The last three minutes of this game were the most pathetic display of hockey I’ve seen from the Hawks all year. The Hawks are officially and mercifully out of playoff contention. To the bullets.
– Let’s get the worst part out of the way. The last two goals the Hawks gave up were the direct result of defensemen flat out giving up. First, Seabrook watched the puck roll into the net on the empty netter. He half-assed his way back toward the puck as it exited the Avs’s zone, and only started busting it when he realized it was going to go in. A guy with his lack of speed cannot half-ass his way back to anything. Whether the Hawks had any shot at coming back is irrelevant. That sort of lack of effort would get anyone else (e.g., Connor Murphy) benched, but since he managed the Hawks’s only goal, and he’s Brent Seabrook, he’ll be right back out there Thursday. Unless he was hurt from the Comeau hit, his effort was simply unacceptable, especially with the “A” on his sweater.
Then, Oesterle found himself strolling back on the last goal after jumping into the play on the offensive end, watching Kerfoot pot an uncontested shot while he trailed like an unwanted puppy. Of all the things the Hawks have done this year, the last three minutes of this game may have been the most embarrassing.
– The whole giving up at the end thing really tarnished what was an otherwise decent effort. The Hawks clobbered the Avs in possession, posting 65+ CF%s in the second and third but, as is wont to happen when they play Varlamov, they simply couldn’t find the net. With the game still in reach, the Hawks managed to hit a post and Landeskog’s stick before the puck squirted out of the blue paint. At least some things never change, and horsing the Avs in possession and still losing looks like it’ll always be that shitty totem we go back to.
– Patrick Kane put his entire ass into this game for the most part. He was flying around the ice and drew so much attention on the PP that Seabrook managed a half slapper all by himself for the Hawks’s only goal. And even though Varlamov stopped it, watching Kane wind up for a FUCK YOU slapshot in the third was kind of cathartic.
– Whatever offensive upside Gustafsson has is buried by his complete inability to do anything right on defense. His whiff on a clearing attempt in the blue paint in the second nearly cost the Hawks a goal. He took a completely unnecessary icing penalty in the first. Then, also in the first, after jumping in on the play and taking a shot, he failed to get back, leaving Seabrook all by himself on a 2 on 1. Oh, and he had the lowest Corsi for the Hawks tonight, with a 42+ at evens. The team rate was a 58+. Bravo.
– And Seabrook was right behind him. I get that this year is now officially lost, and so it’s time to experiment a bit. But there’s no doubt that Gustafsson and Seabrook absolutely cannot play together regularly. Gustafsson is too reckless and unaware, and Seabrook is too slow and apparently unmotivated to cover. If this is the second pairing next year, then Rocky’s going to have to get off his fat ass and make some phone calls.
– After clubbing the MacKinnon line in the first, Saad–Toews–Kane fell apart. Each ended below water in possession for the game, despite a strong performance against the MacKinnon line on the night. And Saad looked either nonplussed or uninterested for most of the night, especially on the Avs’s second goal. While MacKinnon’s patience was the key to that goal, watching Saad sort of float in the Royal Road while MacKinnon stick handled in anticipation for a lane surely didn’t inspire confidence. He, more than anyone, needs next year to be here.
The only thing to worry about over the rest of this year is preventing injuries and seeing what the younger guys can do. I’ll be keeping an eye on Schmaltz, Vinnie, Kampf, Top Cat, Saad (pray for Mojo), and Murphy.
Just eight more, then this nightmare is over.
Beer du Jour: Left Hand Milk Stout and Guinness
Line of the Night: “He has one of the longest sticks and he uses it so well.” –Peter McNab describing Alex DeBrincat, who, despite being named the Player of the Year by the Blackhawks, continues to play on the third line with Artem Fucking Anisimov and Tomas Motherfucking Jurco.