Hockey

Look, it’s difficult enough to get in any way fired up for mid-February, post-All-Star games against non-marquee opponents when a team is good, but it’s been a good goddamn long time since the West Side Hockey Club could make that claim, which makes this stretch even more of a grind than usual. About the only thing left to be determined for this season with this team is who is going to get the privilege of being shipped elsewhere in the coming weeks, and even that can’t really happen until a new general manager is hired in THAT protracted process. Throw in the fact that these are makeup games to begin with and the weather is shitty, and it’s not exactly a recipe for scintillating hockey. The fact that the Hawks’ roommates are now on their all star break certainly helps ease some of the scheduling conflicts that the Covid postponements could have caused, but that’s still put a very quick 3 games in 4 nights on the table for the Hawks, starting this evening.

2/17 – vs Columbus

Game Time – 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Justin Fields. That’s It.  – The Cannon

At long last, Amy’s Oldest gets his “reunion” against his old Q-pilled brothers in arms in Columbus, having missed the first encounter at Nationwide as a last minute Covid scratch. Whether or not any of that matters between these two go nowhere teams is up for debate, but at least there might be slightly more juice to this one at least to start. Arvid Soderblom gets the start tonight out of necessity given the back-to-back, and it will be the first non-Fleury start since he returned from the Covid list after the Holiday Break/Pause. Soderblom predictably looked like a deer in headlights having to spell Colin Delia in his first ever NHL appearance, but settled down a bit the following night against Calgary, where he made 37 saves on 41 shots, getting done no favors by the team of front of them. Coincidentally, the Jackets are arriving in town having most recently caught a beat down in Calgary with their new acquisition Tyler Toffoli, but had won 5 of their last 6 games, the loss being the Panthers hanging 8 on them. This Jackets group isn’t any damn good and has really no finishers other than Patrik Laine when he’s interested, but there’s enough of a floor here to beat bum ass teams, and a getting a rookie goalie in his second ever start would seem to fit that bill.

2/18 – vs Dallas

Game Time – 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Southfork Ranch – Defending Big D

So with Ben Bishop finally calling it a career after something like 14 backiotomies, the Stars now only have to split time between the three somewhat useful goalies they have in net in Braden Holtby, Anton Khudobin, and Jake Oettinger, though Khudobin has been buried in the minors for some time. Between Holtby and Oettinger, both have nearly identical save percentages at 5v5 (.923 and .922 respectively), which is a nice rebound for Holtby after his disastrous turn in Vancouver. Neither of them are signed past this season, so that leaves Hall of Famer Jim Nill with some decisions to make. The obvious choice is to cash in on Holtby at the deadline for a team looking to solidify their crease situation into the spring and then plan on giving Oettinger the full workload next year. But the conundrum lies in the fact that the Stars are only a point out from the last wild card spot, and have games in hand on the Kings and Ducks ahead of them, as well as the Preds whom they’re 3 points behind. It’s difficult to see this Stars team as presently constituted as on track for anything but an ass waxing in the first round against the Avs, Knights, or possibly even the Flames, but this group is living proof that goofy shit happens in the playoffs. It’s just not necessarily wise to bank on it.

2/20 – vs Florida

Game Time – 2:00PM CST
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, SportsNet 1, WGN-AM 720
Cruisin’ Like A Fanboat On The Glade – Litter Box Cats

The Panthers are very good. They are second in the league in points behind only the Avalanche, and they just beat the Canes in their own building last night. And Sasha Barkov did this devilry. There may be a hope that the Cats get into the city on Saturday night and hit it hard prior to the matinee and the fact that the Hawks are pretty bad, and if the Hawks stay disciplined in limiting chances they might be able to keep it close. But those are very big ifs and a wholly incongruous matchup where the Panthers shouldn’t ever have to get out of 2nd gear.

Hockey

Box Scores: Game 42 Game 43
Event Summary: Game 42 Game 43
Natural Stat Trick: Game 42 Game 43

Though the game on the ice was ultimately incidental to what was going on off of it for both teams as far as any of the near, mid and long term outlook is concerned, the Hawks managed to take both games from a Jackets team that could very well be appointment implosion television to close out the season. With the Preds winning on OT against the Stars last night and the Hawks OT winner tonight, the Hawks are two points out and 2 regulation wins still back of the Preds with a three game series coming up next week that’s likely to put a bow on this season. But they did what they needed to do and got contributions from kids, which is all that anyone here has been looking for this season.

Hockey

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Game Times: 6:00PM (4/10, 4/12)
TV/Radio, NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network, WGN-AM 720
Bro-Hio: The Cannon

In this weird, plague afflicted, abbreviated intradivision only season, this will mark the conculsion of the truly monumental eight game series between the Hawks and Blue Jackets, and the first series that the Hawks will conclude. And as both teams apparently half assedly approach the deadline, they’re both not trying to trip over their own dicks too intentionally.

Hockey

Box Scores: Game 20 | Game 21
Game Logs:
Game 20 | Game 21
Natural Stat Trick:
Game 20 | Game 21

The first game of this series was filled with lots of offensive FUN (ignore that Kane was in on 80% of the goals and Laine was in on the other 80% for his team) and the slog of a second game was a snooze-a-palooza where both teams decided they were going to bore us all with lots of DEFENSE, CHECKING, and PHYSICAL PLAY that makes up one of those good ol’ fashioned hockey games. Let’s take our 4 points, end this series and get to the bullets.

  • First of all, let’s give a round of applause to everybody’s adopted son Brandon Hagel for finally getting his first goal. It was a beauty and an important one in Tuesday’s game.
  • It’s mighty unfortunate the dam broke for Laine and co. during Tuesday night’s game, and it’s also mighty unfortunate that twice in this game the Blackhawks “defense” just decided to leave Laine alone and uncovered to do what he pleases. Will our defense ever stop doing this to dangerous opponents? Probably not.
  • Taking penalties nearly killed this team. The Blackhawks were unable to stay out of the box and it meant that the Blue Jackets were able to score two powerplay goals in the 2nd and another in the 3rd. Although the Hawks were able to open up the scoring with Carl Soderberg on the powerplay, penalties are not something this defensively-pious team should be taking, even if the Ogie Oglethorpes on the other team are making you mad.
  • Speaking of penalties, Adam Boqvist took two bad ones this series. Last night’s penalty didn’t lead to a Blue Jackets goal, but Tuesday’s penalty allowed the Jackets back into the game to tie it up. Do better, please.
  • Subban was actually pretty solid last night, gaining his second career shutout, but holy Toledo does he need to learn how to freeze a puck. Whatever he’s been working on with Jimmy Waite, please stop doing it and work on this very important aspect of being a goaltender, thank you.
  • Nikita Zadorov getting outmuscled and stripped of the puck by a Blue Jacket last night after the Blackhawks media has been saying he’s supposed to be the one outmuscling others and that’s the greatness he brings to this team…I just can’t help but laugh (again) at this situation. Luckily, Subban was able to make a spectacular stop on the play to keep the game tied.
  • Patrick Kane had a hand in 4 of the 5 goals on Tuesday night. He scored the GWG last night. He has 31 points, and he’s had a hand in 18.6% all of the scoring the Blackhawks have this season. To put that in perspective, red-hot Auston Matthews has only been in on 15% of his team’s total points. For God’s sake, even Connor McDavid himself, playing on one of the worst teams in the league when he’s not on the ice, is at 18.5% of his team’s total points. Believe it or not, the Blackhawks might somehow make the playoffs this season, and if they do it will largely be because of Kane and he should seriously be considered as a Hart Trophy candidate, if not winner, this season. It’s just how it is.

The Blackhawks will next face the incredibly bad Red Wings this weekend. Then, like Pat Foley announced on the broadcast, the Blackhawks will be going on a “MURDEROUS ROW” over the next couple of weeks as they face Tampa Bay, Florida, and Dallas way too many times. What could possibly go wrong?

Hockey

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Game Times: 6:00PM (2/23, 2/25)
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
The Horseshoe: The Cannon

As this abbreviated intra-divisional schedule lumbers towards its halfway point, the repetitive nature its structure is now starting to take its icy grip on things, even as Chicago itself finally thaws out only slightly, with the Hawks now playing their third series of the month against the Jackets, and their first in Columbus.

Hockey

Box Scores: Game 15 | Game 16
Game Logs: Game 15 | Game 16
Natural Stat Trick: Game 15 | Game 16

 

Fresh off two OT wins in Dallas that was leading some in the hockey cognoscenti to declare the Hawks AHEAD OF SCHDULE, and FUN, the team got to return home to face the ongoing extravaganza of comedic mediocrity that is the Columbus Blue Jackets. It’s been scenarios like this where Coach Jeremy Boylen’s teams have began to flirt with competence that they immediately shit all over themselves, so in this two game series, maybe it’s a step in the right direction that they only kind of did. Or it could just be a case of two bad teams smashing into one another for two straight games; it could be that too. But at least the Hawks were able to end the back half of the series in an entertaining manner on Saturday night, all usual caveats about 3 on 3 being a complete joke still applying.

Hockey

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Game Times: 7:00PM (2/11 & 2/13)
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
It’s Anti-Italian Discrimination: The Cannon

Picking up from last week’s episode of The Columbus Blue Jackets’ 2021 Cavalcade of Numbskullery, Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Tortorella and his charges return to West Madison for the second time in three weekends, and are somehow even more hilarious than when these two teams last met up.

Hockey

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Game Times: 7:00PM (1/29), 6:00PM (1/31)
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago (Both), NHL Network, TVA-S, SportsNet (1/29), WGN-AM 720
Ohio Tpke: The Cannon

For about 48 hours last week, Columbus became the center of the hockey universe with The Saga of Pierre-Luc Dubois coming to a head and promptly ending with him being dealt per his request. And once again tonight they’ll be the focal point of the league as their tilt on West Madison with the Hawks is the only game on the NHL docket on a Friday night. Great scheduling from the league once again.

Everything Else

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Game Time: 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Urban Meyer Is A Sociopath: The Cannon

With the NBA All-Star festivities taking place, the Hawks will get a rare premium Saturday night home game in the mid-winter. They’ll welcome the Columbus Blue Jackets to West Madison, who are threatening to be wildly entertaining over the next few days, though not for on ice-reasons.