m just saying. Either way, let it be known that Corey Crawford is the hero we need but don’t deserve.

–Also, for the record, I’d like to see what Malcolm Subban can really do and if he can be a decent/reliable backup or 1B. I just don’t want to see it because Crawford took a head injury from a stupid asshole play, obviously. But this may have been the moment to just leave Subban out there to close out a game that was damn close to blow-out status

–Oh Alex Nylander…don’t for a minute think he’s anything other than a bust. He had a couple good plays (I for one was surprised he scored on his goal and wanted him to pass instead, so that shows what I know). So we’ll have to keep watching them try to make Fetch happen.

–In general though, I didn’t hate the lines tonight. The Nylander-Strome-Kane line obviously was a scoring juggernaut, but overall I was glad to see Toews, Strome and Dach as the first three centers. Kubalik-Toews-Saad is also just a sensible top line (finally). They didn’t score but still managed six shots and had a 66 CF% at evens.

–If you need more evidence that Ryan Getzlaf sucks, he let Matthew Highmore steal the puck and get past him for a short-handed opportunity in the third. Luckily for him Highmore sucks too and didn’t convert, but he would later have a nice pass to David Kampf for the sixth goal, thanks to Getzlaf’s lazy-ass effort. Ya hate to see it.

Tonight was a win they had to have, and historically they’ve blown those opportunities. So we’ll take what we can get and just be glad they didn’t cough up a hairball against this half-assed excuse for a team on their home ice. Onward and upward…




For a minute it seemed like they may have had something going, but then the third period happened. We have to file this one under “going off the rails,” and it may have just taken the last shreds of the Hawks’ playoff hopes with it. It’s been a long night so let’s just get through it:

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–The first period was downright dull, with Hawks coming out of it down a goal, slightly up in possession (56 CF%) and even in shots with the Rangers (12-12). Filip Chytil‘s goal was a softie, which in retrospect was a harbinger of what was to come from Robin Lehner. But it wasn’t a disaster, by any means, just some mid-February boredom.

–Then, the Hawks did the opposite of what they usually do, which is suck donkey balls in the second period, and instead they were, shall we say, dominant in the second. Well, maybe not dominant per se, but at least in control. Jonathan Toews made a goal-line save early in the period and they promptly flipped the ice and Dominik Kubalik scored his 24th off a great pass from Duncan Keith, who got his 500th assist on the play. They led in shots (16-10) and again in possession (57 CF%), and they continued their actually functional penalty killing after Lehner punched Brendan Lemieux in the back of the head (which was kinda funny but not really necessary). Things were looking up–despite the fact that demand was so low that Sam had to sell his tickets for a measly $28, it was seeming like maybe the fire sale, in terms of tickets and personnel at the trade deadline, was a little premature.

–And then…it all fell apart. The Rangers scored five goals in the third period on 19 shots. Even just writing that out is insane. Suffice it to say, Lehner did not look good at all in that period. And no, I don’t mean that snarkily–he really didn’t. He hasn’t looked very lights-out since the All-Star break but this was something else. I won’t subject you to a breakdown of each goal he gave up (I’m nicer than that), but at least three of those should never have gotten through. And what’s worse, with the impending trade deadline his value just plummeted. Now it wasn’t totally his fault, as it never is with this team. Adam Boqvist had another rough night, but at this point I’m so infuriated with Coach Pete that I don’t even care if he did play badly. For example, he and Keith both got completely burned by Kreider on his goal, but Lehner definitely should have stopped it and I’m convinced that Boqvist’s mind is twisted with shitty coaching and an ass-backwards system that he’s trying to follow for the sake of not getting benched, but it goes against everything he knows and instinctually understands about the game, and the result is this general crappiness on top of being, ya know, a fucking teenager.

–One thing that did make this more entertaining than usual was the guys being on Hot Mic for the…well not calling the game, but narrating the game I guess. In addition to Sam’s bargain-basement tickets ordeal, they covered the inevitable video tribute to the sellout streak once they can no longer keep up the charade, along with deep thoughts from Matt and Fifth Feather, and the comments from you dear readers were priceless as always. We appreciate everyone who came along on this first simulcasting adventure and hope to bring you more soon.

OK, so there’s no denying the Hawks are really in some shit now, but maybe this and/or Friday will be enough to convince the front office to be selling everything that isn’t bolted down. Yes that’s a huge step that I don’t think they’re ready to admit, but it’s getting awfully hard to deny what we’re seeing. Onward and upward?



You may have been surprised when you woke up and saw the Hawks score from last night (because I’m fairly confident you weren’t staying up late to see it–only losers like myself, Sam, Matt, and about four other cretins would actually spend a Saturday night that way). And you probably thought, wow, maybe some shaky defense but that’s a dominant offensive performance. The thing is, though, it wasn’t. The score doesn’t really reflect the game itself, but please understand I’m not complaining. I’m just scratching my head, and have been for over 12 hours now. I suppose that after getting shut out on a bazillion shots by Vancouver, a correction was due and boy did it happen. But it didn’t inspire the confidence that you would think an 8-goal performance would. Let’s break it down:

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–The first period was all Jonathan Toews, and honestly I’m here for it. He scored 30 seconds into the game, on the first shot on goal, which should tell you how the night went for David Rittich. Not long after that, Toews made smart plays behind the net to hold onto the puck on the power play, and fired a perfect pass to Dominik Kubalik for the second goal. The captain was even busting out the Patrick Kane spin-o-rama move. And that was all fine and good. The bizarro nature of the game was already happening early on, though, with the Hawks ending the period up in shots (12-8) and possession (52 CF% at evens), and yet tied in goals and it felt downright shaky at times. Also strange (well, it’s kind of normal now but it SHOULD be strange) is their special teams–in the first period they were dominant on the penalty kill, and thank christ for that. However just moments later when the Flames pulled a Hawks and took a too many men penalty, the Hawks couldn’t even get out of their own zone, much less get INTO the offensive zone to do anything. It was, as I kept calling it on Twitter, confounding.

–And then the second period happened and I’m still confused. The Hawks were not good, not by any stretch. Calgary lapped them in shots (14-7 in favor of the Flames), and the Hawks managed just a 38 CF%, but they scored 4 goals in the period. Two of those were from Alex Nylander so what the fuck is that about? The first one from Brandon Saad was off a gorgeous no-look pass from Patrick Kane, so it was lucky in that the Hawks finally got control of the puck for a few seconds, and since Kane and Saad are both good, they took advantage. That’s sort of how the rest could be explained too, I guess. The few moments when the Hawks could hang onto the puck, they scored. There ya go, people, there’s some quality analysis for you. But in all seriousness, Nylander’s first goal was off a steal, perfectly executed in the middle of the ice, Alex DeBrincat‘s (yay for this guy finally!) was thanks to Dach’s work behind the net and a quick passing sequence from Dach to Strome to DeBrincat, and Nylander’s other one…whatever. They just exploded with a handful of really good plays, while otherwise they were chasing and running around like rabid raccoons and getting skulled in possession.

–So all that offensive production is great, but they also conceded a few, right? Unfortunately 50% of the goals given up can be laid squarely on Adam Boqvist, who did not have a good night at all. On both Sam Bennett s and Elias Lindholm‘s first goals, Boqvist just didn’t pick up his man and left Lehner totally exposed. The offense made up for the shitty defense so it was fine, and as we’ve said, Boqvist is going to have mistakes, but it still wasn’t a confidence builder.

–And then, to top it all off, the Hawks still sucked in the third and yet piled on more goals. The weirdness just didn’t stop. In fact, when Lindholm scored his second goal, on the power play about five minutes into the third, everyone was palpably nervous that the Hawks were going to blow it. I think the team themselves expected to blow it, given the fact they got outplayed in every way except the one that counts. The Flames outshot the Hawks 20-9 in the third. Please think about that–it’s more than double the amount of shots the Hawks had, and mind you, that’s following the second where they were equally terrible. The difference of course was Robin Lehner, who, up until the third didn’t actually look that great but he turned it on when he had to. As mentioned, his defense wasn’t doing him a lot of favors, but he was giving up a lot of rebounds and his positioning wasn’t too solid through two. He figured it out for the third, though, and definitely bailed the Hawks, until Kane’s empty netter put the game away.

–The Flames really should be kicking themselves in the ass for this one, because not only did they totally outshoot the Hawks on a night when our goalie wasn’t actually lights-out the whole time, the Flames also had three power plays in the third period and still managed to lose. Also Matthew Tkachuk is awful and made about 50 bad turnovers, so that was entertaining. Rittich got pulled in the second and rightfully so, but Cam Talbot wasn’t any good either (a .692 SV%, lmao).

So it was all very strange, but it wasn’t boring. And if the Air Raid Offense is the best we can muster because our defense sucks, so be it. (Let it also be known that Erik Gustafsson still sucks and Boqvist is not the only defenseman who wasn’t at the top of his game.) Onto Winnipeg tonight, where it’s once again a “must-win” if you’re still deluding yourself that this team has a chance at the playoffs. Onward and upward!


As the Hawks venture into the western reaches of Canada, let’s look at who’s hot and who’s not:

The Dizzying Highs

Brandon Saad. Playing on a line with Patrick Kane will always help your scoring no matter who you are, but there’s no reason to nitpick. Saad has been putting the puck in the net lately—three goals in his last four games to be exact. We need Saad to score and that’s happening, he’s currently sporting a 51.6 CF% at evens, and his shooting percentage is sitting at a career-high 15.2. Sure, it could level off a little but he’s been hitting his stride this season and quietly being just solid.

The goaltending. Since 2/1 and going into Winnipeg: Corey Crawford, .932 SV%, 2.36 GAA, 76 shots faced in 2 games; Robin Lehner, .950 SV%, 1.96 GAA, 40 shots faced in 1 game. Now I know, Crow gave up a couple late goals against the Jets, but when you’re on the PK for like 12 minutes a period, that can happen. Besides, he was the only reason that game didn’t turn into a curb stomping in the second period. The Hawks’ playoff hopes may be hanging by a thread, but imagine if we didn’t have this tandem and or if they weren’t playing this well. Actually, don’t imagine it. I just did and it was even more frightening than our current reality.

The Terrifying Lows

Nick Seeler. Just a big, dumb oaf. He had an assist in his first game against Winnipeg, but also a stupid penalty and useless fight. Please get better soon, Adam Boqvist.

Alex DeBrincat. Can somebody just give Top Cat a big hug and tell him everything is gonna be alright? Granted, he got a goal against the Bruins on the power play a few days ago, but aside from that he’s like the episode “Homer Defined” except the dictionary entry would say “snake-bitten” \adj.\: 1. Having been bitten by a snake; 2. Cursed, or generally unlucky without reason; 3. Alex DeBrincat.

Meanwhile, his xGF over the last 10 days is 54.4%, and he’s generating a lot of shots (hell, he had eight against Arizona). But the finish is non-existent, and against Winnipeg on Sunday night he was awful, finishing with a miserable 25 CF% and -36.1 CF Rel. Hopefully this is rock bottom and he can at least sort of contribute as this ship slowly sinks.

The Creamy Middles

Connor Murphy. Did you know this poor bastard has had 66% of his starts in the defensive zone since the break ended? Even with that shitty workload he was nearly equal in possession prior to Sunday (49.5 CF% at 5v5). He’s just doing what he does and not getting enough credit for it, so we’ll be the ones to say something nice about our Large Irish Son.

Kirby Dach. OK, this may be a little harsh and I honestly considered putting Dach in the Highs, but he wasn’t great against Winnipeg, so here we are. However, there’s no denying a point streak, and while Dach hasn’t been potting a bunch of goals lately he’s still managed to rack up six points in his last six games, with the streak ending against the Jets. Five of those points were assists and hey, we’ll take it. Beyond just that, his skating, puck handling, and general demeanor are surpassing his tender years, and he seems to be turning into a genuine top-line center. No, he’s not there yet, but it may not be that far off.


In a way, the Hawks should be glad they managed to get even one point tonight, after being dominated by the Bruins for much of the game. But it feels wrong because it’s a waste of yet another stellar goaltending performance, and they were so close to winning and yet had a goal called back for a spurious hand pass. I’m not going to sit here and blame the refs—the blame falls squarely on the Hawks for not being better than their opponent—but this ones leaves a bitter taste. Let’s get through it:

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–The Hawks got totally outplayed, but the very least we can say is that they were genuinely trying—they’re just not as good as Boston. This game was not like last night’s against the Wild where they just couldn’t be bothered to give a shit for the first two-thirds of the game. They definitely gave a shit, but the best they could do was just hold the Bruins off. In the first two periods, the Hawks managed just a 31 and 38 CF%, respectively. They were outshot 16-5 in the first and ended the night outshot 40 to 22 (they’ve got to stop with these 40-shot games). Coach Gemstone did them no favors early on by having the galaxy brain idea of starting our fourth line, including the illustrious talents of Alex Nylander, against what is basically the best line in hockey, in Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak. That went exactly how you think it would, and Robin Lehner was racking up saves basically from the opening whistle. This dumb mismatch led to the logical fallacy of tripping-diving on Nylander and Pastrnak late in the third, but the NHL have never been ones for consistent or sane thinking (how can it be a penalty if it’s also a dive?! THIS CAN’T BE). Neither is Colliton when it comes to matchups, apparently. Nylander-Carpenter-Smith barfed up a 20 CF% at evens, and he kept throwing them out there despite their blatant inability to keep up with the Bruins’ top line.

–Relatedly, Lehner was outstanding and showed no rust coming off a long break. Granted, he let in a softie to Kuraly, but you can’t even be mad about that when it’s compared with the 1,827 highlight reel saves he made throughout the rest of the game. A penalty kill in the first period was a particularly indigestion-inducing sequence when he made what seemed like impossible leaps across the crease. Krejci had a flurry of chances and was visibly frustrated by Lehner stopping them repeatedly. His east-west movement all night was outstanding, and it had to be for the Hawks to even have a chance. The OT goal was a heartbreaker where Dach, who otherwise had a good game, just got beat and there was nothing Lehner could do. I’m sure he’s salty about this one, but he has every right to be.

–Something very concerning was Adam Boqvist ‘s shoulder injury. He got boarded by David Krejci in the second and immediately skated off with his arm limp, and while he hasn’t been the most solid of players lately, the last damn thing this team needs is to lose a defenseman who can technically move the puck and is definitively fast. This would also be the second functional defenseman taken out by a shoulder injury (third if you count Seabrook but that’s another story). The only silver lining was that Alex DeBrincat finally scored a goal on the ensuing power play, but file that under “pyrrhic victory.” The Hawks picked up that random oaf from Minnesota but neither he nor Dennis Gilbert are going to help them get into the playoffs, whereas Boqvist will. Here’s hoping it’s not severe and he doesn’t miss the entire Western Canada trip, because if they don’t make up ground there, it will no longer matter if he’s able to come back before the end of this season.

–To return to Kirby Dach, he had another strong game yet couldn’t come through at the very end. He did continue his scoring streak, however, with an assist on Top Cat’s goal, where he (Dach) was cool, calm and collected in the crease which generated the rebound that popped out to DeBrincat for the goal. He had 3 shots and generally passed the eye test, despite his line as a whole struggling in the fancy stats (19.2 CF%, -27.8 CF Rel, -38.3 SF%, woof). I do not pretend to make any grand pronouncements about Dach right now, but he again showed what he can do, and what he needs to work on.

–Did Maatta have a hand pass late in the third? After getting taken down and on a delayed penalty, he definitely moved the puck with his hand, but it appeared in super-slow-motion to have ricocheted off his stick just barely, from where it made its way to Drake Caggiula who scored what would have been the winning goal. Again, a heartbreaker to lose out on something that close, and maybe the puck really didn’t graze Maatta’s stick and it’s a fair call, but that doesn’t really help or make it feel less frustrating.

So they got two points in two days, and are (I believe) two points out of the second wild card (that’s a lot of twos in that sentence). If they have any hopes of eking into that last spot, now is the time, and they better hope their young defenseman isn’t out for the season. Onward and upward.



We know exactly what it feels like to be what the Habs were tonight…dominant in possession yet unable to capitalize on the power play and losing to a mediocre team. The difference is, the Hawks have excellent goaltending and Montreal most certainly did not. Although Crawford (great as he was) isn’t the only story tonight. Some fourth-line luck and decent special teams work did what they’re supposed to do, and were enough for a win. Let’s get to it:

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–It’s hard to believe I’m writing this, but Zack Smith was the difference-maker tonight, proving that there really is a first time for everything. But hey, good for him, right? Early in the first, he and Drake Caggiula took advantage of Charlie Lindgren being Charlie Lindgren when there was a bad turnover behind the Habs net on the PK, and it resulted in Smith scoring a short-handed goal. Then Smith potted another (even strength) goal barely three minutes later, and it was undoubtedly the best period of his life. It’s easy to laugh at the situation, or laugh at the Habs for letting this bum score twice on them, but honestly it was downright refreshing to have someone different step up and score. Especially with this being the second of a back-to-back, having the fourth line eat up some minutes and be productive while doing so was exactly what was needed.

–Related: when Drake Caggiula scores on you, you suck. Sorry, Lindgren, but it’s true.

–On the other hand, Dominik Kubalik suddenly couldn’t buy a goal, and not for lack of trying. He had three shots, all of which would have been easy goals, well, last night or any game in the last little stretch here. They were those point-blank shots that make you wonder how it couldn’t possibly have gone in because given the laws of physics, it would seem much more likely that the puck would go in rather than stay out. In fact the top line as a whole struggled to find the back of the net, and it was when Caligula moved off the top line that he did end up scoring. It’s really not a big deal (who gives a shit if they don’t score in one game?), but my concern is that Coach Cool Youth Pastor will use this as proof that Kubalik-Toews-Kane isn’t the right combo for the top line because they didn’t score in the .02 seconds they had on the ice together. But here goes dumb ‘ole Caggiula scoring so he’ll be back on the top line by Saturday.

Adam Boqvist had a couple nice plays, although the stats were rather ugly for the night. In the first period he saved a goal when Crawford got lost in space and couldn’t make it back to the far post in time, and it was a good keep by Boqvist at the blue line that set up Top Cat’s power play goal in the second. He flashed some speed but finished with a miserable 24 CF%, so cherry pick whatever you want from that information. Our other tender-age star, Kirby Dach, had a no-good very bad game. In the first, he broke his stick on an power play attempt, right in the slot and you could practically hear the sad trombone sound, and he followed it up by taking a penalty a few seconds later to negate the advantage for the Hawks. Even beyond that, he fumbled shots, and his line with DeBrincat and Kampf only managed a 38 CF% at evens. Like the top line, it was nothing to get upset about–both Boqvist and Dach are going to have games like this–but it’s becoming worrisome that Dach has struggled for a couple weeks because he needs confidence and decent coaching at this impressionable stage. Right now he seems to be sorely lacking both.

Corey Crawford was outstanding as usual in Montreal. Admittedly he looked a little shaky in the first, particularly when he fell on his ass behind the net, all by himself, but it obviously only injured his pride. Losing his net when Boqvist had to bail him out was also concerning, but when it mattered most he was lights-out. He finished with a .970 SV%, and the one goal he did give up came in the midst of the Habs completely running over the Toews line, in one of the stretches where it felt like the Hawks were dispossessed for hours at a time (there were many of these). For all the Habs’ dominance in possession, he was up to the task the rest of the time with a number of excellent saves, and overcame some rebound issues early on. People can sing Lehner’s praises all they want, but Crawford is god.

–It was good to see DeBrincat score, especially on a power play. Nothing earth-shattering, but let’s take what we can get.

So far, so good on this road trip. Or train trip, which the broadcast wouldn’t shut the fuck up about. They honestly sounded like old-timey boosters describing the wonders of the new iron horse, as if millions of people don’t take trains every damn day (and as if professional soccer teams in Europe don’t use them constantly to get to games). Dumbasses. But hey, wins are wins, so onward and upward…


It’s time again for the good, the bad and the decent in the world of the Blackhawks…

The Dizzying Highs

Dominik Kubalik. With two goals in Saturday night’s win over the Ducks, Kubalik tied Victor Olofsson for the league lead in goals for a rookie. He’s had five goals in his last four games, and in the game before the goal streak began, he had a playmaker with three assists. Kubalik is doing good things away from the puck, too. Tying up the d-men at center ice helped set the stage for Toews’s goal on Saturday, and his possession at evens is at 50.2 CF%, and that’s with less than half of his starts coming in the offensive zone (47.1 oZS%). On a good team, Dominik Kubalik would be a role player on a hot streak. On THIS team, however, he’s an elite player who has firmly earned his place on the top line. But it’s a hot streak nonetheless and the Hawks need all the help they can get.

The Terrifying Lows

Jeremy Colliton. It seems too easy, right? Maybe it is. It’s easy to knock the coach of any team anytime things go sideways, and it’s really easy to knock a neophyte with a turd of a roster that needs to be polished. However, at this point there are serious issues with Jeremy Colliton’s decision-making that any Hawks fan or observer should raise. I’ve railed about them in game wraps recently, so let’s summarize: first, lineup choices. Colliton’s loathing of Dylan Sikura makes no sense. The guy finally popped his scoring cherry and is still in the press box. Ostensibly, this was the complaint about Sikura, although that view just shows you how little the Hawks’ brass values speed in a player. So fine–you hate him. You clearly need to trade him because what good is he if he doesn’t play nor do you get a player you don’t hate to replace him? But by marooning Sikura in the press box, Colliton isn’t even increasing his trade value by showcasing whatever skills he has to less stupid coaches and GMs. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Second, line composition. Again, I’ve bitched about this plenty but the fact remains that Patrick Kane isn’t a third liner and shouldn’t be stuck with Flotsam and Jetsam. Even he can’t make Alex Nylander look good. David Kampf is not a winger and isn’t helping Kirby Dach or Alex DeBrincat, nor is he providing the help at center that the team actually needs. And John Quenneville isn’t an NHL player, much less a top liner. The sensible choice is pretty damn clear (8-19-88; 12-77-95; Kampf centering two oafs; Carpenter centering the remaining two oafs), yet Colliton’s willful ignorance of this–or anything at least close to this–has long passed any excuse of greenness or knowing something that others don’t. It’s just bad coaching. Oh, and he can’t count how many guys are on the ice at a given time either.

The Creamy Middles

Jonathan Toews. If Kubalik wasn’t going off right now, Toews could be considered the team’s best player over these last couple games. He’s had four points in his last two, and he did some standout work defensively on the PK against the Flames earlier in the week. Since the start of the new year, he’s got a 58.2 CF%, which leads all forwards with the exception of Caggiula and Nylander (??), but those two have had exponentially less ice time than Toews. Captain Marvelous has had over 67 minutes on the ice, while Caggiula played 20 minutes in one game and Nylander’s had barely 30 minutes in that time, so they can fuck off.  It’s still a truism that Toews can’t always deliver both offensively and defensively, but recently he’s been managing it, so let’s enjoy it.


They’re not bad because they’re inconsistent, they’re inconsistent because…well, tonight I won’t bother to finish that sentence. The Hawks beat a crappy team, as they should, so let’s take what we can get, right? To the bullets…

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–Early on, it felt like things were going to go off the rails again when Max Jones scored less than five minutes in. But the Hawks righted things well enough, to the point that while their play in the first can’t be described as “good,” it can be described as “not horrible.” Jonathan Toews had a great opportunity where he actually shot the puck through John Gibson‘s five hole but it bounced off the post in some weird quirk of physics. But, he made up for it minutes later with a wrist shot, again five-hole, but buried it straight up. The best part was, he was on a 2-on-1 with John Quenneville and at no time in the entire sequence did he even pretend like he was going to pass it to Quenneville. He was absolutely right in his decision-making, but the lack of even the slightest pretense was great.

Dominik Kubalik is tied for the league lead in rookie goals. He now has scored five goals in his last four games, two of which came tonight so he was basically the difference maker and was deservedly the first star of the game. The first goal was off a beautiful backhand feed from Patrick Kane, who’s got a six-game scoring streak of his own going, and the second was a tap-in of a rebound off a long shot from Zack Smith. Kubalik has made it impossible for Colliton to reduce his ice time or maroon him in the bottom six, which you could just tell this doofus was itching to do, and that brings joy to my cold, black heart. The team really tried to get him a hat trick with an empty netter, but you know how empty net attempts go for the Hawks. No big deal anyway, Kubalik was great tonight.

Adam Boqvist had a good night too, or at least, a much better night than his last game. In the second, Keith had his stick vaporize in his hands, giving the Ducks an easy breakaway and Boqvist hustled to strip the puck, bailing out Keith and preventing even a shot on goal. He also generated a chance in the second, which was his only shot of the night but it was the kind of play we’re all looking for–a nice wrister from the dot after a nifty move into the zone. Boqvist finished with just a 41 CF% at evens and had the least ice time of any defenseman, but he was faster and more confident than Thursday against the Predators.

Connor Murphy, on the other hand, did not have a good night. He gave up a couple bad turnovers, including one that led directly to Jones’s goal. And yet he had a 58 CF% so it wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t passing the eye test, either.

Robin Lehner looked excellent in his first game back after a bruised knee or bruised ego or whatever it was. He ended the night with a .946 SV% and made a number of key saves in the third to keep the Hawks in the lead (if the Ducks had tied this oh lord I don’t want to think of how that could have ended). There was a particularly crazy save on Gudbranson early in the third that you’ll see on highlight reels somewhere soon. All the way around, a quality start for Lehner.

–If Olli Maatta scores on you, you know you suck. That’s all I have to say.

They needed to win against this shitty team and they did. It doesn’t mean all their woes are solved but it’s better than losing to a shitty team, no? Onward and upward…

Line of the Night: “Getzlaf had a chance but instead of shooting, he tried to pass.” –Eddie O describing…Ryan Getzlaf’s MO

Beer du Jour: Beach Blonde lager, Crystal Lake Brewing