Hockey

With the season all but over now, the only point to watching the Hawks going forward should be to see what the younger players have to offer in a couple of actual NHL games. Instead they’re all down in Rockford to help them in their “playoff run” in the AHL. That’s nice and all, but in reality they all need to be up here getting experience against legitimate playoff teams (because the Hawks are going to lose to a few of them in the next week and a half) at the highest level that hockey can offer. Lukas Reichel doesn’t need to be bum slaying down in RockVegas where he potentially could take an elbow to the head by some career minor leaguer. I also don’t need to see the pale, gooberish face of Erik Gustafsson on my TV anymore while Ian Mitchell and Nicholas Beaudin rot in RFD.

Honestly, other than the trade of Brandon Hagel to Tampa Bay (which to be fair was a very good deal), our Shiny New GM has not done much to fill me with confidence in his ability to steer the ship through Rebuild Bay. The rest of the deadline deals were somewhat meh, and his insistence of keeping some of the prospects in Rockford over playing up here is mysterious at best. His real work will begin this summer at the draft in deciding what he wants to do with Kane and Toews moving forward, but the initial returns are not promising.

BUT THAT’S NOT WHY YOU CALLED!

 

 

Wednesday 4/20

Hawks 4 – Coyotes 3 (OT)

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

 

It’s appropriate that this game occurred on 4/20, because being stoned out of your gourd would be the best possible way to watch these two bottom feeder teams slam their heads together like rams on the side of a mountain. It ended up being exactly what you’d expect from the Hawks and Yotes, except for the outcome where Alex DeBrincat potted the game winner in OT when he buried a sick feed from Kaner past something named “Karel Vejmelka” for his 40th of the season. The Hawks (as is their way) coughed up not one but two 2 goal leads before putting the game away in OT. Alex Vlasic also got his first career goal as a Hawk, so that’s something you can tell your children about 30 years from now when they put you in a home.

 

Thursday 4/21

Hawks 1 – Kings 4

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Woof.

The Kings fucking smoked the Hawks right out of the Staples Center on this one (it’s always gonna be the Staples Center, no matter how much CryptoFartWankJob.Com might want it to be otherwise), scoring twice in 15 seconds at one point. On top of that, Phil Danault gave us yet another reminder about how much a fucking moron Stan Bowman is by opening the scoring 9 minutes into the game. The CORSI shows just how much a waxing this was by the Kings, as they averaged just over 70% of the possession time in the game, peaking in the 2nd where they held a 75% share. Unreal. Anyways, Kane scored his 26th of the season, and that’s about the only highlight for the Hawks in this one. Good seats still available!

 

Saturday 4/23

Hawks 1 – Sharks 4

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

 

Looking at that chart and nothing else, one would be lead to assume the Hawks beat the Sharks like a drum up and down the ice. Sadly, sometimes puck luck and a hot goalie can have other ideas, as Kaapo Kahkonen made 27 saves (quite a few of them being of the high danger variety) in his second win since being sent over from the Wild at the deadline. The Hawks also carried a 75% CORSI share in the 1st period, which is EASILY the highest number they’ve had all season, and potentially all decade.  Tyler Johnson potted one for the Hawks here, which is nice to see for his own sake in this injury-ravaged season that he’s having.

One thing that has become abundantly clear is the Hawks goaltending situation may be the single most important issue that Kyle Davidson deals with going forward. While Kevin Lankinen isn’t entirely to blame (the defense being played in front of him is eye-bleedingly bad), I think we’ve seen enough to show that he’s not going to be The Guy going forward. He would be a very capable backup for whoever the Hawks ultimately anoint as the goalie of the future, but his sole purpose going forward is to eat as many minutes as necessary while the next generation learns on the fly.

The march towards the inevitable heat death of the Blackhawks season continues this week with games against Philly, Vegas and Buffalo. Two of those 3 should be winnable games, but the only one that matters is the Vegas one as the Knights attempt to cling onto their playoff hopes as they chase down Nashville. While it probably won’t happen, it would be kinda fun for the Hawks to step on their fingers as they cling to the side of the cliff.

Onward.

Hockey

Pardon the title of the preview, but I watched Get Back on Disney Plus the other day and have been listening to Beatles tracks ever since. Anyways, the Hawks played as expected the past 3 games since coming back from their extended Xmas Vacation, getting smoked in all facets in the Nashville and Calgary games and then playing a solid 58 minutes against Colorado but ultimately falling to a simply disgusting Makar OT goal.

What is becoming clearer by the minute is that the Blackhawks are desperately short on skaters that can finish off their shots. Outside of Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat (who is shooting absolutely lights out at a 19% rate, and will eventually come back down to earth) the cupboard is bare at the NHL level. This was never more apparent when Kirby Dach got run down in the 2 on 1 in the 3rd period against the Avs. Ultimately this will result in more of the same for the Hawks, making it only so far in games as Marc Andre Fleury can carry them and hoping Kane and Cat are able to pot a few before the dam breaks.

Reading the tea leaves as to why Lukas Reichel hasn’t been called up from Rockford yet is a pretty clear statement from Kyle Davidson as to what he thinks of the Hawks chances going forward. Why waste a year on his rookie deal for half of a wasted season? While the analytical part of my lizard brain agrees with this, the hockey fan in me wants to see what this kid can do. It would at least give us something to write about other than “the Hawks sucked again,” which feels like what I was doing in 2017-18 covering the White Sox for this joint.

Anyways, here’s who’s next for the Hawks this week:

 

1/6 @ Coyotes

Game Time: 8:00 PM CST

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720

Hockey Fans More Depressed Than Us: Five For Howling

 

If there were ever a salve for a hockey team that just had it’s ass lit on fire by 3 top tier teams, playing the Desert Dogs would be aloe vera. Not only are they constantly playing under the threat of being locked out of their own arena, the city they call home is actively trying to get them to leave. Not a very conductive work environment, and it shows. Sitting at or near the bottom in every advanced metric the internet could concieve of, the Coyotes are the A#1 team in contention for the first overall pick in the summer. While the Hawks are terrible in goal differential, the Yotes are taking it to an entirely new level with a -56 mark less than halfway through the season. To put that into perspective, the worst goal differential in 2018-19 for the whole SEASON was -64 (hello, Ottawa), so yeah. They’re bad.

There are some pieces that can be salvaged at the deadline for them, however. Professional Hot Dog Man Phil Kessel is here, and 3rd on the team with 21 points and entering his free agent season. Shayne Ghost Bear has one year left on his 4.5 million dollar deal and is producing nicely from the back end on the PP. Assbag Antoine Roussel is also here, and brings that idiotic element that teams so love to acquire for the playoff run. Nick Schmaltz is also here and has 6 points, so…I guess that’s one trade that Bowman actually won.

The only player worth talking about with a future in the organization is Clayton Keller. Drafted 1st overall in 2016, the Yotes handed him an 8 year, $57 million dollar extension last season. He’s rewarded them for doing so by being the team’s leader on the ice night in and night out. While he’s generously listed at 5′ 10″, Keller plays a much bigger game than you would expect, and has the type of finish that reminds you of Alex DeBrincat. More impressively he does most of his damage at even strength, as only 3 of his 21 points have come on the man advantage. If the Hawks D can keep a lid on him, the odds of picking up 2 points goes up exponentially.

 

1/8 @ Vegas

Game Time: 9:00 PM CST

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720

Degenerates Unite: Sin Bin Las Vegas

 

After a very rough start to the season (7-8 in their first 15), the Knights have righted the ship and find themselves back atop the Pacific Division having gone past the surprising Ducks of Anaheim in the last week. Much of this is due to the Knights forwards finally remembering which end to shoot at. And boy do they shoot at it, because if the Knights don’t pot more than 3 goals a night it’s tough for them to win. After choosing Brain Genius Robin Lehner over MAF, the Knights GAA sits above 3.00 for the first time in their existence. As a team, the Knights have given up merely 2 more than the Hawks have (granted they’ve played 3 more games) and 37 more than conference leader Calgary.

The flip side of that is the Knights lead the West in scoring by a pretty large margin. Leading this charge is Washington castoff Chandler Stephenson who is tops on the team with 34 points. After him come the usual suspects in Reilly Smith, Shea Theodore and Mark Stone. The Knights can run 4 lines out there and have all of them score, and this is even before the eventual debut of ole Slinky Neck Jack Eichel. Take the over in this one.

 

1/11 @ Columbus

Game Time: 6:00 CST

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720

Did You Know Ohio State Is In Columbus?: Jackets Cannon

 

Another team slumming it at the bottom of the league statistically, the Blue Jackets are another opportunity for the Hawks to pick up some points on this Sherman-esque march to the sea. Columbus is very similar to the Hawks in terms of being unable to keep other teams from scoring, and only getting their own goals from very limited sources. The good thing for the Jackets is that all the goals they ARE getting are from the younger draft pick crowd. Alexandre Texier, Oilver Bjorkstrand and Zack Werenski are all going to be bright parts of the Jackets future. Even some of the “older” players like Boone Jenner and Gus Nyquist are still well South of 30, and could be a part of that future.

Boone Jenner currently leads the team with 11 goals, half of which come on the man advantage where he does most of his damage between the dots. Bjork Bjork Bjork leads the team with 23 total points, and is a lot of fun to watch with his combination of speed and hands. Also Jake Voracek is here.  In between the pipes is where the Jackets have issues, as their GAA over the last month and a half is North of 3.50. CBJ had brought up Daniil Tarasov up from the AHL to fill in for the broken (and terrible) Joonas Korpisalo, where he performed pretty admirably before leaving the game against Carolina with a lower body injury. Korpisalo is back now, and he’s been teaming with Elvis Merzlikins to be extra terrible. The Jackets have given up 7 goals in each of their last 2 games, and weren’t exactly setting the world on fire before that. This game seems like a good chance for Fleury to steal one for the Hawks, but again I’d still take the over.

 

Hockey

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

The urge is be disappointed that the Hawks couldn’t get this one in regulation. They worked through the rust pretty quickly, certainly created enough to win easily in regulation (though gave up enough to lose it too), had a two-goal lead, but still needed the carnival game to get the second point. But you can’t legislate for Antti Raanta playing like it was last year instead of this one. This is how the Hawks have to do it. Get it open, trade chances, and bank on their goalie outplaying the one at the other end. Most nights, pretty much every night, Crow’s performance would have been more than enough. He was matched tonight by Raanta, so you get a split decision win. It happens.

Considering where they stand and the tiebreaker being just regulation wins, the Hawks aren’t as bad as I thought so winning in extra time isn’t as disadvantageous as I thought, either. They’re within one or tied or up on reg. wins with just about everyone around them, which is a sad state of affairs in the West. Three points back of Arizona, with two games in hand. Can’t take their foot off the pedal, but at least it’s interesting.

Let’s get to it…

The Two Obs

-As you would expect, it took the Hawks five or 10 minutes to find their sea legs again, as they gave up way too many good chances and didn’t let Crawford breathe much. The xG for the period being .94 to .26 tells you pretty much everything. They were sloppy with the puck and couldn’t quite get that extra foot as they adjusted back to game pace. But hey, they survived it.

-The season isn’t totally about development, but there were big moments from both Dach and Boqvist tonight. The latter clowned Taylor Hall twice when one-on-one with him. He out the Hawks in trouble in the second by turning into trouble and just handing the puck over, but you take the good with the bad. On the power play just once I’d like to see him fake the drop pass and just steam into the zone and see what he can do with only three back there, but he’s probably under specific instructions. The important thing is the defensive game isn’t nearly as helpless as some would have you believe.

Dach created the second goal with more good work on the boards (which he’s been excellent at all season) and then the vision to find Kane who found Saad. That line was a threat all night and clearly Dach was relishing finally getting to play with some real talent. Let’s see a whole lot more of this.

-Drake Caggiula continues to be useful. You’ll know the Hawks are ready to do things that matter again when he’s on the third line permanently.

-On the flip side, it was something of a rough one for Toews. 40% Corsi, 41% xG, and haphazard with the puck all night. Capped it off with a lazy penalty late in the third which the Hawks can’t have.

-So, when we get down to 15 games left or so, or the end of the month, and if Crow continues to outplay Lehner as he has of late here, what will they do? We’ll save this question for later because we’re nowhere near there yet. Let’s just enjoy how good Crow has been of late.

-Maatta and Koekkoek were to blame for the second goal, as Fetch got absolutely done in by speed and then just kind of went out walkin’ after midnight somewhere else and Maatta wasn’t quick enough to come over. But then how could he be expecting Koekkoek to just wander off like Layne Staley used to do offstage? Anyway, they’ve been a solid enough third pairing, and sometimes your third pairing is going to fuck up. You live with it. It’s why they’re a third pairing. It was cute that it came right as Konroyd was extolling their play of late. That’s a motherfuck this whole blog can be proud of.

-God, Top Cat just can’t buy one right now, can he? He’ll binge soon, and you just have to hope the rest of the Hawks game doesn’t fall around it so it can result in more points.

-It’s fun to be in the race, but the Hawks have had to be this hot just to get within hailing distance. Which means they can’t stop.

Onwards…

Hockey

vs.

RECORDS: Hawks 24-21-6   Coyotes 26-21-6

PUCK DROP: 6pm

TV: NBCSN Chicago

NO REGRETS: Five For Howling

The Hawks won’t get to ease their way back into the swing of things after their midseason bye, as they’ll immediately be plunged into something of a wildcard four-pointer in Arizona. And this has not been a location that has been too kind to the Hawks of late, nor the opponent.

The Hawks only have one win in their last five games against the Yotes, and they were popped there earlier in the season and lost what was essentially their last stab at relevance late last season. You wouldn’t think this would be such an issue for the Hawks, given the lack of star power Arizona has and the usual majority of Hawks fans in the stands making it a de facto home game. But their collective speed on every line provides the same problem that teams like Vegas or Colorado do, just on a smaller scale. They can harass the Hawks deep in their own end into mistakes and streak out of their zone away from the Hawks to get into open space.

The Hawks won’t be allowed any excuses tonight, however. They’re four points behind the Yotes, who hold the last wildcard spot, but have two games in hand. Thanks to the Jets incompetence and the Preds not being a whole lot better (as well as having their own bye), the Hawks are still in this with only Nashville to leap to get to Arizona. And the Predators have a date with Vegas tonight, so the Hawks can jump over them tonight if results go their way.

They should be seeing an ornery team, as the Yotes returned from their bye earlier in the week and promptly only took one point out of four against hanging curveballs Anaheim and LA. They would have looked at this three in four as a spot to really cement their status as playoff contenders, but could be looking at truly biffing it if they lose to the Hawks. And this isn’t a team that should be overflowing with confidence, given their history of fading into the background consistently.

Injuries have been an issue, most notably with Darcy Kuemper missing weeks as he was the anchor to this team. He won’t return tonight but is due back very soon, probably their next game. Without him, the Yotes’ weaknesses are much more easily exposed, as Antti Raanta and Adin “Silent” Hill have been hardly worth writing songs about. Those weaknesses are pretty much they can’t hit a bull in the ass with a banjo. They don’t score much, they don’t possess the puck much, and they’re barely a middling defensive team. If you dismiss Oliver Ekman-Larsson as a “Yeah, but who gives a shit?” guy, there really isn’t a star anywhere on this team. Phil Kessel was brought in to be that, but much like the story he’s getting old now.

Taylor Hall was then brought in to be what Kessel might not be able to be anymore, and he’s put up 16 points in 18 games as a Yote. He gives them what should be something like two scoring lines, as Keller and Kessel are on the other one. But Keller has one point in nine, and Kessel is a few months away from doing ads for The General car insurance. They’re depending a lot on Hall, Dvorak, and Garland, though the top line of Keller-Stepan-Kessel has been possession-mutants.

Defensively, without OEL there isn’t really an advanced puck-mover here. Chychrun chips in goals with a booming shot but it’s not really what he does. Alex Goligoski is getting up there in age. Maybe Ilya Lubishkin, but he’s no guarantee for the lineup. OEL is a miss, whatever you consider him.

To the Hawks. Just about everyone other than the long-term casualties is reporting for duty, as it looks like Dylan Strome is going to make the post. That leaves the Hawks just one winger short of a pretty keen “3+1” model, with Dach at least getting limited looks between Kane and Saad and Top Cat reuniting with Strome. Kampf will continue to try and square-shape into that round hole as the other winger on that line for now. No word yet on which goalie will start but considering the way Crawford was playing and the way Lehner kind of had a hiccup that almost made him barf against Florida, the money is on Crow.

You can count on the Coyotes to try hard, because they have to, and because they’re coming off two disappointing results. You can probably expect a pretty scratchy first period from the Hawks, as they try and figure out how their legs and arms work again and get timing down. So really, just wading through the first 20-30 minutes is the order of the day, and then if things are still tied or in one goal the Hawks can begin to find their game. They’ll have to be tight with the puck in the offensive end, because this Arizona team will be looking to spring on them and away from them at the first sign of a turnover.

This is a big month, as February doesn’t tend to be. The schedule is very road-heavy, but that’s suited the Hawks better all season. Most games are against teams around them or below them. If you’re a part of this, then be a part of this. Otherwise, stop wasting our time.

Hockey

As we’ve stated over and over every time the Coyotes show up on the schedule, the biggest obstacle to them mattering has been a lack of frontline scoring. They’ve gotten great goaltending from a couple different guys. With a blue line that contains Ekman-Larsson, Chychrun, Demers, Goligoski, and Hjalmarsson, that’s a pretty decent platform for a team. And yet the Coyotes haven’t been able to get to the playoffs, and only last season and this one have they even been in the conversation. Cast your mind back and see if you can recall a genuine top line player who donned…well, whatever color it is they wear. We’ll wait.

Don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere…

Ok, now that you’ve failed let’s get to the heart of it. There hasn’t been one. The acquisition of Taylor Hall for a song before he hits free agency was clearly meant to remedy this. So was the trade for Phil Kessel over the summer, though it might just be that age and indifference (and the hot dogs, of course) have caught up with him and his 11 goals.

Still, from within the idea was that Clayton Keller would solve this. 45 points in his only season at Boston University certainly suggested that there was a boom to come when he arrived in the desert. A rookie season of 65 points for a go-nowhere team suggested same as well.

And then it just kind of stalled out.

Keller put up 47 points last year, and is on pace for just 51 this year. Not exactly the kind of production you’d want from someone you just handed a $7.1M per season extension that Keller got before this campaign. That’s second-line production, and if Kessel is past it and Hall bolts in the summer for greener pastures, the Coyotes will be where they’ve always been. And that’s not anywhere anyone wants to be. View sucks.

But things might not be that simple. Under the hood, Keller is having a better season than that. He’s averaging 9.7 shots per 60 at evens, almost two more than last year and nearly three more than his impressive rookie season. His individual expected-goals is up to 0.81 per 60, a full 33% over his first two seasons. Same deal with his scoring chances. So he’s getting to better areas and firing away more often, but he can’t get them to go in. He’s got the lowest shooting-percentage of his career at even-strength. He also hasn’t been able to net more than twice on the power play, thanks to the Yotes man-advantage being a bit Hawks-like.

His team-wide metrics are better than they’ve ever been as well, but again, the Yotes are shooting just 6.2% when he’ on the ice. There isn’t much you can do about that when you’re getting the right amount of chances. He’s playing with Derek Stepan and Kessel at the moment, but Stepan has always been a miscast 2-3 center and Kessel we’ve been over. He could use some help. Perhaps there’s a market correction coming that will boost the Yotes to their first playoff appearance in eight seasons. That’s the dream.

The Coyotes will never go anywhere as a team, consistently, until the produce or acquire a star. And keep them there. Sure, they could spasm one good season like 2012 that makes all old hockey men lose their mud over a team that’s “MORE THAN THE SUM OF THEIR PARTS HARF HARF HARF” but you don’t stay there like that. Check out the Predators for evidence. Keller is hardly the first one who contained promise that he would be the one to break the mold for Arizona. They’re still waiting.

Hockey

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Not likely to play tonight after getting injured Thursday, and it’s a harsh label we know. We’ve spent many a wasted moment in the past trying to figure out how to get OEL on the Hawks, though he never showed any inclination to leave Arizona. And now we have to ask, is he a “Yeah, but who gives a shit?” guy? He might be the smoothest skater in the league, and the numbers are good, but if he made such a difference wouldn’t the Coyotes have mattered in the last eight years? Maybe it’s not fair to hold him up to an Erik Karlsson level of the past, where he can drag a bunch of plumbers and rodeo clowns to a playoff spot, but the Yotes haven’t even been close. Maybe it’s all just production in the dark?

Phil Kessel – We love him, simply because he pisses of Canadians so, but he bitched his way out of Pittsburgh, who haven’t missed a beat you’ll notice, and now he’s in the desert doing exactly dick. Not even on pace for 20 goals. Yeah, he’s old, but his game was supposed to age better than this. But hey, he gets to play in a hockey outpost which is probably what he always wanted.

Arena Game Presentation – It looks like something out of 1989 in Glendale. Seriously, get a new scoreboard. You don’t need the volcanic eyesore that the United Center has, but you can do better than Chicago Stadium.

Hockey

vs.

RECORDS: Hawks 12-13-6   Coyotes 18-11-4

PUCK DROP: 8pm

TV: NBCSN Chicago

SOOOPER GENIUS: Five For Howling

The Hawks and Coyotes will do it again, just four days after they came together for an occasion that will be lost to the annals of time soon (hopefully). In the interim, they both got kicked around by Pacific Division opponents, the Hawks by the Knights and the Coyotes by the Flames.

So obviously not that much has changed since these two went to a shootout on Sunday. The one major storyline for the Hawks is what they’ll do without Calvin de Haan now as he joins Duncan Keith in the medical tent. de Haan wasn’t put on LTIR today, just normal injury reserve, so maybe it’s not the catastrophe it looked on Tuesday. Either way, he’s out for the next few.

On the surface, we know that it means. Assuming Olli Maatta has recovered from the West Nile he contracted in New Jersey, he’ll come back in, pair with Seabrook, while Gustafsson is with Murphy and the two kids are together for like nine minutes. What it should mean is pairing Adam Boqvist with Connor Murphy and see what you have. Because what do the Hawks have to lose? They’re bottom of the division, they’re one of if not the worst defensive team in the league, so let’s have some fun. Give Boqvist the best free safety you have and let him run. Yes, he had a bad turnover on Tuesday that led to a goal. It’s going to happen. He also hit a post, created two other chances, and helped set up the goal you got. Let him make mistakes, live with it, see if he gets better. We know the Erik Gustafsson road. We know the Slater Koekkoek road. We know exactly where it ends.

Other than that, it’s hard to give you reasons to get excited to watch. The forwards should stay the same, unless Matthew Highmore comes in for someone, possibly Sikura though he hasn’t done anything wrong in two games, really. And once again the Hawks will hope that the Coyotes don’t have a plan for the night, or won’t stick to it, because that’s generally the only way the Hawks win.

Luckily for the Hawks, the Yotes defense might be as big of a mess as theirs. Jason Demers joined Niklas Hjalmarsson the shelf, and they were all over the place against Calgary on Tuesday. They gave up goals to Zac Rinaldo and Milan Lucic, which in a world that was logical would lead to automatic relegation instantly. They gave up 24 shots in the first two periods, though did rally furiously for a 17-5 edge in that category in the 3rd after the Flames had checked out.

The Yotes certainly have been piling up the shots lately, with 48 against Calgary and 47 against the Hawks on Sunday. If they had finishing talent, they might have been pouring in the goals. But they don’t, so they’ve gotten two of four points and needed a shootout for those.

Same plan as Sunday. The Yotes are pretty quick up front, and gave the Hawks fits when they were diligent about forechecking and harassing the Hawks D into turnovers. When the Hawks try and freelance out of this or don’t really care about helping out, you get what you got on Tuesday or the last half of Sunday. If the Hawks are dedicated to moving the puck quickly and directly, they can create chances against a beleaguered Coyotes blue line.

If the Hawks can’t get points here, they’re staring dead straight at the season being over by Christmas. The Avs are up twice next week, as is a trip to The Peg after a home date with the Wild, who just zoomed past them in the standings. It’s very easy for all of that to go balls-up. Have to get you can while you can when you can. And more quotes from random sources that might inspire.

 

Hockey

The list is far too long, but it feels like Nick Schmaltz is the one first-rounder the Hawks chucked that no one kicks too much dust up about. His meaning is that he’s on the list, and how that list seems to be ever expanding.

Maybe it’s because Schmaltz’s big season as a Hawks was in a lost campaign. That was the year where Corey Crawford got hurt, the backups were simply awful, and the Hawks were severely up the track in the standings. So Schmaltz’s 50+ points were lost in the wash, and the most emotion anyone could kick up about it was, “Yeah, but who gives a shit?” Even having Patrick Kane take a shine to him wasn’t enough to save him.

If Schmaltz’s trade angered anyone, it was because of the billing the organization gave him before last season, which really wasn’t fair. Stan Bowman made no secret of wanting to keep cap space open for an extension, even though Schmaltz had only had one productive season for a team that went nowhere. Rumors of trades for Justin Faulk were supposedly turned down because Schmaltz was the asking price, but who knows for sure?

It was clearly the kind of pressure that Schmaltz couldn’t live under, which wasn’t a terribly good sign either. He quickly played himself out of the center and to a wing under Joel Quenneville, and he wasn’t much of a wing. Eddie Olczyk even was quick to point out battles or hits that Schmaltz bailed out of, which was the rare off-message moment for him. With Q’s job on the line, with a hope of a return to the playoffs, and his own contract to play for, Schmaltz simply shrank from the challenge.

Schmaltz’s season ended prematurely with a knee injury, but Arizona saw enough to put his mind at ease after 17 games with a seven-year extension. They seem to be getting a bang for their $5.9M bucks with 22 points in 33 games so far. We’ll see if any of them matter come springtime.

For the Hawks, Schmaltz just represents their utter failure in the draft since Stan Bowman took over. That’s putting it harshly, has he has taken a number of good players. It’s just that none of them have been able to make an impact for the Hawks themselves, except for Teuvo and perhaps Boqvist and Dach now. It’s truly horrifying to see that David Pastrnak was taken after Schmaltz.

You probably know the list now, but Stan’s first-rounders and what they’ve done for the Hawks:

Kevin Hayes never signed.

Mark McNeil never played in the NHL.

Teuvo was an important cog in the last Cup winner, and then had to be a make-weight to get rid of Bryan Bickell.

Phillip Danault looked really useful for half a season, and then was swapped for Quenneville’s fetish for Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann, both of whom he hated after five minutes.

Ryan Hartman never became Andrew Shaw.

Schmaltz became Dylan Strome.

So even in all the trades, really all the Hawks got out of their best picks was a season and a half of Teuvo and Dylan Strome. You want to know why they are where they are, and there you go. If you expand it to all of Stan’s picks who have made a serious impact, it’s just Saad and Shaw. It’s not enough.

None of that is Schmaltz’s fault. Both the Coyotes and Hawks are happy with the Schmaltz-Strome swap. Everything that you draw for Schmaltz and his time and ending with the Hawks doesn’t really have much to do with the player himself.

Hockey

The Glendale Grift – It’s hard to know what history will record as the biggest stadium swindle. You’d have to think the Marlins are the clubhouse leader, but the fact that there are so many contenders is sobering to the nth degree. Glendale might have the market on dumbest.

It’s hard to believe, after all the drama, that Gila River Arena (it’s seriously called that) is only 15 years old. Which makes the Coyotes bellyaching for a new one almost unconscionable. Or it would if we hadn’t become numb to this kind of thing. The idea that it would ever work should have been a bigger outrage, except it took place in Arizona where no one cared.

The Coyotes moved to Glendale, some 20 miles from downtown Phoenix and even farther from Scottsdale, because they get a shady deal on it. Glendale was happy to pay for it, or most of it, and no one seemed to notice that people aren’t going to travel that far to watch a team that had only been in town seven seasons and didn’t have much of a grounded fanbase. And it’s been ever thus.

Every new owner of the Coyotes, and we’ve lost count at this point, has barked about getting a new building in Phoenix or Scotttsdale, to be where people live and such. But what will happen to this white elephant when that happens? It’s fine to have a football stadium in the middle of nowhere, as Glendale was and still kind of is, because that’s only 8-10 trips a year and each one is an event. But your run of the mill hockey game on a Tuesday?

The NHL sure didn’t help, as they canceled two or three All-Star games that were supposed to be there that might have helped drum up interest or forced the team to stay at all, depending on your view. It’s all been a mess, and there’s no good answer to solve it.

Perhaps it’ll be burned down in the revolution. Or just randomly, because weird shit happens in Arizona.

Everything Else

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

The more of these recaps I do, the less I want to do them. Each game just gets more and more incredible, in a bad way. I almost feel like I, and perhaps Blackhawks Twitter/Bloggers in general, are out of things to say about this team that aren’t just the same old dead horses that have already been beaten time and time again. Shall we?

BULLETS

– For the second straight game that I have recapped (the last being the Bruins game on Thursday) the Blackhawks found themselves with a multi-goal lead after the first period despite the fact that they were the inferior team. The Hawks got dominated in attemps with a measely 42.11 CF%, and they were even worse in terms of unblocked attempts with a 39.29 FF%. They escaped with a 3-1 lead in large part due to a slightly-lucky-but-very-good play by Jonathan Toews early on, a good shot by Alex DeBrincat who got a goal in a third straight game, and a nice play by Dominik Kubalik. To their credit, they did have a 5-4 advantage in High Danger chances despite getting their clocks cleaned in possession.

– I am continually baffled by the audacity of the Blackhawks to put their penalty kill unit out so often despite the fact that it is so damn bad. They took six penalties tonight, and in the end it cost them as two of the Coyotes three goals came with the man advantage. Personally, I am shocked that the Hawks penalty kill did not hold up on a night they iced a paper mache defensive corps.

– Pairing off that last one, just to give you an idea of how impactful the Hawks penalties were tonight: The second period was played exclusive at 5v5 or with the Hawks on the PK (save for four seconds of a Hawks power play, which barely counts). At 5v5, the Hawks recorded a CF% of 68! That is incredible! But they only got to spend 13 minutes and change at 5v5, and spent the other 6-plus minutes on the PK, where they gave up two goals and allowed Glendale to tie it.

– The third period was worse than the first, which is kinda nuts. The Coyotes forward group is not very good! Their best forward is probably Nick Schmaltz, who I like and was a fan of in Chicago, but he’s not an elite talent in anyway. But the Hawks only managed a 34.48 CF% at evens in the third, and in the end they were outshot 47-29 by that group. That is just pathetic to be quite frank with you.

Erik Gustafsson being on the powerplay in overtime is insulting to my intelligence and the intlligence of my grandchildren’s grandchildren. Fuck off.

– Hawks go next on Tuesday against Vegas. Until then.