If nothing else, this week was going to reveal whether or not the Hawks had indeed built on literally anything over the past 40-odd games after having been prematurely declared “fun” and “pesky” and “suprising” earlier in the season where they accumulated enough points in the skills competition where it was going to be extremely difficult for them to blow the 4-seed they had ensconsed themselves in. But, as has always been the case for the past three seasons under Coach Jeremy Bevington, despite offering a glimmer of hope (as they did Wednesday night), his teams will always blow any and every chance they have in critical games simply because he is completely overmatched on top of running an easily exploitable system. And in the case of the Predators, despite having no true top end scoring (and having the only person who might threaten with that label hurt in Filip Forsberg) and a complete cipher as a coach in John Hynes, their speed and like two basic adjustments – sit on blind breakout attempts up the wall, and have defenseman crash down if a Hawks d-man follows his check above the hashmark on a cycle as he’s stupidly supposed to – proved to be enough to take 15 of 16 points in the season series and ultimately torpedo any ill-conceived playoff hopes the Hawks or their fans/media may have had eyes on both in the macro and micro scale. It’s better this way, however, as there is a very real chance the wrong lessons could have been learned from positive results not matching a bad process.
- Not that it was surprising in the least, or that it would have ultimately made much of a difference, but Coach Cool Youth Pastor’s lineup decisions for this series were utterly baffling. While Dylan Strome has not maximized the opportunity he found himself in with Dach and Toews hurt to start the year, he’s been better, partcularly at evens, since he returned after the birth of his daughter. So to healthy scratch him against a team the Hawks had not scored more than two goals against all year in six games to that point in favor of seven defensemen was fucked from Jump St. Not to mention the back-end message of that of keeping Nikita Zadorov in the lineup at all costs and taking minutes away from young and fast defenders the Hawks need to find time for, despite Zadorov showing everyone over and over and over again how slow and fucking stupid he is, particularly against Nashville’s fast forwards.
- Furthermore, pulling the ripcord on Kevin Lankinen after he has been one of like 3 reasons the Hawks were in any way relevant in the playoff discussion however briefly, is curious to say the least. He was yanked early in the third on Monday after the Hawks’ defensive ineptitude led to two quick goals against Lankinen, which was also curious, considering that the Hawks had a timeout available. But in his infinite fucking geniousness, Jeremy Trestman has stated he doesn’t like using timeouts, and instead opted to swap in Subban in hopes of stemming the tide. Now Lankinen hasn’t played well against the Predators this year, but no one in black and red has, so to then go right back with Subban on Wednesday felt like a little bit of an ingrate move, not to mention put a ton of pressure on Subban given the stakes in the standings. Now with the Hawks ultimately winning that game, his start last night was more justified, but the results were ultimately the same. One of the few positive things that can be said about this bench this year has been how they’ve handled the goalie audition process and ultimately just let Lankinen run with it and didn’t jerk anyone around, and now they’re undoing even that.
- As for positives, Wednesday night’s comeback out of nowhere was very entertaining, and particularly gratifying because a ton of the other kids got involved, it wasn’t just the 88 & 12 show. Vinnie’s looked revitalized coming home and getting more minutes here, and had himself a real nice couple games Wednesday and Friday, and Wyatt Kalynuk continues to impress in his small sample size as an over-aged prospect. The game going to overtime and the Hawks getting the subsequent bonus point meant just a little bit more than nothing in the larger picture of the division standings given how far the Hawks trail in wins, both regulation and otherwise, but it was fun to see the Preds barf all over themselves for a few minutes, and with Dallas playing well with a few games in hand, if this point comes back to bite them in the dick and they miss out by one point, even better.
- Wednesday night was rough one for the Large Irish Son Connor Murphy, and in true Irish Literature fashion, he’s absolutely tortured and shat on for over 2/3rds of the story, is given a glimmer of hope and even slight redemption, but in the end it all ends up being ultimately futile and meaningless due to the crushing inevitability of oblivion.
- Alex DeBrincat on the PK – Not The Worst Idea©. There have been multiple bouquets thrown Cat’s way for his overall game rounding out this year in impressive fashion, so this seems to be a natural extension of that, as opposed to trying to throw Kirby Dach into the deep end on the kill and have him learn on the fly. DeBrincat is smart and responsible positionally, the only issue in this case is his size, as the goal of a penalty killer is to obstruct and impede as much as possible and simply taking up space can be a primary arrow in that quiver. But what he probably loses in surface area covered, he certainly gains in having a point man have to double clutch on a grenade pass or trying to hold at the wall given the threat he is to go the other way. A worthy experiment for the final 8 games, particularly given the opposition.
- Speaking the Hawks have a one-off with the Bolts on Tuesday, and then spend next weekend in Sunrise before a spending a full week in Raleigh for a three-fer against the Canes, with all three jockeying for seeding and potentially the President’s Trophy atop the division, so while the numbers say the Hawks still have a chance at a playoff spot, looking at this lineup shows just exactly why these three games with Nashville were so huge, and naturally, this being a Vinny Del Colliton team, they didn’t even come close do doing what they need to in a must win scenario.