Game #51 – The Wash Is Out, It’s Hanging Up, And All I Have Is Nothing – Panthers 4, Hawks 3

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

As the favorite blog of Vancouver Femdoms, we were all ready to have daddy come back to the house and drag the Hawks around by the feedbag. But in a role reversal, the Hawks played a mostly decent game that was undone by several soft goals. Though losing the last game before the break isn’t ideal, especially with the two teams right above them—the Jets and Knights—losing tonight, winning five of the last six is much, much better than we thought. Let’s wrap it up for the break.

Joel Quenneville deserves everything he got tonight and more. It won’t ever not be weird to see him coaching another team. It may have been his time to go from here, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still miss what he did. The Florida feed showed the whole video tribute, and it was a really nice gesture to one of the most decorated and respected coaches in Chicago franchise history. We bitched about him all the time, but we also love and loved him. It was all very nice and well earned.

Kirby Dach was phenomenal tonight from start to finish. His puck handling skills and vision already have elite potential, and he showed both skills off a ton in the first. He had three plays in the oZ where he managed to not only keep the puck in the zone but also set up the next barrage of plays that followed. He did outstanding work behind the net in the first as well.

The most promising thing about him is that he’s not afraid to fight for the puck in tight quarters, and tonight, he won just about every puck battle he had. His backhander for the Hawks’s first goal was divine, as he made everything happen after receiving a DeBrincat pass at the blue line and placed a perfect shot high short-side on Bob. And the numbers flesh out the performance: He led all Hawks in CF% at 5v5 (72+) and finished second only to Olli Maatta in xGF% (72+).

He’s got the potential to be a cornerstone.

– On the other side, Robin Lehner had probably his worst game as a Blackhawk. Each of the first three goals he gave up were soft. Dadonov’s goal was inexcusable, as Lehner just got overpowered by a backhand stuff shot. Each of Frankie “Medium Pussy” Vatrano’s first two goals were goals that Lehner usually has: The first you can maybe give some leeway—with Koekkoek in the vicinity, DeBrincat watching the play develop from the slot, and Dach taking the wrong route to cover Toninato behind the net—but the second was an easy five-hole shot we’re accustomed to seeing him stop. Not a referendum, but certainly a disappointment.

– Don’t look now, but Slater Koekkoek has been really, really good lately. Tonight was a continuance of that trend, with Koekkoek leading all Hawks D-men in CF% (69+) and posting a very good 70+ xGF%. Ben Pope recently wrote an article about how moving over to the right side, which is his off side, has seemed to unlock something in him. Granted, it’s third-pairing duties and it’s a small sample size, but having an at least passable bottom pairing can give the Hawks an outside shot at this wild card. I wouldn’t bet on it continuing, giving his career track record, but he’s been undeniably good for the Hawks recently.

Adam Boqvist had a hot-and-cold game tonight. He showed good patience and tenacity facing down a 2-on-1 early in the game. With Trocheck bearing down on him, Boqvist took away the passing lane then hit the ice, forcing Trocheck to go both to the outside and his backhand, giving Lehner a much easier save. He also finished with two shots on goal, led all Hawks four hits (extreme jerking off motion), and led the Hawks in PP TOI, so he was active out there.

But as is becoming a trend, he got too deferential on the PP at the end of the game. The Panthers were happy to give him 10 feet of space knowing that he was going to go right back to Kane at the first opportunity. Once he either gets the order or the gumption to just start firing wristers when that happens, it’s going to be an epiphany. For now, it’ll remain a minor annoyance.

Patrick Kane scored his 1,001st point tonight with a booming shot off a Dach cross-ice pass. He looked a little off his game up to that point, but it’s still awesome in the most literal sense of the word when he’s got it working out there.

The outcome may not have been what we wanted, but the effort was there. Had the Hawks gotten the goaltending they’re accustomed to, they likely come out of it on top. That Dach was the best player on the ice should be encouraging to everyone, both for now and into the future. We’d still be shocked if the Hawks made a playoff run out of it, but they’ve come together pretty well over the last couple of weeks, and they’ve been mostly fun doing it.

We’re sure to have some thoughts for you about the team over the break while Sam does whatever it is Mavens do in their down time. For now, having won five of the last six and forcing themselves onto the fringes of a wild card spot, we can safely say this is a much better spot to be in than we thought we’d have.

Onward in 10 days.

Beer du Jour: Michter’s Small Batch and Ellie’s Brown Ale

Line of the Night: “Dale’s fine.” Quenneville on working with Tallon in Florida.

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