An eight-game losing streak. A two-goal lead squandered. Numbers are not our friend right now. To the bullets:
–We basically saw a unicorn tonight: Keith scored on a power play (a sentence I was beginning to think I’d never write). Saad also got a goal for the first time since early January. It’s hard to know which one to be more excited about, if one thinks they warrant excitement. Keith took a hard shot from the point early in the second, on a tripping penalty drawn by Top Cat (more on him later). Saad’s was exactly the type of goal he needed to maybe get his confidence going. It was off a beautiful pass from Our Cousin Vinny, and Gibson belly-flopped leaving Saad with a wide open net to just taaaaap it in. Both goals happened in the first half of the second period and things were looking up.
–And then the defensive breakdowns came. Forsberg held up well during the first, including when Keith went all shinpads which led to a breakaway that he (Forsberg) stopped. But Murphy and Kempny both fumbled and allowed turnovers that directly led to Ritchie’s and Kase’s goals. As someone who has sung the praises of both Murphy and Kempny and argued LOUDLY for them to remain in the lineup, I naturally cringed at these plays, not so much because I thought they were particularly egregious (anyone seen the play of Jordan Oesterle lately?), but because I’m afraid both will get benched for making mistakes. It certainly wasn’t their best game, not for either one of them—Murphy managed to end the night with a 55 CF% but had the bad turnover, and Kempny only finagled a 41.4 CF%. But I still don’t want to see talented guys who just need some confidence, and probably some predictability, get fucked over by the Q Double Standard. To wit, Kempny managed to lay out and break up a 3-on-1 in the first, but you know Q won’t be thinking about that when the time comes for Saturday’s lineup.
Oh, and on that note, Seabrook was a mix of dumb and unlucky on the go-ahead goal by Henrique in the third. The puck took some bizarre bounces and he was left standing there rather helplessly…think he’ll be in the press box again? Hahahaha, I know, funny joke amirite??
–The Ducks falling all over each other in an attempt to beat up Hartman, who was smart enough to not engage, was truly peak Anaheim. Hartman leveled Silfverberg late in the second but it was a clean hit. Manson & Co. couldn’t jump his ass fast enough, and despite Hartman playing it cool he still got called for roughing, which was yet another example of shitty calls not going the Hawks’ way lately. Of course it’s impossible to know what could-have-might-have happened if the Hawks had had a four-minute power play, but it was a bullshit call nonetheless.
–Foley and Eddie couldn’t stop drooling all over Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma, but I’m here to tell you they sucked. If the Hawks were trying to showcase their wares in the trade marketplace (which I sincerely hope they were and I have to tell myself this is the reason they were playing on the top two lines), it probably backfired by reminding everyone how un-skilled they really are. I lost track of how many opportunities Bouma floundered away—a feed to Kane in the first, a pass from Hinostroza in the second, and on and on and on. The only silver lining of putting them on the top lines for this game is that thanks to the outcome, Q’s blender will dump them back in the bottom six.
–While we’re searching for silver linings, the kids once again showed us that there is hope. None of the younglings scored a goal, but Hinostroza set up Saad perfectly, he and Schmaltz had excellent speed throughout the game, and Top Cat was as good as we’ve come to expect. In the first, he was smart enough to stall on a delayed penalty while Anaheim was on a power play, effectively killing the penalty and extending what would become a Hawks power play. It’s the little things now where we have to find happiness.
–We’ve been saying it’s a goalie league, and this game was living proof. Forsberg wasn’t terrible but he got beat by Gibson being better, the latter of whom made a huge stop late in the third on Saad, and ended the night stopping 42 of 44 shots for a .955 SV%.
Well, this is where we are these days. Tonight they (again) didn’t play terribly, and for the most part they showed up and gave it the ‘ole college try. But sometimes it’s not enough, and this is one of those times. Onward and upward.