Fresh off two OT wins in Dallas that was leading some in the hockey cognoscenti to declare the Hawks AHEAD OF SCHDULE, and FUN, the team got to return home to face the ongoing extravaganza of comedic mediocrity that is the Columbus Blue Jackets. It’s been scenarios like this where Coach Jeremy Boylen’s teams have began to flirt with competence that they immediately shit all over themselves, so in this two game series, maybe it’s a step in the right direction that they only kind of did. Or it could just be a case of two bad teams smashing into one another for two straight games; it could be that too. But at least the Hawks were able to end the back half of the series in an entertaining manner on Saturday night, all usual caveats about 3 on 3 being a complete joke still applying.
- The third period on Thursday night was a complete catastrophic embarrassment, and can show just how quickly this whole thing can unravel with even the slightest dip in goaltending. No matter how bad a team is, basically starting the third period with a two goal lead, and still having a one goal lead with 5 minutes left in the game, and then losing in regulation where the opposition didn’t even score with an extra attacker is absolute defensive and deployment malpractice no matter if a goalie is fighting it or not. And based on the number of times Kevin Lankinen has papered over a complete lack of defensive structure, picking him up once in that scenario shouldn’t be too much to ask of a team.
- In both games, the Hawks got their doors absolutely blown off in the third period via possession. On Thursday night it’s slightly understandable considering the Blue Jackets were chasing during the majority of it. However, last night, the Hawks were down a goal and were outshot 12 to 4 against a team that gives up basically as many 5v5 attempts against as the Hawks do. Even the slightest bit of structure from an equally flawed and incomplete roster is able to stifle this team even when they should be pressing and trying to send the house at the opposition down a goal in the third. They got the goal they were looking for, but it was more luck than anything, especially with how Korpisalo played until that point.
- Speaking of the Jackets’ coaching, with Patrik Laine running around and trying to barrel into people and starting fights on Saturday night, it appears that Torts got the results he was looking for when he benched him earlier in the week. There was always room for Laine to become at least a bit more active in the other two zones if not turn into Jere Lehtinen, but trying to become Cam Neely overnight is probably a reach and clearly isn’t suited for him.
- On the flip side of that exchange, while the FFUD Official Stance on fighting has been well established, it was certainly gratifying to see emerging fan favorite Brandon Hagel feed Laine his lunch after Laine took issue with Hagel’s clean (albeit blindside) hit on Jack Roslovic. That Laine got the extra two minutes as an instigator was also quite excellent. As they say in the old country, “Run up, get done up”.
- It’s truly amazing what these young, highly touted, fast, offensively oriented defensemen are capable of when they’re let off the leash a little bit, isn’t it? That said, Nicolas Beaudin is still getting swirlied in his own zone, and having Nikita Zadorov as a partner isn’t helping things a damn bit.
- It appears Alex DeBrincat has shaken off last year’s snakebite and is back to filling the net on a regular basis, with 8 goals and 16 points now in just 12 games, and more importantly, his shooting percentage is at 18% at all strengths, which is where it was two years ago during his 41 goal breakout campaign. And the game winner was a nifty little display of what he can do if he’s given anything more than a millisecond of time or space.
- Up next the Hawks travel to Detroit for another series with the Red Wings, whose victory last night is causing the Predators a full blown existential crisis. The same Red Wings who the Hawks dog walked, and the same Predators who put up 80 shots in two games against the Hawks. It’s a weird year, strap in.