I’m as tired of writing about 4th-line glorified quadruple-A guys as you are of reading about them. Let’s just get through it:

2018-19 Stats (with Senators)

70 GP – 9 G – 19 A – 28 Pts.

44.6 CF% (-0.8 CF% Rel) – 41.3 oZS%

45.2 xGF% (-2.24xGF% Rel)

Avg. TOI: 16:21

A Brief History: You may remember a guy by the name of Artem Anisimov, who was really not good at anything over the last couple seasons. He was no longer Annette Frontpresence—overrated as she always was anyway—he was slow, which is really saying something on this team, his puck handling was laughable, it goes on. He was a 4C making over $4 million a year, which was downright stupid as well as unsustainable. So StanBo finally got rid of him and his contract, but because we were giving away trash, we could only get trash in return.

Enter Zack Smith, lifelong member of the Ottawa Senators, and not only that, a guy that this joke of a team put on waivers before last season and had to take back when there was no better offer. I imagine Smith kinda like George Costanza after he quits—quietly slipping back in and trying to pretend like nothing happened, like it was a joke. Although this is the Senators we’re talking about, so do not take this humiliation to be entirely Smith’s fault—they were also just being douchebags. His paltry production made him a scapegoat, but he was a scapegoat nonetheless for a team with so many, many other problems.

Anyway, at $3.25 million a year he’s still a grossly overpaid 4th, or at best 3rd, line-guy, but thanks to Anisimov’s signing bonus and other financial chicanery that goes into professional sports contracts, both teams end up saving money on this deal, which is really the only thing that matters to these obscenely wealthy shithead dinosaurs in the end.

It Was the Best of Times: The best-case scenario is that Smith isn’t a trainwreck. He fills up time and space so that better players can get a breather, while he and his fellow fourth-liners take dungeon shifts and maybe flip the ice. Or, perhaps Smith can be packaged up with a better layer as part of a trade later in the season, as the plethora of cheaper fourth-liners makes him truly unnecessary. Just do no harm and that would be sufficient.

It Was the BLURST of Times: I’d like to say the worst situation would be for Smith to see serious playing time, because that means the Hawks have no one better than a washed-up former Senator. And while it’s true that such an outcome would be bad, the real worst-case scenario would be if Smith is totally useless. They’re spending over $3 million, which means they probably won’t be able to unload his shitty contract. I know, there’s lots of morons out there, but we just pulled one on Ottawa to get the mild cap-situation improvement we’re now discussing, plus we dumped Manning on the Oilers, so the truly abject morons who would be willing to take this guy might be onto us at this point. At the very least, pawning him off is not something we can count on. And apparently he’s got a back injury right now, which is never a non-issue even if it’s technically something minor. That shit just gets worse. Maybe I’m overly frugal, but wasting that money entirely and not even getting 10 minutes a night from this oaf would be the most lamentable outcome.

Prediction: Zack Smith will manage to both suck and blow, yet the Hawks won’t be able to get rid of him nor will they be willing to eat the shit sandwich that their prior decisions left them with and play a younger prospect in his place. Neither success now nor helping the next generation is what we’ll get, unless he’s hurt for a significant portion of time, in which case we at least won’t have to watch him. We can just watch that cap space go up in flames instead.

Stats from Hockey Reference and Natural Stat Trick

Previous Previews

Robin Lehner

Corey Crawford

Adam Boqvist

Carl Dahlstrom

Calvin de Haan

Erik Gustafsson

Duncan Keith

Slater Koekkoek

Olli Maatta

Connor Murphy

Drake Caggiula

Ryan Carpenter

Alex DeBrincat

David Kampf

Patrick Kane

Alex Nylander

Brendan Perlini

Brandon Saad





It probably should have happened a year ago, if ever at all, and you knew it was coming for sure as soon as the Hawks drafted Kirby Dach. The Hawks needed cap space, they needed a space for another center either this year or next, so off Artem Anisimov had to go. And today he did to Ottawa, for Zack Smith. The headline of the deal is that the Hawks will save $1.3M in space over the next two years. I’ll forgive you if you don’t vomit with joy.

On the surface to the uninitiated, it will look a little strange. After all, Anisimov managed 20 goals in three of his four seasons here, and was in between Kane and Panarin when they were setting off all sort of fireworks together for two seasons. To the dedicated observer though, Anismov’s numbers were something of a mirage. He was a plug-plus at best who could barely move and had decent hands around the net. His goals and points were accumulated through the Nuno Gomes method, which is where you let far more talented players ping pucks/balls off of you into the net and you get to take the credit. In a league that’s only getting faster, Anismov’s place became more and more precarious, and he was hardly cut out to be a bottom-six winger as he was at times last season.

Anisimov’s extension will be another cudgel to beat Stan Bowman whenever he is fired or leaves, though those in the know will tell you orders came down from on high on that one to appease the angry masses about the first Brandon Saad trade. Whatever, it’s over now.

Of course, this being the new Hawks ethos, they got a plug in return. They’ve been chasing Zack Smith for years, with rumors of them calling the Senators about him stretching back to at least 2013. He’s got that precious size, except he doesn’t do much with it anymore and he isn’t very quick either. Smith has only managed 20 goals in the league once, where he shot 20%. The past two years he’s pretty much been between a third- and fourth-line contributor, and while listed as a center I have to believe at his age they see him as a wing now. Otherwise you’ve basically made a lateral move for a fraction of cap space now and next year.

Metrically, Smith hasn’t been of any use in a couple years, though he was getting dungeon-shifted by the Sens last year and you might imagine that’s the plan here whether he ends up skating with Kampf or Carpenter or both. Or maybe the Hawks are planning to move him along as well to open up even more cap space. We’ll see.

Smith can certainly act as more of a checking center than Arty ever could, though that would give you 2.5-3 checking centers in Kampf, Smith, and Carpenter. So you’re depth chart looks something like:





Let’s just say there are options on the bottom-six, and that’s even without the longshot of Dach making the team. Again, it’s not that likely that Smith is at center these days, so the most likely solution is Kampf and Carpenter taking the last two center spots, with an outside shot of Caggiula taking some fourth center time (they wanted to try it last year, or so they said).

So there you go, the Anisimov Experience is over. The first Brandon Saad trade now has netted you…well, nothing.  A couple of 20-goal seasons that stood for bupkus. Great work all around.



The Hawks have been conspicuously quiet for the past few days, despite the facts that their blue line still sucks to high heaven and they never really filled the open spot in the top six (and if you think Andrew Shaw is that, please mail me whichever substances you’re using). So, the official signing of Kirby Dach is what we’ll hold onto for now, since he ought to be a top-six solution someday.

Dach signed a three-year entry-level deal ($925,000 per) today. The signing doesn’t mean too much new, other than the Hawks can now get their hands directly in the dirt of molding him into the Center of the Future™. Of course, Dach gave platitudes about how he wants to make the team out of camp and make management make tough decisions, which is something they’ve never been particularly good at (see Teravainen, Teuvo; Seabrook, Brent post-2015 Cup; Jokiharju, Henri), so tread lightly, Kirby.

As usual, the Hawks will have nine free games to look at Dach before he burns a year off his contract, if they choose. And unless he’s a complete mess throughout camp and the preseason, we’re hoping that the Hawks will play him over the first nine games. Remember that after the season opener against the Flyera in Czech Republic, eight of the nine games they play are at home, which is about as easy a landing as you can imagine getting, provided Beto O’Colliton plays the matchups (something he hasn’t proven to us just yet).

If he does turn out to be a mess, or if/when we start hearing about how versatile Artem Anisimov is on a wing and boy oh boy are we excited for THAT justification, Dach will go back to the WHL because of a weird rule wherein if you’re under 20 and not American, you can’t play in the AHL until either your junior season ends or you turn 20. Based on some of the signings/trades so far (Shaw, Carpenter, Kampf), you have to imagine Dach will need to blow it out of the water to even sniff the nine-game threshold, let alone playing beyond that.

We’re all sitting and hoping the see Dach in the first nine games of the season, but we aren’t holding our breath for it. The Hawks have played around the fringes the last couple of years, so it’ll be surprising if they stray from that conservativeness with Dach. If you see Artem Anisimov in another sweater before camp, things’ll get a little bit more interesting, but until then, it’s hard to see how Dach carves out any spot on the team this year, even if he does look good in camp.

They’ve got contracts and experience to play, after all.

Everything Else

I bury the lede too much, so let’s start with the Hawks signing Ryan Carpenter for three years at a million each. It’s a little weird to sign a fourth-liner for three years, but at a million apiece it makes no difference.

Still, I find it funny that the Hawks tell you they need a center to win draws in the defensive zone, they sign a center, and then everyone’s like, “Here’s a center that can win draws in the defensive zone,” without bothering to actually check if that’s true. Carpenter started nearly 60% of his shifts in the offensive zone last year. And yes, he won 53% of his draws, but that’s the only season he has at significantly above break-even. Which would matter more if faceoffs mattered as much as dumbass GMs think they do, which they don’t.

“He’ll help with the kill.” I mean, he’ll be out there, but he was the Knights’ worst PKer aside from Paul Stastny all season. Which means he’ll fit right in here, I suppose.

There’s also this narrative that the Hawks need to take defensive pressure off Toews, which Kampf can’t do alone. Except you’re no more than a year from having Strome and Dach on the roster, who are going to need to be way more sheltered than Toews, so he’s taking defensive draws then anyway. And from what we can tell, this year isn’t all that important.

Whatever. Depth signing. The Hawks also inked Kampf for two years for nothing, which is far more important. Kampf actually starts in his own zone and actually turns the play the other way, which seems to be a truly undervalued skill. That’s good.

Which means right now the Hawks have Toews-Strome-Kampf-Carpenter-Anisimov down the middle, which is too many and let’s allow for the slight possibility that the #3 overall pick makes the decision even tougher. So either they’re playing Anisimov as a bottom-six winger, or he’s going. And he needs to be going, because it opens up cap space for…well, too late for that but still, he probably should be going. 19-17-64-whatever Carpenter is down the middle isn’t poetry-worthy, but one gets the foreboding sense nothing about this team will be anyway.

Good seats still available!

Everything Else

It’s a morsel, but it’s something. Today, the Hawks announced the signing of Anton Wedin, which we’d already talked about before a few weeks ago. Wedin is something of a scratcher lottery ticket, as players who pop off for the first time at 26 and not gaudy numbers are hardly a sure thing to ever escape the AHL. But he costs nothing, the Hawks get a one-year look-see, and then they can decide if they want to continue this relationship.

There’s also been buzz that the Hawks have officially signed Dominik Kubalik, who is currently lighting up the World Championships for the Czech team, along with old friend Michael Frolik. Kubalik is the far more enticing and surer bet than Wedin. He’s 23, and though he kicked a hole in a lesser European league, that hole was really big in Switzerland. He has some experience on this side of the ocean, playing in juniors with one Dominik Kahun, and having two Dominiks with last names beginning with K surely won’t kill Pat Foley or anything.

The Hawks still have some work to do, as Perlini and Kampf haven’t been re-signed yet, though you’d expect the latter is no problem and the former is not someone the Hawks are going to give up on quite yet. And you start doing then numbers, and you begin to wonder here.

Kubalik is going to be a Hawk. It would be an upset if he spends anytime in Rockford, just as Kahun made an immediate splash. And while we generally would snicker that this is the Hawks trying to prop up one of their prospects again (John Hayden come on down…now keep going…no don’t stop…), their European finds generally have been useful. So let’s map it out, and pencil in Wedin for a 4th line role to start. He can be this year’s Suckbag Johnson in October.


Top Cat-Strome-Saad



No, this isn’t what Opening Night will look like, and if it does I highly suggest you find something else to do for the winter than bother with this. We have to, you don’t. This is just what it looks like right now, and that’s not even mentioning Sikura, Kurashev who is a possibility to come aboard, MacKenzie Entwistle being an outside shot, and I guess I still have mention Hayden here as he’s still signed for one more year (if he plays more than 10 games with the Hawks though I’m going to shove my whole fist down my throat).

What you see is a fair number of young, fast, nippy wingers (other than Entwistle), all of who are unknowns, all something of a lottery ticket, but the more you have and try the more chance that one or two will work. Sikura really should be in the NHL full-time next year, despite never scoring showed flashes of being a useful player. Kurashev flashed at the WJC, though I doubt the Hawks would be ready to try him at center just yet. So there’s something of a little jam.

Now you know what are stated aims are here. Flog Anisimov for whatever you can just as long as he’s gone, move Caggiula to your fourth-line center, sign an actual top six forward, and let’s dance. And maybe that is the plan, because you don’t feel like the Hawks are going to carry all of this into training camp. Though stranger things have happened.

While the Hawks talk about their cap space, it’s not that simple. No one who is currently a free agent is going to break them, as you wouldn’t think Perlini, Sikura, and Kampf are going to lop off more than what, $3M off? That’s $17M to play with.

But it’s the following summer that’s an issue. Let’s assume the cap takes another $4M jump as it did this one, and that’s a cap of $87M. The Hawks currently have $49M committed for 2020-2021, which is $28M in space. With whatever deals that above-mentioned trio sign, let’s call it $25M.

And more than a third of that, without any signings this summer, is going to be eaten up by Alex DeBrincat‘s next contract. Ain’t gonna be no bridge for him, and if he puts up another 35-40 goals, he’s going to point at Mitch Marner‘s deal and say, “THAT!” Certainly William Nylander‘s $6.9M number would merely be a jumping off point. And if Top Cat brings Strome right along with him during the season, that’s another $6-7M for Strome, and suddenly that $25M in space is now somewhere around $10M if you’re lucky. And then you have to wonder what Kahun and Caggiula get if they have good years. It won’t come close to eating up that $10M, but suddenly the space this summer to sign free agents looks a little tight when thinking about the next.

So yeah, punting Anisimov saves you $4.5M for two more years, and maybe that’s enough. The fear around this lab is that the Hawks might have a bigger number in savings in mind. You know where this is going.

You know how we feel about Brandon Saad. You can read Pullega’s review for a refresher. But you can make the argument. It’s $6M in savings. And you have to admit that Saad is something of an odd fit right now, though one who made it work for most of the season, including a dominating stretch from the middle to the spring. The Hawks are loathe to load him up with Toews and Kane, which you can understand. But Saad’s never taken to, or really been tried all that much, on the right side to play with Top Cat and Strome. Pairing him with Toews leaves the right side open, but you don’t really want to play DeBrincat there as he’s a bigger scoring threat on the left. The idea of Saad and Kane flanking Strome was tried, but then DeBrincat is playing with Toews and they need something on the right side that the Hawks don’t really have unless one of these kids pops. Saad made serious mileage out of a third line role, but the question the Hawks might be asking themselves is, “Could Kahun or Kubalik or Kurashev or all three do just as much there at a fraction of the cost?” Alternatively, could they try a combo of those kids in the top six and hope one or two of them can at least ride shotgun.

Saad’s value is clearly higher than Anisimov’s. While he has his faults, he’s still a nimble forward with size who gets you 20-25 goals and solid possession play. It’s not like those grow on trees. And considering how the defenseman market is Erik Karlsson and whatever state his bursting red crotch dots are in and then a whole bunch of trash, you could understand the hesitance (if you don’t necessarily agree with it, which we don’t).  So a trade might be necessary.

I don’t know what the names would be. Carolina was interested last year, but their different status might change that. We were asked about The Island yesterday on the podcast, with Leddy returning, which would be hilarious and also wrong. Saad’s always seemed like a perfect Predator, but he won’t be dealt in the division. There would be a market though.

I don’t want it, but you can see it.

Everything Else

It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when we’re still talking about Artem Anisimov and it’s not “wow they finally traded him,” or “what a relief, he spontaneously combusted and got sucked into a hole in the space-time continuum.” No such luck though, so let’s just get this over with:

78 GP – 15 G – 22 A – 37 P

48.1 CF% – 43.6 xGF% [5v5]

It Comes With a Free Frogurt!

Look, let’s just be honest—Anisimov isn’t very good. I’m going to make an attempt to be positive in this section of the review because technically I have to, but come on, I’m also not going to insult your intelligence (this time). Anisimov had more points this past season than the 2017-18 season. There, I said something positive!

The Frogurt is Also Cursed

OK, so maybe I’m being a little harsh, but honestly I am just fed up with slow, aging, overpriced clods on this team. And while Brent Seabrook can at least point to the fact that he’s a Hawks legend and supposedly is such a great LEADER IN THE LOCKEROOM as they keep yelling at us, Anisimov can’t say anything even close to that. We have a 2C in Dylan Strome. He may not be the most fleet of foot you’ve ever seen, but he’s a hell of a lot faster than Anisimov. Strome and Alex DeBrincat proved themselves this year—saddling Top Cat with Anisimov borders on criminal negligence at this point.

When Anisimov centered Kane—and this went on for a depressing 485 minutes last season—Arty was consistently a step (or five) behind. Kane would be setting up in the offensive zone and Anisimov would still be well behind in the neutral zone. With Brandon Saad and Dominik Kahun, they were at least above water in possession (56.6 CF% 5v5), but this was on the third line and not for significant minutes. We also have a better third-line center in David Kampf, who is defensively solid, younger and cheaper. Besides, Anisimov isn’t an energy line or checking line guy—he’s too slow, I guess dragging around that unwieldy, wide dick of his.

Even if a third- or fourth-line slot worked with whatever jamokes they could gather, or even if they put Anisimov on the wing as we had scorched onto our retinas at times, this is still paying 4.55 million a year to a bottom-six guy. That’s just insane. None of this is new or the first time you’ve heard this, but it doesn’t get any better as time goes on. In fact, Wide Dick becomes more and more of an albatross with every passing month. And no, I don’t know who they could pawn him off to since, back to the previous point about him becoming an increasingly large issue (SEE WHAT I DID THERE), the older and slower that he gets, the more sweeteners would need to be thrown into any deal to get a team to take him. That would likely mean multiple defensive prospects or who knows what else. It very well might be too steep of a price.

Can I Go Now?

Once upon a time, Anisimov was useful on the power play by just parking himself in front of the net for redirects and rebounds. This year he had all of one power play goal, and a measly three assists. If the Hawks really want a big body who can play that role, you can’t tell me that Victor Ejdsell is any worse than Anisimov. And he sure as shit won’t cost over 4 mildo a year for the next two seasons. But whatever, if the Hawks are lucky they’ll find a moron GM who’s willing to take only a couple prospects along with ‘ole Wide Dick; if they’re not lucky they may have to stomach playing the most expensive 4C in the league.

Previous Player Reviews

Corey Crawford

Cam Ward

Collin Delia

Duncan Keith

Connor Murphy

Henri Jokiharju

Gustav Forsling

Erik Gustafsson

Carl Dahlstrom

Brendan Perlini

Alex DeBrincat

Chris Kunitz

Everything Else

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Money Puck

THE BEST PART WAS WHEN THE BUILDINGS FELL DOWN. Until late in the third, this one had all the appeal of an open-air autopsy in Miami-Dade in July. But with both of these teams out of the running, there was always a chance this would turn into a shootout, and it did, literally and figuratively. In a game whose highlight was the Sharp–Burish Eagleman parody, it’s nice for the outcome not to be in vain. Unless you’re rooting for a tank, in which case, I can’t help you. To the bullets!

Brendan Perlini had himself a game tonight. Playing alongside DeBrincat and Strome will do that sometimes, but he really took advantage. In just under 11 minutes, he scratched a 58+ CF% and scored the game-tying goal. His 18.67 CF% Rel led all Hawks forwards on the night, and frankly, it wouldn’t have been upsetting to see him get a little bit more time tonight. He’s probably not much more than a 2019 version Kris Versteeg (1.0 or 2.0 is still TBD), but that can be fun sometimes. I liked that Colliton slotted him there tonight.

– Because we can’t have nice things, a nice performance from Perlini on the second line was balanced by John Hayden appearing on the first line because Colliton’s genious brain is a muscle that needs to be flexed, apparently. He might be a nice guy, and he’s got a degree from Yale—which will no doubt be helpful for when he commits securities fraud after he retires, or whatever it is rich prep boys do in their free time—but he’s not a hockey player for this generation. In just over six minutes, he had a 4 CF against an 11 CA, good for a team-worst 26.67 CF%. The next worst was Patrick Kane, but he also does things like score goals and create assists. Unless you can find someone who either actually commits to GRITHEARTFAAAAAAART or reads Ayn Rand unironically, it’s time to cut bait. He’s just not very good.

– If the Hawks had managed not to play jump rope with their own dicks and win this in regulation, this would have been the ARTEM ANISIMOV GAME. His first goal came on a breakaway (lol) off two excellent tic-tac-toe passes from Kane and Kahun, and the second was sheer power from our widest dicked forward. If he wants to keep Refrigerator Perrying his way into goals, that’d be fine.

– Murphy and Dahlstrom were nails tonight. They dominated the Eichel line to the tune of a 64+and 66+ CF%, respectively. Murphy almost contributed on the score sheet too, with a nice kick to the stick wrister off a Kunitz pass. Connor Murphy probably tops out as a 2A guy on a good team, but when given 1A matchups tonight, be performed admirably.

– Crow was a little urpy tonight. You’d think that he had that first goal caught in his glove, but his fumble, compounded with Seabrook’s Cubist positioning and the delayed penalty, gave Vladimir Fucking Sobotka free rein near the crease. He also totally lost his net on the shorthanded goal unnecessarily. Still, he managed to keep the Hawks within shouting distance, even if that meant taking a hard Sheary wrister right off the mush late in the first. Poor guy can’t catch a break. These games don’t matter much, but seeing how Crow finishes out the year is something to watch. He’s obviously shaking off some rust, but if he can finish strong, it’ll be something to hang onto going into the offseason.

– When Erik Gustafsson is scoring, you can put up with his treasonous dereliction of duty in the defensive zone. When he’s not, it’s worse than watching your mother fuck your bully. He was putrid tonight at all times, falling asleep in coverage on Okposo’s goal being the most obvious. In a perfect world, you pair him with something that looks like a better version of Dahlstrom and let him bum slay, especially if he’s just not going to learn how to play defense. But if he’s not scoring, he’s not worth even the modest salary he’s making now. Something to watch going forward, now that the Hawks don’t have much to play for.

– With each passing day, buying out Seabrook’s contract looks like the only solution to that problem, which is a fucking shame in the grand scheme. He was mostly responsible for Montour’s goal, as he wandered out to the near boards to cover Smith despite Montour and Pominville streaking through the middle of the zone. If he sags back, which is really all he can do anymore anyway, it’s at worst a 2-on-2, with Seabrook covering Montour and Keith covering Pominville, leaving Smith at the point and preventing Montour from taking all that space.

– The power play looked like complete shit. The last thing Coach Cool Youth Pastor needs is for the one thing that he can point to as making better taking a huge dump on him toward the end of the year. It’s only one game, but they looked terribly out of sorts.

– Top Cat had a couple of excellent chances that he just missed on. The most disappointing miss came off Kane’s rebound on the PP, which looked like a guarantee coming off his stick. Instead, the puck rung around the boards to Rodrigues, who blew away a half-assing Kane and led to Bogosian’s highlight reel goal. Shit happens.

Duncan Keith had a pretty good game. His goal was good, aggressive awareness. His possession numbers were a refurbished marital aid, which is concerning because he didn’t match up with the Eichel line too much. But he wasn’t a complete tire fire. Baby steps.

– Garbage Dick hopped over Larmer for fourth in Hawks history with 924 points on his assist on Keith’s goal. Creep can roll.

If you’re a Brendan Perlini or Artem Anisimov fan, you had a really fun time tonight. And for as stupid as 3-on-3 OT and the shootout are, they’re mindless fun. Which is exactly the kind of fun we need with this team.

Onward . . .

Booze du Jour: High Life and Maker’s 46

Line of the Night: Each team has had the lead in the game! Who’s gonna win it? –Foley

Everything Else

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Money Puck

The last four minutes were a speedball that saw the four best players the Hawks have decide, “Enough of this bullshit.” But everything up to that point was a one-too-many-Vicodin full-body dry heave. The Ducks have won just five games in the last 10 weeks, and it took divine intervention for the Hawks to come away with two points. The Hawks looked like horseshit for 56 minutes, but because the Ducks are the living embodiment of a botched C-section, they got away with it. Let’s try to tidy this up.

Corey Crawford is back, and he looked mostly good behind a blue line dead set on putting him back in the dark room. Twenty-nine saves on 32 shots in his first game back is something you’ll take, especially since, save for one bad play, he looked pretty good throughout. That one mistake was egregious, as he misplayed the puck behind the net, allowing Derek Grant (who?) to make a blind between-the-legs pass to Troy Terry (WHO?), who had a wide-open net to shoot on. Still, Crawford looked confident and spry, and he kept the Hawks in it despite their best efforts to throw it away. Plus he had an assist on Artie’s shorty.

– This might have been the worst game Duncan Keith has played since before the lockout. He was constantly out of position, and it was no more evident than on Anaheim’s second goal. With Seabrook covering Rowney on the near boards (which is questionable in itself), Keith—for no good reason—meandered into the same area. Rowney outmaneuvered Seabrook, causing a turnover on the boards. While the puck was loose, Ritchie laid a clean check on Seabrook, giving Rowney room to leak out Seabrook’s backside. Rather than sagging back down in front of the net where he should have been in the first place, Keith weakly stuck his stick into the Seabrook–Ritchie scrum, leaving both Rowney down low and Kessler up top plenty of room to embarrass him. You can blame Crawford for being overzealous on the poke check attempt, but you would be wrong. Keith’s miserable positioning left Rowney all alone for a slick redirect.

Things only got worse in the third. Keith got walked by Troy Terry, leading to a good chance that Seabrook had to break up with a slide. He had an awful clearing attempt, under very little pressure, that led to another great scoring chance for the Ducks. He was fortunate that Crow was up to the task, because if the Ducks weren’t a team that couldn’t successfully piss in the ocean, we could have been looking at a 5–2 final.

– Though Keith looked exceptionally bad, no one on the defense looked good at all. Dahlstrom and Murphy both had a CF% above 56, but it never really looked like that. Everyone was everywhere except where they were supposed to be, which makes Colliton’s claim that “These seven defensemen give us the best chance to win” even more maddening. Harju won’t solve everything, but after the last three games, and especially tonight, anyone who tells you Harju wouldn’t be a top-4 D-man on this team is a fucking cop.

Artem Anisimov was noticeable tonight. On his shorthanded goal, he managed to outskate Cam Fowler, which should result in mandatory retirement for Fowler. He led all Hawks on the possession ledger (besides John Hayden, who had a better share but with fewer than 10 minutes played), because fuck all of us.

– Top Cat is a treasure. His power play snipe was a clinic. He took a pass from Gus between the blue line and top of the far-side circle. He took his time moving into the far-side circle, because the Ducks blow and didn’t even try to cover him, and picked his spot high stick side. His second goal was him being in the right place for a Toews pass, which he’s shown a penchant for since forever.

– Toews’s pass to Top Cat was special. He curled around from behind the net and threaded the puck between HAMPUS! HAMPUS! and Josh “Don’t Call Me Charlie” Manson. There are few people who can dominate the area behind the net like Toews.

– Perhaps the only Hawk better than Toews on and behind the goal line is Saad, when he wants to be. He’s been doing that thing where he puts his shoulder down, walks the goal line, and tries to stuff the puck in more often recently, and I’d like to subscribe to that newsletter. And of course, his pantsing of HAMPUS! HAMPUS! on Kane’s game-winning goal is the kind of stuff that made us all think he could be Hossa Jr. He’s having a nice year, and until the last four minutes, looked like the only Hawk who wasn’t exploring the vast reaches of space on the third hour of a boomers binge.

– Garbage Dick is at 40 goals and 94 points. He ought to hit 50 and 100. That would be just fine.

– Caggiula left the game with a concussion. Hopefully, he gets better fast.

The win was nice, as were the last four minutes. But this might have been the worst game the Hawks have played since the Old Man died. It was a sloppy sluice of slippery shit, even if the outcome was good (ALL PROCESS, NO PLAN). The defensive scheme is a zoo without cages, and the Hawks have proven that they can’t outscore those woes against real teams. Enjoy the comeback, but this isn’t sustainable. This is a shitty team that just has a few Hall of Famers on it, so they’ll tread water for a little while. But tonight reinforces the refrain we’ve been singing all year: Whether in free agency or by trade, the Hawks need real defensemen to supplement Murphy and Harju next year. Anything less is malfeasance.

Onward . . .

Booze du Jour: Tin Cup & High Life

Line of the Night: “Fans might get impatient with him, but Seabrook is underpaid for all the things he brings to the dressing room.” –Patrick Kane, future NHL GM, according to whichever bozo was doing the national broadcast

Everything Else

All stats from,, and

Since going 10-2-0 in the last 12, there’s been more swagger and flexing about the Hawks’s playoff prospects. If the Hawks win tonight against the Avs and Sunday against the Stars—two of four teams directly above them in the wild card race—they can more firmly entrench themselves in a wild card spot. If nothing else, this run has been fun.

But as we’ve talked about ad nauseum, none of the numbers flesh out a team that you would think should even be sniffing the playoffs. Their current-22 goal differential would be the worst among playoff teams by far, and it’s an improvement over what it was earlier. Since December 18, which is when the power play first started taking off, the Hawks have had a +13 goal differential, which is pretty good. Prior to that, it was -35. In four of their last five, they’ve allowed at least four goals, including four to Detroit and seven (fucking seven) to Ottawa.

Even if you only look at the stats beginning around the time when everything started getting hot (December 18; 16-7-3 since then), shit isn’t pretty.

  • They’re second worst in 5v5 CF% since that time, ahead of only New Jersey.
  • Their high-danger CF% of 39.70 is deadass last in the league, behind even the woeful Kings (42.36) and Ducks (43.97).
  • Their scoring chances for percentage (SCF%) is worst in the league at 43.33.
  • Their shots on goal for percentage (SF%) is second worst in the league at 46.31, ahead of only the Edmonton Oilers, who are less a hockey team and more a Big Brothers of America for adults that Connor McDavid is not allowed to opt out of.
  • In that time, Delia and Ward have posted a .920 SV% between the two of them at 5v5, which is excellent albeit unsustainable (given the horrid shot totals), and .908 overall, which is fine.

These are just a few of the stats that indicate that the Hawks should be a lottery team rather than in the thick of a playoff run.

So why the fuck is there a whisper from none other than Elliotte Friedman that the Hawks could go after Artemi Panarin as a rental?

At the top, let’s be clear: Friedman himself admits that that would make absolutely no sense whatsoever and it’s just what he heard. Anyone who’s watched this team since the middle of December can tell you that the Hawks aren’t hurting for offense. Since December 18, the Hawks have the best PP% by far and the second-most total goals (105 vs. the Sharks’s 111). They’ll have three 30-goal scorers (maybe four if Saad keeps his pace up) and likely two 40-goal scorers in Top Cat and Garbage Dick. If anything has worked, it’s been the offense.

This infatuation with Artemi Panarin, especially as the deadline approaches, is the most asinine thing I’ve seen since Stan Bowman signed Brandon Manning to a 2-year, $2.25 million per deal last summer.

Generally speaking, I get the desire. Panarin was awesome while he was with the Hawks. He was fun on the ice and in 2015–16 helped launch the Hawks to the best PP% they’ve ever had since The Core conglomerated. He’s currently on pace for 80–85 points, which would make an already dangerous Top 6 for the Hawks even more deadly. As Sam has said (and I’m starting to admit myself), the Hawks lost that Panarin–Saad trade, even if Saad is still good. But what can Panarin do for them on offense right now that Alex DeBrincat isn’t already doing? I get that you can never have enough scorers, but at what cost?

Assume Columbus is willing to send Panarin to Chicago for the right package. What does that look like? You have to figure DeBrincat is absolutely in there. They’ll likely want top-end prospects, like Strome, Boqvist, Beaudin, Harju, and (not or) Barratt. Maybe you can convince them to swap Boqvist or Harju for Gustafsson; the specifics aren’t terribly important. What is relevant is that if you want Panarin at the deadline, there’s no way you’re getting him and keeping DeBrincat and at least two of your top prospects.

That would be moving backward or, at best, standing still, because DeBrincat has been close to if not better than Panarin at scoring this year. DeBrincat has more goals than Panarin, both total (33 vs. 24) and on the power play (10 vs. 6), with just five more games played. He has more power play points total than Panarin (21 vs. 14). Panarin bests him in assists (43 vs. 28) and total points (67 vs. 61). Although Panarin’s possession numbers are pristine, if you think those would carry over in Chicago, then I’m the wallet inspector.

Panarin would be a fantastic piece on a team that isn’t allowing 35+ shots per game. As fun as this run is, it’s exceedingly unlikely that the Hawks can outscore their defensive woes against teams with real goaltenders and defensive schemes, as we’ve seen in the losses against Columbus and Boston. And that’s all Panarin would really provide: a hope that he can outscore the mistakes the blue line constantly makes. Are you willing to bet DeBrincat plus prospects, picks, and probably more on a run that, in any other year, would have the Hawks out of a playoff spot by 10 points or more? I’m not. This playoff run is fun, but you don’t go chasing Panarin for it, especially not for the price he’d likely command in top-line talent and prospects.

Once this Russian Roulette playoff farce ends, we’ll have all the time in the world to talk about signing Panarin as a free agent. I’ll preface those discussions with a hardline “No, thank you,” at least until the Hawks have exhausted all options at a top-4 D-man, whether that’s through a signing (EK65), a trade (Dougie, Hampus), or miracle development from Boqvist and Beaudin.

This team is still closer to bad than good, and Panarin doesn’t move the needle enough, especially not now. They need a top-4 D-man or two. They either need Delia to step back up, Crawford to step back in, or continue to get a .920+ from Ward. None of those things involve Panarin. So, ride this out with what you’ve got, try to trade guys like Artie and Hayden, and if the NHL’s blob of mediocrity pushes the Hawks above it all and into the playoffs like the overripe zit they are, that’s gravy.

The confidence is fun. The swagger is fun. This whole run is fun. But it’s all in the context of how awful October, November, and most of December were. When you look at the difference between then and now, it’s easy to mistake a cock ring for a 36-inch chain.

Everything Else

Box Score


Natural Stat Trick

The Hawks get pantsed in the nerd stats but come away with a shootout win on the backs of the power play and Cam Ward. Just like we all predicted. To the bullets!

– Cam Ward had a mostly good game tonight. He let in his embarrassingly soft goal early but looked like an NHL-caliber goalie for the rest of the game. You’d be hard pressed to blame him for Barzal’s breakaway goal, given how obscenely good he is. You’d be forgiven for assuming he’d have his ass stuffed and mounted in the shootout—which continues to be both the dumbest and most exciting way to end a game around—but he did what he was supposed to do. And 33 saves on 35 shots, 15 of which were the high-danger variety, is a strong performance. The Fels Motherfuck is consistent and indiscriminate.

– The Islanders’s first goal was one of the strangest I’ve seen in a while. In the moment, it was like watching that big fucking fish eat you World 3 in Mario Bros. 3: It was slow and shouldn’t have happened, and yet. While Jokiharju took the initial blame for it, the whole fucking play was bananas. Just look:

This is a set play gone wrong. Anisimov wins the draw and Hayden starts to break out. The idea is for Jokiharju to retrieve the puck and pass it out to Hayden if possible, with Gustafsson as a release value. But Anisimov doesn’t win the puck cleanly, as it knocks off his left skate, slowing the puck down. Flippula then overpowers Anisimov, who manages to fail at getting in Filppula’s way. Watch Anisimov lean into Filppula in a way that allows Flippula to get around him. Anisimov’s only job after winning the faceoff is to keep Flippula away from the puck, and he doesn’t. With one fucking hand, Filppula gets around Artie, throws Harju off track, then stickhandles around Anisimov to backhand a soft goal.

Ward should have had it, but the main culprit on this play was Anisimov, not Harju. Harju was a bit slow on the uptake, but if Artie keeps Filppula off the puck and doesn’t get manhandled by a guy with one hand on his stick, none of that happens.

– The power play has scored in nine straight games, including two tonight. On the first, Kane magicked his way from the mid to high slot, feeding Strome on the goal line. Strome then did that thing that Toews used to do four years ago, crashing from the goal line and stuffing a shot past that standup-save chud Robin Lehner.

Kane didn’t get a point on the second PP goal, but he set that one up too. He hit Strome with a pass just below the goal line. Strome then belched it out to a waiting DeBrincat, who settled down the not-so-great pass, went backhand–forehand, and gave Toews a shot to bat the rebound out of mid-air.

– The Saad–Kampf–Kruger line was nails in possession tonight, with a respective 66.67, 61.54, and 57.69. Although I had stupid, stupid dreams about Saad scoring 90 this year (because I am stupid, you see), if Saad is going to carve out a strong 2nd/3rd wing spot, I won’t be terribly upset. Kampf is interesting, given his speed, defensive ability, and seemingly utter lack of scoring touch. He’s likely a faster version of Kruger 1.0, which is nice to have.

– On the other end, Keith–Seabrook looked putrid tonight. Each sported a 35+ CF% and CF% Rels of -17.87. Colliton can talk all day about how he wants to rotate younger guys to keep them from burning out or whatever other horseshit he wants to shovel to protect the apparently fragile egos of Keith and Seabrook. But until he scratches one or both of them after games like this, it’s going to be hard to take him seriously. I get that it’s not something he wants to broach, but be the fucking coach. If they’re going to suck together, break them up or give them less time. If they’re just going to suck regardless, fucking scratch them. It might be them who’s getting burned out.

Erik Gustafsson was a snuff film in his own end. He had at least three unforced turnovers. But you know what? As long as he keeps putting up points and QB’ing the most dangerous power play in the league since mid-December, I do not give a fuck at all.

– Outside of the turnover that led to Barzal’s breakaway, which was admittedly bad, our Large Irish Son looked good tonight. He was much better away from Koekkoek, as I assume most defensemen are, but even dragging Koekkoek around, Murphy posted a 56+ CF%, best among Hawks defensemen by far. I’ll never understand people who says he sucks. I get being mad that Hjalmarsson is gone, but that doesn’t make Murphy shitty.

Drake Caggiula isn’t a first liner, but Toews and Kane sure make him look like one. You can sort of see how he kinda fits as a fast puck retriever, and he looked especially good for a sequence in the first. But a lot of that is just the residue of Toews’s Renaissance and Kane’s Hart-worthy otherworldliness.

Not a bad way to go into the break here. We’re going to post a whole bunch of stuff that looks like the result of a boomers-and-blow binge during the bye, so we’ll see you there.

Booze du Jour: Makers 46 & High Life

Line of the Night: “Pat, listen up because this is right up your alley: The Hawks are hosting a margarita night.” –Konroyd