Everything Else

You don’t need me to tell you what was important about tonight—but I will anyway, it was Corey Crawford coming back. And despite what the score was, he looked just fine. It was the usual suspects being the pieces of crap that they are that led to the loss, but you don’t need me to tell you that, either. To the bullets:

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Corsica

–After goal-a-thons in recent games tonight’s effort seemed rather anemic on offense. This could have easily been at least 2-0 Hawks at the end of the first, had it not been for Fortnite’s total lack of finish. Kane set him up beautifully multiple times, but to no avail. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him demoted back down to the third or fourth line after tonight’s performance (although it’s just as likely Q loves him and will keep him on the second line, so who knows). A poorly timed post by Schmaltz in the second period was another example of the Hawks being snake-bitten.

–Don’t take that to mean that there was no plain ‘ole incompetence tonight—that would be far too generous. Back to Nick Schmaltz, he had a pretty shitty game, to be perfectly honest. Yeah, his CF% ended up being 52.9, but that was a rebound from the mid-30s he had going in the first period, and he pulled his classic pass-when-he-should-shoot early in the third, which basically wasted a huge amount of time and space that could have been a good opportunity.

–But the real tale of woe here is Brandon Manning and Chris Kunitz and how horrible they truly are. We’ve already beaten this dead horse that they suck, but it’s hard to overstate just how much. Even with the aforementioned anemic offense, this game would have been tied at 1 (at worst), had it not been for Manning completely misplaying a 2-on-1 in the first and hanging Crawford out to dry, and had Kunitz not made a shitty, stupid pass attempt late in the third that Clayton Keller (GET A FIRST NAME, ASSHOLE) picked off and scored on to basically put the game out of reach. So after not being able to score a 5-on-5 goal yet this season, the fucking Coyotes found their even-strength mojo thanks to our useless clods who Quenneville refuses to sit, despite the availability of Brandon Davidson, Victor Ejdsell, and ANYONE ELSE FROM ROCKFORD AT THIS POINT.

–Alright, enough of what sucked. The silver lining was that really Crawford looked pretty good. Sure, there were a couple saves where he just barely got a toe on the puck, and in the second there was a terrifying moment where he half-somersaulted out of the crease and I held my head in my hands like I was trying to protect his brain by steadying my own, but all in all he was solid. That includes some great point-blank saves like the one he had on Grabner in the third, which at that point kept it a one-goal game (till Kunitz shat the bed). I’m guessing it’ll take a little while for him to be fully comfortable, and there’s always the chance he’ll regress after dealing with contact or other unforseen issues, but for a first outing after 10 months, this was a very good sign.

–You know who else had a good game? Erik Gustafsson. That’s not a huge shock as he’s been generally playing well, but tonight he had the lone goal after textbook passing from Toews and Top Cat during a 4-on-4 stint, and he made two huge shot blocks to bail out Crawford in the first and second periods.

–I can’t be mad about Raanta having a good game. And when Hjalmarsson was getting misty-eyed after his ovation I was basically at the point of yelling I’M NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING at the tv. And I can’t be mad about Our Cousin Vinny scoring two goals either. I want to be mad because this loss is extremely aggravating, but of course it’s these guys who I can’t hate.

So the Hawks were dealt their first regulation loss of the season, and to the fucking Coyotes (did I already complain and call them that? I did, didn’t I?). It was bound to happen at some point, but the fact that it came at the hands of The Team of Hawks Rejects and on the night Crow finally came back makes it all the more painful. There are still positives to walk away with, though, and with a barrage of games coming up that’s what we’ll do. Onward and upward.

Beer: Lagunitas Sumpin’ Easy Ale

Line of the Night: “Good players get a stick on it.” Steve Konroyd, throwing shade at Alexandre Fortin after he missed yet another great pass from Kane 

Photo credit: Chicago Tribune

Everything Else

AltLogo_medium @ shark

Game Time: 9:30 Central
TV/Radio: CSN/WGN720
Aboard The Orca: Fear The Fin, Battle Of California

Both of these teams can beat the snot out of the Ducks. We’ve now proven that. What can they do against each other? Well in the last meeting the Hawks scored 3 goals in just under 3 minutes in the first. It wasn’t a complete dominance though – the Sharks were able to make things interesting and the third period had its moments before Bickell put the game away three quarters of the way through the period.

In their last 10, the Sharks are 6-3-1 and they’ve won their last two match ups. They’re not really challenging Anaheim for the top spot in the Pacific since the Ducks have already built themselves quite a little lead out there. San Jose is firmly in the playoff race as usual though, even if no one really expects them to do much when they get there (except for maybe flame out in some horribly embarrassing fashion again). It’s no surprise that a line with Pavelski and Thornton has been producing. The two have been trouble for a while and Pavelski has goals in the last three games. He’s been pretty much a point per game player when taking on Chicago so he’s certainly one to keep an eye on. On the second line, Couture is actually tied with Pavelski in points but trails far behind him goals, 18 to Pavelski’s 25. Past the two top lines and those threats though, there isn’t much that’s scary in San Jose’s bottom 6, especially since that fourth line still is dragged down by our old friend John Scott. Hertl is still fun to watch but hasn’t quite found his form that he had at the start of his rookie year before he was taken down with a knee injury.

On the blue line though it’s a bit of a different story. Brent Burns continues to thrive as a defenseman when going forward. His 36 points put him in the top 5 in scoring for d-men but he’s in a rough spot lately with only 1 point in the last five games. Getting him going the other way can work to your advantage though. San Jose finally wised up a bit and paired him with Vlasic over Meuller. Giving Burns a bit of a safety net when performing his high wire acts. Beyond Vlasic however, the Sharks are a bit of a mess. If guys like Matt Irwin scare you, it’s probably only because you’d imagine he’d be really awful to deal with at party’s. He’s got a face that just looks like he’d talk your ear off for hours about playing Call of Duty while you desperately try to think of a reason to excuse yourself.

In the crease, we’ve got an Antti-0ff! Q opted to go with Crow last night against the league leading Ducks, so we’re going to see Raanta in his first start since the All-Star break. Niemi hasn’t ever been too stellar against the Hawks since his trade but he’s still a goalie that can steal the occasional game.

The Sharks remain a team that will be very good most nights and can look as dangerous as anyone in the league but still remain a team with some major holes. They’ll certainly make the playoffs. They might even win the first round. But I don’t think anyone looks at them as serious contenders for the cup. You’d have thought Doug Wilson was looking to just sabotage the team this year based on his summer but it looks like he even screwed that up. The Sharks are likely at a point where they need to blow the whole thing up and start over but keep holding on to hope.

For the Hawks, well.. just more of last night, right?

Lets Go Hawks

Everything Else

5-3 (Chicago Tribune)(Daily Herald)(Suntimes)(Hockee Night)(SJ Mercury News)

A frantic start: (Cheer The Anthem)

Finding ways to win: (FOX 32)

The first of many (Autoplay): (Blackhawks.com)

Stan is confident: (Comcast Chicago)

The best trade in Boston history is??? (Sportsnet.Ca)

Oh Yah dat Crosby is a wuss…Really????( CBC)

Apparently in a short season..Drinking games are taken more seriously: (Globe and Mail)

A Fighter’s life chronicled: (Toronto Star)