Everything Else Hockey

In a move that should surprise no one, Andrew Shaw called it a career at the age of 29 earlier this morning, in a move that sadly is probably a couple years overdue. After having suffeded his third major concussion in 4 years, the message of doctors finally sunk into that thick cocker spaniel skull of his, and it’s the right move for his long term health and for his young family.

Shaw arrived on the scene in the first half of the 2011-12 season as a Rockford callup who had put his time in as a fifth round pick, and immediately endeared himself to the large swath of meatball Hawk fans with a goal and a fight right away in Game 1. And while his cement head antics would keep him front and center and often detract from the team – he was always an overzealous offensive zone penalty waiting to happen – the fact of the matter is that he could contribute on all four lines, and was instrumental as a depth piece on two different cup runs, playing the style of playoff hockey that every team needs to get 16 wins, with his two famous OT contributions of the I Love Shinpads goal, and the headbutt goal that was disallowed. Of course, that same rambunctiousness led to suspensions for plowing into Mike Smith (which really, who hasn’t wanted to do?), and having a Heated Gaming Moment in throwing out a homophobic slur in 2016, which is truly a black mark on his and hockey’s reputation. To his credit, however, Shaw seemed to be truly regretful of using it, and sought to make amends by speaking with then-Hawks reporter and openly gay man Chris Hine as well as putting plenty of effort into the league’s You Can Play Initiative.

Shaw was traded to Montreal in the off season following the latter incident, and in return the Hawks received the pick they’d use to select Alex DeBrincat, so that was truly a case of the Hawks winning a trade, even if they did what they always do which is trade back for and/or re-sign players that have been here before. In his second stint over the past two years, Shaw has only played 40 total games over two interrupted seasons, and he’ll end his career having played 544 games with 247 points. It’s just unfortunate that the same style of face-first play that was the only way for him to make it to the league and stick here will ultimately be what ends his career before 30. But this is the right move for everyone involved, regardless of whether this is an actual retirement with paperwork submitted, or another LTIRetirement, which remains to be seen.

In other news today, according to many reputable sources such as Elliotte Friedman and Uncle Bob Mackenzie, NBC is pulling out of negotiations for the rights to the other half of the NHL’s American national TV package after ESPN rejoined the party a couple months ago. With NBC folding their national sports outlet NBCSN likely in an effort to push more people towards their subscription streaming service Peacock, and with ESPN paying what NBC did in the last contract negotiations for half the games, it likely seems like NBC did some cost/benefit analysis here and cut bait. And while Fox and its national network Fox Sports 1 were thought to be the other frontrunner involved, it appears to be Turner sports, whose NBA coverage on TNT is the industry standard for sports coverage both in their studio show and gameday production, and whose MLB coverage on TBS is lukewarm at best. There’s nothing concrete about anything yet with no official announcements being made, but it would stand to reason that plenty of NBC’s analysts are now going to be looking for new homes, and it would go a long way for Turner to endear itself to the hockey consuming public to bring on some of the youngish and diverse faces at NBC like our gorgeous boy Patrick Sharp and Anson Carter, but also by telling Regis “Pierre” McGuire to finally go do one, as there is literally no one (the audience, the players, his co-workers) who can stand his bullshit, but time will tell. Or just Ernie, Kenny, Chuck, and Shaq do the NHL show too.


Three overtime games this week as the Hawks ended up with five of six points that somehow doesn’t feel as good as it should? Anyway, who did what this week?

The Dizzying Highs

Top Cat – Scored in all three games this past week, so it makes him a pretty easy choice. And two of them were the kinds of goals that only he and maybe Kane are coming up with–the snipe against the Bruins that hit top cheese and the finish from in close last night.. There hasn’t been too much panic about his lack of goals so far this year, because everyone knows this is a world-class finisher whose shooting-percentage is almost half of what his career mark is. Some of his metrics are slightly down from his first two years, and you never know how someone will respond to their first real contract even if it starts next year. But the slightly less attempts and chances he’s getting could be partially attributed to constant line shuffling, and since being paired with Strome and Kane and being left alone we’ve seen those numbers start to arc up. And the Hawks need it. The assumption was they’d find enough goals, but that hasn’t been the case with Toews’s struggles. Top Cat and Kane have to be scoring at a top-tier pace or this team is sunk every which way. Hopefully we’re getting back to that.

The Terrifying Lows

Andrew Shaw – This isn’t anything about what Shaw has done of late, and that’s the point. This is about how the Hawks handle Shaw from here, because you probably can’t get a more clear case of a player who needs to be protected from himself. We know that if given the choice, Shaw will head out there tomorrow and throw himself face-first into anything and everything. It’s pointless to try and do a concussion count on Shaw, because we know there were times even in his first stint as a Hawk where he played through it. Looking back on his Game 6 in Boston where he was knocked out cold and yet still barely missed a shift…that almost seems criminally negligent now. Shaw would tell you that’s what he wanted, and most players would in that situation. Would he tell you that 10 years from now? 15? Is he going to be able to remember it?

We’ve been critical of the Hawks’ handling of concussions in the past, pointedly with Marcus Kruger. Of late that doesn’t seem to be an issue, and perhaps Corey Crawford forced them to really make changes. Yes, Dylan Strome played a game through one, but he didn’t report anything to the Hawks and took himself out after that. Again, this is an injury that somewhat relies on the player being honest with the medical staff, which we know a lot of them aren’t. The Hawks and hockey have a long way to go, but at least they seem to be headed in the right direction for once.

Shaw was put on LTIR today, and it would not be a surprise if he’s out a lot longer than the minimum of past Christmas. It would behoove the Hawks to have a long talk with Shaw and really explore whether having him sit out the rest of the season is a viable option. We know of four or five of these for him already, and he missed some serious time with the Habs because of it. We can be pretty sure what Shaw wants, because what else is he going to do? But the Hawks might want to have his better interests in mind.

And when he gets back, perhaps the applauding of any fight he picks should be put down? He can still be physical and play a Shaw game without taking unnecessary risks, because you feel one good straight right and his career is going to be over. These are the kinds of things Shaw needs to be told, because if left up to him…again, we know the answer. If he’s not 100%, and really 100% and not close enough to it that the Hawks can give themselves a pass, by the time his LTIR stint is over, it feels like the risks to have him play this year are too great.

The Creamy Middles

Dylan Strome – Did you know Strome was playing at a 63-point pace? I guess I didn’t realize it that much either until now. But he’s been pretty damn consistent when healthy, and even if that’s his ceiling that’s solid #2 center production which was the idea the whole time. Strome’s metrics, while by themselves are hardly shining, are much better relative to the team than they were last year, which is encouraging. He got clocked a bit last night but had some glittering numbers against the Bruins and Devils. He’s been exactly what you would have asked for, even if you don’t notice him pop quite as much. In a stretch of time where it feels like Stan Bowman hasn’t gotten anything right, this one counts as a good move.



RECORDS: Hawks 10-12-5   Bruins 20-3-5


TV: NBCSN Chicago

FRUSTRATED WOMEN: Stanley Cup Of Chowder

So you’ve just been fustigated by the West’s leader at home. What’s the best follow-up to that? Why, one of the East’s best on the road of course! Where they haven’t actually lost a game all year! Where they’ve collected 28 of 32 points! Sounds fun, no? Who’s excited?

Whether the Hawks like it or not, that’s the task they face. And they’ve brought their moms along with them to…Boston and Newark? What the fuck did their moms ever do to them? Don’t they go to Arizona and Vegas next week? That seems an oversight. Or were they afraid they wouldn’t be able to pry too many moms away from the craps table to go watch their sons trail in the Knights’ wake? We’ll discuss this another time. THAT’S NOT WHY YOU CALLED.

Anyway, the Hawks wash up on Causeway St. to find everything pretty much humming for the Bruins, even with Patrice Bergeron missing the past few games. They have the league’s fourth and fifth-leading scorer in Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, and the Hawks didn’t seem to be able to do much about the third-leading scorer in Nathan MacKinnon last weekend. The Bs have two goalies in the Vezina discussion, as both Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask have save-percentages north of .930. So if you’ve got one line that no one can stop, and a goalie every night no team can get past, what the fuck else do you need? The answer is not much, because the Bruins don’t have much beyond that and yet they’re 14 points up on what was thought to be the league’s toughest division. Some guys have all the luck.

Is there some air in the Bruins start so far? Maybe a little. They’re pretty middle of the pack in most metrics, and they certainly don’t create a host of chances and shots for themselves. They just have two guys burying them at ridiculous rates. They’re top-10 when it comes to allowing expected goals or scoring chances, which looks a lot better when Halak and Rask have combined for a .936 at evens. As you might expect, giving the Perfection Line a look with an extra man has led to pretty much instant death for any opponent, as the power play is clicking at 30.9%. That’s enough to get it done most nights right there.

And with this cushion in the Atlantic, the Bs don’t really have to fear a flattening out or market correction. 14 points even at this stage is a gargantuan lead, and unless both Halak’s and Rask’s head fall off and roll into the Charles, they’re not losing that. So they can look forward to at least the first two rounds with home ice. Their season is almost accomplished and we’re weeks away from Christmas.

In the big picture, you have to feel like the Bs need to find secondary scoring somewhere. Only Krejci below the top line has more than 20 points, and some of that is boosted by getting to play with Pastrnak in Bergeron’s absence. Then again, this was enough to push to the absolute limit last year, and it may just be no one ever figures out how to stop that line until Marchand decides to do it himself (which he always does). I wouldn’t trust any team that has Danton Heinen or Jake DeBrusk on the second line either, but they have 45 points and all I have is shit in my pants. So there.

The underlying cause to the Bruins is that they have three d-men who can really move the play in Charlie McAvoy (the mouth-breathing loser TM Fifth Feather), Torey Krug, and Matt Grzelcyk. The latter’s absence is last year’s Final was massive, and it deprived the Black and Gold from having a puck-mover on the ice at all times. Krug still has no idea what he’s doing defensively, but as he gets to play with Brandon Carlo most of the messes get cleaned up. The Bruins can play at pace.

Which is a problem for the Hawks, who can’t. Duncan Keith will miss both of these games, which means the Hawks are going to try and combat this unholy beast with five slow d-men and the moderate mobility of Connor Murphy. My eyes are bleeding too. Anyway, Dylan Strome sounds like he might make the bell, but Andrew Shaw and Drake Caggiula won’t.

I can’t sugarcoat this one for you. It has every chance of being ugly. The Hawks can try and leak out and maybe cherrypick their way to some odd-mans, but that will only leave them more exposed in their own zone. The Bruins aren’t a great possession team, but they have more than enough forwards who can hold the puck long enough and carry it low-to-high or the other way which always sends the Hawks into hysterics defensively. And even if you get out against the Bruins, you have one of two goalies who have been a wall to get past.

Stranger things have happened? That’s going to replace “One Goal” as the motto soon.



RECORDS: Lightning 9-7-2   Hawks 9-8-4


TV: NBCSN Chicago


It may sound strange to say the Hawks have more points than the Lightning, but that’s the case as the two ’15 Finalists get together again on West Madison. But of course, as we know here, that doesn’t mean the Hawks are better off than the Bolts. The Hawks collected their 22 points in the Cirque de Stupid that is the Central Division and Western Conference as a whole, whereas the Lightning are trying to fight through the gauntlet of the Atlantic. And one of these teams did put up 128 points last year, while the other missed the lowest bar for the playoffs in years by a good distance. And not that much has changed.

That’s not to say everything is rosy in Tampa. They’re sitting just three points above the Eastern cellar, though only two points out of the last playoff spot. While watching the Lightning, or trying to measure them by various metrics, it’s kind of clear that there’s still a malaise from last spring hanging over and in this team. Nothing they do in the regular season is going to matter to anyone, but sadly with the division they’re in they can’t play the whole regular season like it doesn’t matter. Which is kind of what they’ve been doing. Other than their power play, which has reached that “self aware” level, everything else is just meh. Right in the middle of the league.

The Lightning still score, as their overall goals-per-game and even-strength goals per game are in the top five. With the king of marksmen like Kucherov and Stamkos and Point and others, they don’t need to dominate possession to get the scoring they need. Which is good, because they aren’t. Their possession and expected goals numbers re firmly middle of the pack. Again, they can get away with that given the talent for long stretches, but it’s not ideal long-term.

Especially as they may not get the PDO balance at the other end right now. When picking through the rubble of last season’s meltdown in the first round, it was hard not to start with Andrei Vasilevskiy‘s .856 SV%. Anyone can have a bad four games of course, but any big save from Vas in at least Games 1 or 2 could have pivoted that series. The Bolts never got one. That hangover seems to have carried over to this season, where he’s carrying a .906. The Hawks will get the backup tonight, as Curtis McElhinney will take the start.

And that’s probably the biggest factor for the Bolts to get back on track, because they don’t give up a ton of great chances. They’re not among the league’s best, but comfortably in the top half. If Vas can get back to .915 or better, everything should be fine in Tampa.

It also might not hurt the Lightning that they’ve only played seven home games so far, and after this one tonight 14 of their next 17 will be in Tampa. You wouldn’t be shocked by a charge up the standings before New Year’s.

To the Hawks, who could or could not be with Andrew Shaw tonight. He didn’t practice yesterday so they’re going to see how he shows up tonight. If he doesn’t go, the Hawks will dress all seven d-men as they don’t have an extra forward at the moment with Drake Caggiula in a dark room somewhere (my whole life is a dark room…). Every time in the past the Hawks have tried the 7-D look it has gone horribly, and everyone bitches to high heaven about it after. I still think it should be something they try more often and with Boqvist involved, if only to shelter him and Seabrook better. It also provides extra shifts here and there for Kane, Toews, Saad, Dach, DeBrincat, which is a good thing. But what do I know? I’m just a drunk in the rain. Corey Crawford will be your starter.

The Hawks got embarrassed twice by the Lightning last year, though no scoreline truly reflects it. This was the opponent that put up 30 shots in a period on them at the United Center last time around. Quite simply, the Hawks aren’t built to deal with this kind of skill and speed. And really, neither of those things have changed.

The difference, albeit small, between what the Hawks saw on Tuesday and what they’ll get tonight is the Lightning defense isn’t as consistently mobile as Carolina’s. Sure, Hedman and Kirk ShattenKevin are, and Sergachev and Cernak are too. But Sergachev can get wayward when under pressure, and whether it’s Schenn or Rutta joining him that can be exploited. So can Ryan McDonagh on the second pairing. Whereas the Hawks couldn’t get behind Carolina’s last line, they can on this one.

Which means some other d-men besides Connor Murphy have to get the puck out of the zone as quickly as possible to get the defense to back up, which in turn will give everyone more room to breathe. As we saw last year, when the Hawks try their 17-pass breakout, the Lightning’s plus-plus speed at forward and on the forecheck swallows them whole and spits them back out inside out. There just isn’t time for that, at least not until you back them up by proving you can and will stretch the ice.

It’s a rough part of the schedule, as the Hawks again get one of the better teams in the league, whatever the standings say, before two with the hottest team in the league and then two with maybe the best team in the division. But if you want to go somewhere, you can’t always take the path of least resistance.


Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Evolving Hockey

The Hawks continue to ride the shooting percentage snake. Tonight was also about as well rounded a game as they’ve played. Let’s clean it up to put a nice feather in a good weekend’s cap.

Kirby Dach, you are our huckleberry. Dach’s been aces over the last few games, and tonight was the exclamation point on his current hot streak. We all knew that Dach had slick hands before he even got here, but the big question mark was how he would look skating at NHL speed. Tonight provided an emphatic answer. Just look at how badly he fooled Jack Eichel on his first goal.

Eichel’s caught flat-footed as Dach explodes through the neutral zone, then redirects Dach’s backhander right past Hutton. Credit A Little Bit of the Kubbly for threading that pass right past the forlorn Henri Jokiharju, but it’s Dach’s effortless stride that’s the star of the show.

On Dach’s second goal, it was almost the exact same play, just going in the opposite direction. Zack “You Actually CAN Spell Party Without Arty” Smith weaved himself into the offensive zone, swept himself into the slot, then dinked a pass to Dach, who once again outskated Eichel for a backhander. The speed-and-hands combo is going to be a nightmare for opponents if he can do that consistently, and it’s looking like he can. He ate Jack Eichel alive all night.

Kirby Dach is extremely good. He may be the cornerstone of the future for the Hawks’s forwards.

– Another game, another brilliant performance from Corey Crawford. Outside of a bad turnover behind the net that nearly led to a Sabres goal in the first, Crawford was about as flawless as could be. For once, the Hawks weren’t vastly outshot by an opponent (34–27 this time around), and they kept most of the Sabres’s attempts to the outside. There’s little more to say about how important Crawford (and Lehner) has been to this team so far.

Patrick Kane has a nine-game scoring streak with his PP-scramble goal. That creep can roll.

– Dominik Kubalik had a quietly good game tonight, which makes the fact that had just above 12 minutes of ice time in ALL situations a bit puzzling. Yeah, I get not changing shit when it’s working. But I can’t get away from the idea of Saad–Toews–Kubalik and the damage that line could do on both sides of the puck. That line’s missing a finisher, and Kubalik has the shot to be that guy.

– Speaking of Saad, he led all Hawks forwards in ice time tonight, and rightfully so. He and Nylander had three or four 2-on-1s that they just couldn’t make work, whether because of a rogue Nylander pass or Saad’s lack of finish. Those two were so close to making their possession chemistry click that I get keeping them together with Toews, but it might be worth pushing Nylander down in the lines. He’s had success when the stakes aren’t as high. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Back to Saad, his highlight tonight came on Toews’s goal. After a bad Ristolainen turnover on the near boards, Saad crashed the net and, per usual, got stuffed. But he stuck with the puck and found a wide-open Toews in the slot. A quick flick of the wrist and it’s 4–0 Hawks.

Connor Murphy looked good tonight with several key breakups. His sweep check on Lazar in the first prevented an odd-man rush. He had a strong block after a Crawford save on the PK in the third that prevented an open chance. When he’s healthy, he’s everything that everyone wants Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan to be.

– De Haan was entirely at fault for the Sabres’s only goal, with an unforced giveaway to Jack “My Father Is Younger Than Me” Eichel. His entire third period was piss, but that goal was the only mistake that cost him. Something to keep an eye on, because it was out-of-character bad for him in the third.

– I’m done with Andrew Shaw, friends. Yes, he got an assist on Dach’s goal, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that he can’t stickhandle for shit and his skating fucking sucks. The best example of this was at the end of the Hawks’s PP in the second. He had an unforced turnover in the offensive zone that he parlayed into a totally unnecessary neutral zone hooking penalty that put Buffalo on the PP. The Hawks killed it off and all, but this kind of shit would get most guys scratched. Shaw did end up toward the bottom end of the TOI mix, so maybe Coach Kelvin Gemstone’s brand is on the rise.

Taking nine of their last 10 points available is fun. The way they’re doing it is fun. Let’s enjoy this fun for as long as it lasts.


Beer du Jour: High Life

Line of the Night: “He’s trying to get off really hard.” Konroyd on Dach


Let’s get it out at the top, we don’t miss Eddie Olczyk’s insistence on calling Dominik Kahun “The Big Kahun-a.” Somehow, no one ever bothered to explain to Eddie, or he just never bothered to listen, that “The Big Kahun” would suffice easily. We’ll get the joke. Really, we will. It made it sound like he had indigestion every time he said the goddamn name. Fuckin’ eh hockey people have the worst sense of humor.

Anyway, the Hawks fortunes probably don’t hinge on whether Dominik Kahun is here or not. But if you consider the kind of game the NHL is these days, and the one the Hawks are trying to play in it, what makes more sense? Having a quick, smart forward who is interested and effective in both ends of the ice? Or cashing him in for a slow, not all-all-that-skilled d-man and then having to plug up the forward spot you just vacated with a dumber, slower, less interested and far more expensive player? Not to mention older? You see where this goes.

We know the Hawks figured that with the arrival of Domink Kubalik, that the other Dominik was expendable. Maybe even more so if they had an inkling they could pry Alex Nylander loose. And yet wouldn’t you be happier with Kahun taking Shaw’s shifts right now? He’s certainly more flexible, and less prone to ride on his reputation with the locals to loaf around the offensive zone until it’s time to take an idiotic and lazy penalty.

And conceding that the Hawks knew they’d end up with Nylander would concede that they also had any sort of plan, which is clear they didn’t. If the front office was committed to building a team that can play the way Jeremy Colliton wants to play, and that’s assuming the front office has any idea what their coach is doing, you’d want quicker and more dynamic d-men than you had. Ones that can win the races and play the high-pressure way and not lose their man simply because they can’t keep up or get back to where they need to be quick enough. You wouldn’t go out and get a plodder, much less two of them.

But that’s what the Hawks did. Which smacks of acquiring Maatta simply because he was available without ever considering if he truly fit. Same thing with Calvin de Haan, though they didn’t give up anything of value to do that. Worse yet, both are signed for multiple years, which strangles any flexibility. How do they plan on getting Ian Mitchell and Nicholas Beaudin and even Chad Krys on this roster in the next two seasons?

So where would the Hawks be better off? The $7M they’d have saved by just keeping Kahun, never bothering with Maatta or Shaw? Or this? You tell us which path actually speaks to having a plan and which speaks to throwing shit at a wall? And sure, Kahun will be due a raise after this season, but do you really think he’ll get anywhere close to the $3.9M that Shaw is getting? No, you don’t, because you haven’t been hit by a crowbar recently.

As we figured, Kahun has taken to the Penguins’ system like a dog to peanut butter, simply crushing the competition to the tune of a 57% Corsi and a 62% expected-goals share. He’s been used in the offensive end more often than the Hawks did, to be fair. He’s mostly skated with Jared McCann in The Confluence, and now with Evgeni Malkin back will probably slot into a third-line role which he was built for.

We still find it hard to believe that Jim Rutherford knows what he’s doing. But as GM of one of the three modern forces of the league this decade, he seems to be the only one getting it right. And by some distance. Fleecing the Hawks for Kahun is how you do that.


Box Score

Natural Stat Trick


When you pine for Marc Crawford to release you from the genital vise that is Blackhawks hockey, it’s safe to say the goddamn plane has crashed into the mountain. Fire everyone.

– Going into this game, the Sharks were the worst team in the West. They had lost five in a row. Martin Jones had a sub .900 save percentage. Through the first two periods, the Hawks managed eight (8) shots on goal. They had a 29+ CF%. McClure summed it up best:

The Hawks managed 14 shot ATTEMPTS against the team with the third worst overall goaltending in the league solely because DeBoer has strangled their transition. That’s a competent coach masking deficiencies against someone he knows will not have a strategy to counter. –@Matt_McClure_

Once again, Jeremy Colliton has shown that when the going gets tough, he gets his ass paddled red. Only this time, he doesn’t have the cover of saying, “Well, it was the Predators.” This was the worst team in the West completely annihilating whatever it is that Jeremy Colliton thinks is a strategy.

The Hawks gathered just three of eight points on this road swing. Fine, the Predators are good. But they also played the Kings, a team that should be relegated and is now officially the worst in the West; the Ducks without John Gibson; and the Sharks, the former worst team in the West before tonight. And they managed just three points. Embarrassing and unacceptable for a win-now team.

Robin Lehner at least kept it close for as long as he could again. The first two goals were hardly his fault. On the first, a bad bounce off Maatta’s skate led the puck directly to Timo Meier, who ricocheted a shot off Patrick Marleau’s skate. There’s not a ton Seabrook could have done to prevent that, aside from beating Marleau to the inside and keeping him entirely out of the crease, but if you’re counting on that, you might be Staniel Bowman or Jeremy Colliton, and if so, please resign.

On the second, an unfortunate bounce over Adam Boqvist’s stick at the blue line gave Evander “The Other Huge Piece of Shit” Kane a shorthanded breakaway.

Lehner probably could have had the third goal, but given everything he’s had to put up with over the last week, I’m not going to rag on him too much. Can you imagine this team without him right now?

– The Sharks crushed the Hawks in any sort of transition they tried to make. It’s remarkable that the Hawks are both too slow and too lithe to dump and chase, but boy did they ever try. This is the Colliton offensive system. For fuck’s sake, this team finished in the top 10 in goals scored last year. Without the happenstance two-goal wet dream the Hawks managed to fart out at the end of this farce, Colliton is facing down a shutout against Martin motherfucking Jones.

Perhaps worst of all his Colliton’s stringent adherence to the drop pass on the PP. In the second period, with a defender draped all over him, Adam Boqvist tried a drop pass at neutral ice. He was actively looking for someone behind him, which indicates that this was drawn up. Rather than giving your 18-year-old, fast, dynamic D-man a chance to shove the puck up an equally slow team’s asshole, Colliton wants his team to do drop passes. How progressive and forward thinking of this fucking wiener.

– Did you know that Andrew Shaw leads the team in hits, and that matters about as much as how long your foreskin is? If Colliton is still somehow the coach for this team on Thursday, you better bet your ass he’s going to be on the top line, because he happened to be on the Toews–Saad line for the Hawks’s first goal. Super glad he’s back to contribute exactly dick to whatever this year is supposed to be.

– Before anyone adheres to the inevitable DEY BADDLED BACK FROM DA JAWS OF DEFEAT MY FRENTS narrative that Coach Gemstone will rely on to keep his job in his next press conference, keep in mind that the Sharks had given up five goals in each of three of their last four games. And that Martin Jones, again, had a sub .900 save percentage going into it. This isn’t battling back. This is exploiting a bad goaltender whose coach put them in the prevent defense. As any football fan can tell you, prevent defense prevents wins.

– Although Boqvist couldn’t catch Piece of Shit Kane II on the breakaway, he did manage to pull of a nice shimmy shot late in the third. The kid’s got wheels and a wicked wrister. He ought to be playing more time than all of Gus, Seabrook, and de Haan, who each had more TOI than him.

– Reminder that the Hawks could have traded Erik Gustafsson at any point during the off-season and didn’t.

– I would like to hear more of Patrick Sharp talking about “hard dumps” and “hard rims” during each intermission.

At the very least, Jeremy Colliton should be out on his ass by Christmas. His systems (if you can call them that, and I assure you I don’t, because I call them wet dogshit) don’t fit the personnel. Likewise, Bowman needs to be on his ass no later than the end of the year. He put this team together to win this year, and the best hope they have is winning the lottery.

Fire everyone. Start over.

Beer du Jour: Bulleit, Maker’s Mark, and High Life

Line of the Night: “They’re just skating all over the ice not getting much accomplished.” –Patrick Sharp


The Dizzying Highs

Robin Lehner – This might be a touch weird to put a goalie who merely went 1-1 over the week here, and even the good “1” was an OT win against an unimpressive Ducks squad. But Lehner stopped 84 of 89 shots he saw in two games…let’s let that marinate for a moment…and had he not been at the top of his game the Hawks would have been on the ass end of an embarrassing result that would have had the whole league talking for a week. Even last night he held off a charge from the Ducks that could have resulted in the Hawks leaving SoCal with just one point instead of three.

Strange fact I learned yesterday, in the past four seasons Lehner has the third-best SV% of all goalies. Better than Vasilevskiy and right behind John Gibson. And that’s with a couple different teams, so he can’t be called a systems-goalie. He got that label by playing for Barry Trotz for a year, and the Hawks were able to use that as cover for a pretty good bargain, and getting better as their defense continue to turn every offense they see into the Bolivian army while Butch Lehner and Sundance Crawford reload in the corner of the building. The Hawks couldn’t be much worse off than they are, but they would firmly have their face in the toilet if it wasn’t for Lehner.

The Terrifying Lows

Andrew Shaw – We obviously had some trepidation when Shaw was reacquired, because it smacked of A. once again subpar pro scouting from the Hawks who again defaulted to “Hey I know that guy!” and B. wanting to cash in and sell tickets to the nostalgia crowd, even though they also say every ticket is also sold. Still, Shaw’s underlyings playing with Max Domi and Brendan Gallagher last year were good, and he has a skillset that the Hawks, in theory, could really use. Yes, signed for multiple years, but we could squint and see it if we ignored the name and number on the jersey.

Guess we know who was doing the real work in Montreal.

Shaw hasn’t been anything he was supposed to be–he hasn’t been a puck-winner, he hasn’t shown what used to be nifty hands around the net, and he hasn’t even really been an irritant to anyone except his own team and fans. The only thing that we recognize are the dumb, lazy, offensive zone penalties that seem to be cropping up because Shaw can’t keep the pace. He’s been a black hole, culminating in playing just seven minutes last night on the fourth line, where he managed a 30% Corsi and a 7(!) xGF%. Seven.

Clearly Coach Cool Youth Pastor has had it, and rightly so. But that’s ok, Shaw’s still signed for two more years to remind people of that time he bled from the face in Boston and played after getting knocked out cold, which is a totally healthy and responsible thing for a player to do and a team to let him do.

The Creamy Middles

Alex Nylander – Though it’s going to cost me a Greektown dinner in the spring, Nylander has been solid in California after being a horror-show in Tennessee. Though none of his teammates could escape that moniker either. Two assists in the two games, earning his way to play with the big boys, and one of the few Hawks who look like they can play at NHL speed. Getting better at making plays in traffic and not just needing space to do it. Now that we’re out of October and the grind starts to set in we’ll get a better idea, but solid production is needed from more wingers and he’s provided it.


Dear Jeremy Colliton,
We don’t know each other. Likely won’t. That’s cool. Anyway, I was at the game last night. Surely wasn’t inspirational. Truly impotent, in fact. I came home to find you bus-tossing your players in the press. Interesting move. We’ll get to why in a sec.

I want to be fair to you, Jeremy. So I’d like to list the obstacles put in front of you that either aren’t your fault or have nothing to do with you. It’s actually pretty long. So your job is hard. Very hard, in fact. Perhaps too hard for someone with your experience. You might never have had a chance. But again, let’s get to that a little later. So here they are.

-You’re not the GM. So hence, you didn’t put together this blue line that simply has no one with plus-speed. And other than one doofus who has completely reversed, it doesn’t have anyone who can actually handle the puck all that well (though Maatta has been better at that than anticipated). You have no transition game because of this. Not much you can do.

-You’re not the GM, so you didn’t put together a forward grouping that also simply isn’t fast enough and is a bit mismatched. It doesn’t really have enough forecheckers. You didn’t bring back Andrew Shaw to sell tickets (even though they’re also all sold? Weird that, no?) when what you really needed was an Erik Haula-type (he’s got seven goals already, by the way), A whole lot more speed to go with his puck-winning abilities.

-You’ll never convince me that even your entrenched veterans didn’t know it was time for a change behind the bench and actually welcomed it. But you still followed a legend, which means you had little chance of winning over the fanbase and your leash with the “Core Four” was always going to be short. They were open to new ideas and new ways, but they also weren’t going to be all that patient given what they’d known. That’s hard.

-Your best d-man is made of duct tape and boogers.

That’s a lot actually, Jeremy. You probably have every right to be frustrated, because in your first NHL job you shouldn’t have to deal with that. Especially when you were shotgunned into the position before you could have reasonably expected to be so. So…okay fine.

But Jeremy, you’re not doing anywhere near enough with what you can control, and your play of putting it on your players has little chance of working.

Here’s the thing, JC: this isn’t the doldrums of February. This isn’t when any regular season gets boring, long, and repetitive. Last season, your front office and even some of your players (almost certainly at the front office’s behest) wheel-posed to make it clear how hard it is to make changes without a training camp. This ignored that you had five months, and also ignored that this is hockey and you’re not trying to switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 or something like that. But that was what everyone wanted the fans to know. You needed a training camp.

Well, you got one. It was only three weeks ago, in fact. Should still be pretty fresh. And that’s when you’re supposed to instill belief, get guys to see what it is you’re trying to do, and get them to believe it will take them where they want to go. Make it clear that it will work if they are fully committed to it and get them to do that. That excitement should be clearly evident a mere eight games into the season. It should still be fresh in their minds. These new ways and ideas will work and they should be excited about it, if for nothing else that it’s still top of mind.

If they already think it’s bullshit, that’s on you, friendo. You had your chance to make it clear why this is the way forward without any distraction. Judging by introducing your players to the bus bumper eight games in, you borked it.

And is effort really the problem here? It can look like that, sure. But are you putting your players in the best spots to succeed?

This Strome-Dach-Kane line…what’s that supposed to do exactly? First of all, there’s nothing about Strome’s game that suggests it will adapt well to a wing. And he hadn’t really played bad enough to be “demoted,” and yet he’s been moved from his favored spot and off the first power play for Alex Fucking Nylander. You really expect him to play with verve after that? Or maybe play like he has no confidence?

Second, that line has no puck-winner, isn’t fast at all, and has three guys who all probably need the puck. Nothing about any of their games suggest they can flourish playing away from it and seek out space for the others. So what’s it supposed to do?

Your first line…again, you’re hampered by the fact that Andrew Shaw is a half-step slower than he was and also doesn’t seem clear on what it is he does that actually helps a team. You’re probably not helped either by the fact that it looks like Jonathan Toews when from 30 to 38 on his last birthday so far. But you still seem to think Toews is a do-it-all center. He’s not. And if there’s one set of skills that’s definitely at the bottom for him, it’s playmaking. He’s not going to get the puck to DeBrincat. He’s not a set-up guy, never really has been. So how does that work? Toews and DeBrincat worked ok last year at times, but they had a hard-worker next to them like Kahun when they did. And Toews’s most goals came with Kane and Caggiula. Now, I know that a team with real aspirations would never have Drake Caggiula on the top six. But hey, he knows what he is and does what he does, which is open up space for those who need it. You can’t seem to get Andrew Shaw to do that.

And it’s still your defensive system, Colly. You’re bottom five in the amount of attempts, shots, and expected goals you surrender. Again, that has something to do with talent on hand. But just last night, I counted at least three times where one of your d-men was just standing in between the circles not doing anything in particular. Either that’s the way you want it, which doesn’t make any sense, or your players still don’t get what it is you want. What happened to MAGIC TRAINING CAMP?

How many odd-man rushes did you give up last night? Eleventy-billion? That’s being shitty with the puck, and also a result of your forwards having to do everything, the latter of which isn’t on you. But still, being focused and smart with the puck…that comes from you. And why are you still trying to play a high-pressure game with a blue line that can’t move?

Oh sure, you can hang out Erik Gustafsson to dry again. That’s easy. That doesn’t impress anyone. That doesn’t grab anyone’s attention. He’s a third-pairing player who’s gone in a year at most anyway. So who are you talking about? Are you talking about Toews and Kane? No one’s really questioned their desire in a very long time, and only the latter’s which was some eight years ago. Anyone who’s seen what his offseason training program looks like would be hard-pressed to claim he doesn’t care.

Seabook? We’ve been down this road. You know what you have to do but are terrified of doing it. And it doesn’t matter until Boqvist is here anyway. You really want to  do something impressive? March upstairs and tell Stan to get his tiny Swedish ass up here so you can have at least one d-man who can initiate a transition game.

Keith? He looked pretty inspired next to Murphy, and he’s been your biggest critic. So whom are you aiming at?

Your team looks like it’s not working hard because other teams know they just have to clog the neutral zone a bit and prevent your forwards from carrying the puck the whole way, which they have to. It’s why only your third line looks good because it’s the only one that can do it at what is now NHL speed. Force the Hawks to dump it in, and they simply don’t have the forecheckers or speed to get it back. That’s not about effort, and that’s not really on you.

Who looks like they’ve improved from last year? Kubalik wasn’t here. This is what Kampf has been and is. Anyone? Maybe Maatta? That’s on you too, bud. Ask Matt Nagy about players not improving and who gets blamed for that.

But if you think they’re uninspired, well…you’re supposed to do the inspiring. And you’re not supposed to use the press to do it until you’ve tried everything else. This is kind of the last chord to pull. If it doesn’t work, where are you?

A Functional Alcoholic in Section 320


We used to do this every year, so we’ll get back to it. Your FFUD Hawks staff predicts what will happen in the upcoming season. 

Big One First – Predicted Points and standings for the Hawks

McClure: 92 Points, 2nd wild card in the west

Pullega: 88 points, 9th in Conference (just outside wild card)

Hess: 86 points, 9th or 10th in West

Rankin: 88 pts, 9th in conference

Feather: 102 points – 3rd in the Central

Fels: 88 points, 10th in West

How many games will each goalie play and how good will they be?

McClure: Crawford 46, .916   Lehner 35, 910

Pullega: Crow: 34. He’ll play very well (.920) but he’ll get hurt again. Robin: 44. He’ll play fine (.910) and probably get four years. Delia: Four because both bird boys will be hurt at the same time at some point. He’ll be meh (.900).

Hess:Crow: 20, will be good but not great (.912), and deal with minor injuries early. He gets traded at the deadline, sadly

Robin: 45. He’ll be slightly better than Crow (.918) and get’s extended
Delia plays 17 while Crow’s hurt  and then backs up after Crow is traded. Plays well enough (.906) for Hawks to keep him as the backup moving forward
Rankin: Crawford: 35, will be good but not great and will struggle with brown brain at one point

Lehner: 40, will be good but terrifying at times, .912
Delia: 7, backs up Lehner when Crow is out, mediocre
Feather: 47 and 35 but don’t make me say which will have more. I’m having nostalgic feelings to 2008-09 when Huet and Khabibulin were going every other start.
Fels: Crow 43 (.918), Lehner 30 (.910), Delia 9 (.908)
Will the power play be over 20% for the year?
McClure: Just under at 19.6%
Pullega: No. 17% tops. Gus is going to bask in his own farts from last year and crater any trade value he had.
Hess: I’m calling this a push, they’ll finish +/- 1% of 20%
Rankin: Just barely, 20.5
Feather: Yes (Hawk voice) Let’s say 23%
Fels: Nope, 18%
How many games will Boqvist play?
McClure: 26
Pullega: 9
Hess: 30
Rankin: 15ish
Feather: 33 – I’m foreseeing a late to mid-season call up when the Hawks can’t pretend he’s not their 1st or 2nd best defensemen anymore.
Fels: 37. Called up somewhere among the holidays when the Hawks realize they have no choice, but there will also be some inexplicable healthy scratches in there
How many games will Dach play?
McClure: 7
Pullega: 9
Hess: 9
Rankin: 9
Feather: in the NHL- Head too dingy
Fels: 70 – he sticks but has injury issues at times and there will also be some inexplicable healthy scratches in there
How many games will Versteeg play?
McClure: 15
Pullega: 15, 14 of them will matter
Hess: too many
Rankin: 12, and it will be ridiculous
Feather: Too many and not far enough away
Fels: I refuse to answer this and it’s my damn question
Strome’s point-total:
McClure: 69 (nice)
Pullega: 60
Hess: 27 goals, 81 points. Let’s fuckin go
Rankin: 60, solid but not astronomical
Feather: 23 goals and 56 assists
Fels: 21 goals, 55 points
Toews’s goal and point-total:
McClure: 31-40-71
Pullega: 28-47-75
Hess: 29 goals, 79 points
Rose: 30 and 75
Feather: 38 goals and 80 points
Fels: 30 goals, 62 points
Biggest surprise:
McClure: Calvin de Haan will actually prove to be a metrically solid defenseman
Pullega: Kubalik. 40 points, 25 goals (5 PP)
Hess: The Hawks trade Brandon Saad to Edmonton at the trade deadline
Rankin: Andrew Shaw is useless in the top 6 and takes absurd numbers of penalties. This will not come as a surprise to me but to his many fans, it will.
Feather: Alex Nylander – because reasons, buddy.
Fels: That Dach sticks as Hawks realize they only have about three seasons to work with.
Biggest disappointment:
McClure: Robin Lehner will not seize the position from Crawford, leaving the Hawks with two huge question marks in net at the end of the season
Pullega: I’d say Nylander, but that would imply expectations. Let’s go with Gus. 35 points.
Hess: That Pullega called Tampa “Ning.” Also that the Hawks have a lot of high scoring forwards and solid goaltending but still miss the playoffs because of the blue line being so bad
Rankin: Colliton’s adherence to a hybrid man-to-man system that doesn’t work with this lineup.
Feather: There are no disappointments in a 102 point campaign – only slight annoyances. I’ll go with Brent Seabrook and somehow still strong-arming his way on this roster when he may not be the 8th best d-men in the organ-I-zation.
Fels: Hawks trade Connor Murphy because everyone else is unwanted by every other team.
Western Champ:
McClure: Colorado
Pullega: Sharks
Hess: Colorado
Rankin: Colorado
Feather: HAWKS, my FRENT
Fels: San Jose (except I really think it’s going to be the team down I-55 but I can’t say it)
Eastern Champ:
McClure: Tampa
Pullega: Ning
Hess: Toronna
Rankin: Boston
Feather: Pittsburgh
Fels: Tampa
Cup champ:
McClure: Tampa
Pullega: Tampa
Hess: Toronto
Rankin: Boston
Feather: Pittsburgh
Fels: Tampa