So we have our last full week of Hawks hockey before we see what shiny new GM Kyle Davidson has in store for the roster with the 3/21 NHL trade deadline looming. In between now and then, the Hawks have a much stiffer (heh) challenge with 2 of their next 3 games coming against legitimate playoff teams in the Bruins and Minnesota Wild. It’s also a Stupid Schedule Week™ with the Hawks at home tonight, then nothing until a 1:00 start in Minnehaha on Saturday, then they fly back here to take on the Peg. I get the NHL schedulers have had their work cut out for them with COVID blowing everything up and the players not going to the Olympics, but damn that’s a shitty set of game times.


3/15 vs. Boston

Game Time: 7:30 PM CST

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

Those Apples Fucking Suck: Stanley Cup of Chowder


Less than a week after losing a heartbreaker to the Bruins out in Beantown, the Hawks get their chance at revenge tonight at the UC. Not a whole lot has changed since Summer hit up the preview from last week other than the B’s finishing off their homestand with a 3-2 win against the moribund Coyotes of South Glendale over the weekend. The offense continues to run through that Dunkin Donuts guy, as Pastrnak keeps piling up the points (including the game winning dagger against the Hawks last week). Taylor Hall and Patrice Bergeron are also here, along with the diseased penis Brad Marchand, who I’m sure will do something completely infuriating at some point during the game. Odds are Jake Swayman gets the nod again with him taking the bulk of the starts recently with Bruce Cassidy riding the current hot hand.

With our Large Irish Son Connor Murphy likely confined to the dark room for the foreseeable future while in concussion protocol, the Hawks D will be even more hard pressed than usual to keep Boston setting things up behind the net as they are wont to do. Keeping out of the box will be key, as with Murph out there isn’t really anyone on the PK who can clear the crease like he does. Could be ugly.


3/19 At Minnesota

Game Time: 1:00 PM CST

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

First Round Failures: Hockey Wilderness


It pains me greatly to concede the fact that the Minnesota Wild are better than the Blackhawks right now, and most likely will continue to be for the next few years at least. They have a very solid mix of interesting veterans and exciting young players. This was made possible after shedding the dead weight that was the contracts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. The biggest name among the exciting young players would be Kirill Kaprisov, who may very well be the heir apparent to Alex Ovechkin (assuming he ever actually, ya know, retires), as one of the best pure scorers to hit the scene in a very long time. The Wild recently signed him to a 5 year, $45 million extension after what seemed like an impasse that could’ve sent him back to Russia. They’ve also added Old Friend Ryan Hartman, who has now harnessed all the potential we saw during his time with the Hawks.

The back end is populated by a lot of familiar names as the Wild attempted to shore up what was a solid group of Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon by adding Alex Goligoski and Dimirti Kulikov. The results have been middling thus far, as the Wild have a tendency (much like Vegas, who they’ve now modeled themselves after) to give up a boatload of shots. With only Cam Talbot behind them to stop the onslaught, the Wild basically need to just play balls to the wall offense to keep opponents out of their zone. That’s not usually a very solid playoff strategy, which is ok because it’s a team from Minnesota, and they never get out of the first round anyways.


3/20 vs Winnipeg

Game Time: 7:00 PM CST

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

Everybody Freeze (Arnold voice): Arctic Ice Hockey


Last and most certainly least of these 3 is the Winnipeg Jets. While they’ve been on a mini heater over the last week or so, beating the Blues and Lightning by a decent margin, they’re still just 5-4-2 since they last lost to the Hawks in the middle of February. As we all know, playing .500 hockey down the stretch in Gary Bettman’s NHL does not a playoff team make. They’re only 4 points back of Vegas with a game in hand of the final wild card spot, which might actually be worst case scenario for them. With the team needing quite a bit to take the next step, their best course of action would probably be to sell at the deadline like the Hawks. Being only 4 out might make them hesitate to do that, and even worse for them would be to push their chips in like their GM was Stan Bowman. Even if they DO sneak into the playoffs, they face a total ass-waxing at the hands of Calgary or Colorado, both of whom are light years ahead of the Jets. Personally I hope they DO go all in, which would put them on the same trajectory as the Hawks now sit. Misery loves company.



In what was a very entertaining 3 games for the Hawks this week, they took 4 of a possible 6 points available to them, and if it weren’t for a very unlucky bounce and some shitty officiating in Boston it very easily could’ve been at least 5. Alas, when you’re at the level the Hawks are it always seems that the puck bounces the other way and it’s in you net. Such is life and hockey.

In other news, thoughts for a speedy recovery for our Large Irish Son after he was boarded by Parker Kelly early in the 1st period on Saturday night. Murph went down in a heap and appeared to be out cold when his face hit the ice. The hit itself, while not great, wasn’t particularly preadatory and appeared to be just bad luck with the way his head contacted the boards. You never wanna see the stretcher come out for anyone, and at this point you just hope Murph is ok. Apparently he traveled back with the team, so that is at least some small measure of good news.

Anyways, here’s the shakedown:


Tuesday 3/8

Ducks 3 – Hawks 8

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick


Poor John Gibson. All he had to do is look at the Hawks giveaway calendar to know he was fucked from the jump, as it was Shitty Green Hat Giveaway Night at the UC, which automatically means a hat trick for at least one Hawk skater. Tonight was no different, as Dylan Strome continued to be scorchingly hot with the puck, netting his 2nd career hat trick while Patrick Kane continued is inevitable rise to the top of the Hawks all-time scoring list with 6 points.

Tuesday night marked the 2nd game in a row where Gibson had given up 5 goals, and has now allowed 20 goals in his last 5 games. He actually seemed like he might survive the night after only Strome scored when the Hawks jumped right into the Ducks shit off the bat. Barely 5 minutes into the period and the Hawks already had 9 shots. The dam eventually broke, and before the period was over it was a 5-0 for the Blackhawks and Gibson’s night was done.

His backup didn’t fare much better, as Brandon Hagel scored on the first shot of the 2nd period 16 seconds in. After that, the Ducks tried climbing back into the game as the Hawks suddenly couldn’t stay out of the penalty box. They cut the lead to 6-3 before Strome fired home his second of the night to put the kibosh on that comeback. He added one more in the trailing minutes of the 3rd to complete the hatty, and down came the Shitty Irish Jig hats. While it’s always cool to see that, it’ll never come close to Hard Hat Giveaway night and the chaos that ensued after Towes’ hat trick.


Thursday 3/10

Hawks 3 – Bruins 4

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick


This one was a bummer, as the Hawks played more than well enough to come away from this game with at least a point. Yet a shitty icing call and terrible bounce in the Hawks zone with :18 left on the clock and they come away with a big ole zip in the points column. Yet that’s what happens when you have two different teams with vastly different skill levels meeting in a mid-march game. The Bruins, comfortably ensconced in the Eastern wild card spot 16 points ahead of the Jackets, seemed to be doing just enough to keep themselves in the game while the Hawks were throwing everything they had at Boston. In a scenario like that all it takes is one bad bounce and it’s all over.

On the plus side, Alex DeBrincat continues to tear holes in space and time all over the ice while Brandon Hagel hit 20 goals for the first time in his career. Hagel appears to be doing everything to make sure that the Hawks ask for the absolute moon for his services at the deadline, and I’m starting to come around to that way of thinking. If Hagel truly is the diamond in the rough some think him to be, then maybe it really isn’t insane to ask for a 1st rounder and a top prospect in return for him. While nobody on the Hawks roster should be considered untouchable (everybody’s got a price!), the ask in return continues to climb with every goal. Good on him.


Saturday 3/12

Hawks 6 – Senators 3

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick


If you take out the terrifying image (which, admittedly is very hard to do) of Connor Murphy being stretchered off the ice, this game was actually pretty entertaining in a way that only a game between two bottom feeding teams can be. Once the Hawks got over the shock of seeing their teammate being wheeled across the ice strapped to a back board, things picked up in a way that gave the Sens defense windburn.

Falling behind 2-0 to this overturned clown car of an NHL franchise seemed to wake something in Jonathan Toews that we haven’t seen since the bubble series against Vegas back in 2020. He was all over the ice, scoring the first two goals for the Hawks, and even launching himself stupidly into a fight with Zach Sanford after a questionable hit on Kirby Dach. While I never want to see a guy with a history of multiple concussions and a laundry list of current medical issues leaping face first into a fight with the dregs of the Eastern Conference, it was nice to see a fire in Toews’ eyes.

Also if I haven’t hammered this point home enough of how bad Ottawa is, if Caleb Jones scores two goals against your team…you fucking suck. More of note is that Jones the Younger now has tied his brother in goals on the season despite playing waaaay less minutes. While quite a bit of Seth’s goal drought can be tied directly to puck luck, you still can’t have your highest paid D-man being outscored by his League Minimum younger brother.

Patrick Kane passed Bobby Hull’s Tony LaRussa-looking ass for 2nd place on the Hawks all time leading scorer list with 3 assists tonight, giving him 10 in his last 3 games. The dude is on a tear right now, which bodes well for the entertainment level for the rest of the games this March.




The Doom and Gloom Show stops for nothing, and especially not for the schedules of the fair Faxes from Uncle Dale writers as the Hawks just took the ice against the Ducks, once again winning thanks to specifically and only the Kane/Strome/Cat line.

The rest of Twitter awaits to see who on this team will be dealt away and installed on future playoff teams as depth players. It is apparently not going to be Marc-Andre Fleury, unless it’s Marc-Andre Fleury. I’m not sure why he’d want to stay here, but God bless him for mulling it over, even if it’s just so he doesn’t have to be away from his family for 2-3 months. And just imagine what hell this team will be to watch without Flower being singlehandedly responsible for 70% of the Hawks’ wins this season. It’ll be a true tire fire then, but at last we’ll have recouped our first-round draft pick!!!

In other news, Kirby Dach is officially a Franchise Winger, to the amusement of us all. When Toews’s career is over this team will be in faceoff hell, which is all the more reason why Kirby should be watching faceoffs get taken by the Hall of Fame center that the organization pushed him to be “the next” of. At this point, Derek King just wants to see Kirby produce and try to salvage as much of his botched development as possible. It’s still so tiresome.

3/8 vs. Anaheim

Game Time: 7:30PM CT
TV / Radio:
Let me welcome everybody to the wild, wild west:
Anaheim Calling

After the season-high eight-game win streak that made the Ducks the talk of the town in November, the team has slid down to just about league-average, now five points out of the final Wild Card spot with and a plethora of teams they need to jump over to make a playoff appearance this year possible. And although it was the younger stars making all the highlight reels earlier in the season with Trevor Zegras’s highlight-reel goal Troy Terry’s hot start, the Ducks are now depending on their veteran presence to barely keep them hanging on in the playoff race.

Adam Henrique is at a point-per-game pace on the first line for the past 7 games—that’s gotta mean something right? So is Rickard Rakell, again over the past 7 games. (Seriously, don’t look back much further than that.) Even Ryan Getzlaf, despite being sidelined for the last Ducks game due to injury, is currently at a .65 point-per-game clip, his highest point-per-game number since 2019.

Speaking of grizzled vets, John Gibson’s numbers have seen improvement over the past two seasons. The unfortunate part of it all is that the improvement we see is a .910 save percentage, though that still means giving up only four goals in the last four games (the four goals we’ve scored so far tonight don’t count). The team itself has a sixth-worst goals against above expected in the entire league in 5-on-5, behind only truly pitiful teams like the Coyotes, Devils, Kraken, and yes, the Hawks.

3/10 @ Boston

Game Time: 6:00 PM CT
Jackass Forever Named After Brad Marchand:
Cup of Chowder

The Bruins find themselves pretty snugly in a playoff spot, albeit the Wild Card, as this organization continues to Frankenstein themselves to the playoffs by adding players at the trade deadline to try to make a run at things. Where things stand now, however, that means they’ll find themselves in a first-round playoff matchup against either the Lightning, Panthers or Hurricanes, and they’ll likely get shellacked no matter which team they get.

Over the weekend the Bruins nearly blew it against the Blue Jackets, which would’ve been top-tier entertainment as Jeremy Swayman gave up the tying goal with 2 seconds left in the game. Thanks entirely to the shootout heroics of David Pastrnak, the Bruins walked away with two points. Yesterday the Bruins had a more even matchup against the Kings and this time walked away as the loser point losers. This game was yet another example of the Bruins blowing their lead in the dying seconds of the game, which isn’t something they should make a trend with the playoffs down the stretch. Perhaps they can sacrifice Brad Marchand to the league in order to make playoff games be 59 minutes instead of 60. Just a thought.

3/12 @ Ottawa

Game Time: 6:00 PM CT
TV/Radio: NBCSCH, WGN 720
I AM the Senate:
Silver Seven Sens

Ah, the Senators. One of only a few teams in this league that suck more than the Hawks do, and in the most hilarious fashion. They are currently on a five-game losing streak which included a Saturday night marquee matchup loss against the Coyotes. And the Senators are also no strangers to blowing games late, although the Senators community cried foul over their loss to the Golden Knights thanks to sketchy a tripping penalty on Thomas Chabot.

Senators starting goaltender Matt Murray wasn’t playing Sunday, by the way, and it may or may not be because he was crashed into by his own guy during the game the night before. (I don’t think Sens fans missed Murray much anyway considering he hasn’t won a game in over a month.) The net was therefore turned over to Anton Forsberg, who was in goal for the last FOUR Senators wins and is currently putting up the best numbers of his career. Like Fleury, the greatest gift that Forsberg could give Senators fans right now is some prospects at the trade deadline, though deciding whether a team should be giving up any significant assets for Anton Forsberg is luckily not what my job hinges on.


In a way, the Hawks should be glad they managed to get even one point tonight, after being dominated by the Bruins for much of the game. But it feels wrong because it’s a waste of yet another stellar goaltending performance, and they were so close to winning and yet had a goal called back for a spurious hand pass. I’m not going to sit here and blame the refs—the blame falls squarely on the Hawks for not being better than their opponent—but this ones leaves a bitter taste. Let’s get through it:

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–The Hawks got totally outplayed, but the very least we can say is that they were genuinely trying—they’re just not as good as Boston. This game was not like last night’s against the Wild where they just couldn’t be bothered to give a shit for the first two-thirds of the game. They definitely gave a shit, but the best they could do was just hold the Bruins off. In the first two periods, the Hawks managed just a 31 and 38 CF%, respectively. They were outshot 16-5 in the first and ended the night outshot 40 to 22 (they’ve got to stop with these 40-shot games). Coach Gemstone did them no favors early on by having the galaxy brain idea of starting our fourth line, including the illustrious talents of Alex Nylander, against what is basically the best line in hockey, in Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak. That went exactly how you think it would, and Robin Lehner was racking up saves basically from the opening whistle. This dumb mismatch led to the logical fallacy of tripping-diving on Nylander and Pastrnak late in the third, but the NHL have never been ones for consistent or sane thinking (how can it be a penalty if it’s also a dive?! THIS CAN’T BE). Neither is Colliton when it comes to matchups, apparently. Nylander-Carpenter-Smith barfed up a 20 CF% at evens, and he kept throwing them out there despite their blatant inability to keep up with the Bruins’ top line.

–Relatedly, Lehner was outstanding and showed no rust coming off a long break. Granted, he let in a softie to Kuraly, but you can’t even be mad about that when it’s compared with the 1,827 highlight reel saves he made throughout the rest of the game. A penalty kill in the first period was a particularly indigestion-inducing sequence when he made what seemed like impossible leaps across the crease. Krejci had a flurry of chances and was visibly frustrated by Lehner stopping them repeatedly. His east-west movement all night was outstanding, and it had to be for the Hawks to even have a chance. The OT goal was a heartbreaker where Dach, who otherwise had a good game, just got beat and there was nothing Lehner could do. I’m sure he’s salty about this one, but he has every right to be.

–Something very concerning was Adam Boqvist ‘s shoulder injury. He got boarded by David Krejci in the second and immediately skated off with his arm limp, and while he hasn’t been the most solid of players lately, the last damn thing this team needs is to lose a defenseman who can technically move the puck and is definitively fast. This would also be the second functional defenseman taken out by a shoulder injury (third if you count Seabrook but that’s another story). The only silver lining was that Alex DeBrincat finally scored a goal on the ensuing power play, but file that under “pyrrhic victory.” The Hawks picked up that random oaf from Minnesota but neither he nor Dennis Gilbert are going to help them get into the playoffs, whereas Boqvist will. Here’s hoping it’s not severe and he doesn’t miss the entire Western Canada trip, because if they don’t make up ground there, it will no longer matter if he’s able to come back before the end of this season.

–To return to Kirby Dach, he had another strong game yet couldn’t come through at the very end. He did continue his scoring streak, however, with an assist on Top Cat’s goal, where he (Dach) was cool, calm and collected in the crease which generated the rebound that popped out to DeBrincat for the goal. He had 3 shots and generally passed the eye test, despite his line as a whole struggling in the fancy stats (19.2 CF%, -27.8 CF Rel, -38.3 SF%, woof). I do not pretend to make any grand pronouncements about Dach right now, but he again showed what he can do, and what he needs to work on.

–Did Maatta have a hand pass late in the third? After getting taken down and on a delayed penalty, he definitely moved the puck with his hand, but it appeared in super-slow-motion to have ricocheted off his stick just barely, from where it made its way to Drake Caggiula who scored what would have been the winning goal. Again, a heartbreaker to lose out on something that close, and maybe the puck really didn’t graze Maatta’s stick and it’s a fair call, but that doesn’t really help or make it feel less frustrating.

So they got two points in two days, and are (I believe) two points out of the second wild card (that’s a lot of twos in that sentence). If they have any hopes of eking into that last spot, now is the time, and they better hope their young defenseman isn’t out for the season. Onward and upward.




RECORDS: Bruins 32-10-12   Hawks 25-21-7




After stealing a point last night by only playing for the third period, the Hawks will have the degree of difficulty seriously upped on them tonight to get three of four points, or even two. The Boston Bruins stroll in, also having played last night, and having won their last four to the tune of 15-4 aggregate. So yeah, this isn’t the Wild.

We wrote this about the Bruins when the Hawks were there in December:

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

Yeah, about that.

Thanks to the Lightning finally gaining consciousness and a serious case of, “What the fuck is going on here?”, the Bruins are only up five points on them and have played a game more. So that lead-pipe-cinch of a division crown isn’t so lead-pipe-cinch anymore. So what happened?

Well part of it is an ungodly number of losses after 60 minutes. The Bruins have 12 overall, with only Detroit and Ottawa the only other ones even in double-digits. Flip half of those the other way, which easily could have happened because it’s a lottery, and not only are the Bruins running away with the Atlantic but the entire NHL as well. The Bruins have lost seven games in OT or a shootout in just the past two months. And even still, the Bruins have gone 12-7-6 since the last meeting with the Hawks, which is more than acceptable. It’s not their fault the Lightning have gone 29-1 or whatever.

Overall, the story hasn’t changed that much for the Bs. They’re a decent-to-good metric team. They don’t create as many chances or attempts as the other teams in the top ten, but they bury more of them because they have Pastrnak, Marchand, Bergeron, and Krejci. And they’ve become very tight defensively this season, as they’re the best team in terms of xGA/60 and fifth best in attempts-against. Throw in remarkable special teams (top three in both) and great goaltending, and you see where they raft of OT/SO losses belie what this team actually is. The +44 goal difference, best in the league, is a much better indicator of what this team is.

It’s easy to dismiss the Bruins as just one line, and they do have arguably the best line in hockey still. But that is somewhat unjust to David Krejci, though he basically only gets offensive-zone starts now. Charlie Coyle has been of use as well, but this team is a touch short on the wings behind Marchand and Pastrnak, and probably DeBrusk. McAvoy and Chara are pretty much mine-sweepers now, and they’ve been very good at it, with Grzelcyk and Krug doing most of the pushing and creative work against lesser competition. Carlo rounds out a pretty solid if unspectacular blue line.

Tuke Nuk’em and Jaro Halak might be the best duo in the crease in the league, with bother over .920 and Rask in the Vezina discussion. Before the deadline, they’ll be looking for wingers, but this is a serious contender once again.

Which makes the Hawks’ task that much harder Given their position, they can’t just write off too many games as luxury items. Especially after not getting both points last night. Whom Colliton wants to match up with Bergeron and Co. will be the main watch tonight. It’s not something he’s shown a talent for, and really the only candidate is Kubalik-Toews-Caggiula. Maybe reuniting Kampf and Carpenter somewhere would be another, but don’t count on it. As good as the Bruins are, stopping their top line from putting up three or four goals is still the main task. And staying out of the box.

The Hawks sprung a surprise on the Bruins at The Garden, but once the Bruins actually started paying attention the world collapsed around the Hawks’ ears. Toews saved them in OT. Maybe on the road and the second of a back-to-back will keep the Bruins fro totally focusing. That’s the main hope. The Hawks season will hinge on the following road trip. But it would be nice to have points here in the bag before it.



In our Hedley Lamarr segment today, we proposed that come the summer, whenever the season ends for the Bs (after beating the Leafs in the 1st round of course) it’ll be up to the organization to tell Zdeno Chara it’s time to go. Hell, if the Hawks can do it to Brent Seabrook, right? Because the numbers aren’t kind to Chara so far this season. And we’ll come back around to this.

The argument went that Chara was exposed in the playoffs last year, as tends to happen to 41-year-olds who are playing NHL hockey for seven and eight months. The Corsi and xG%s were the lowest of his career in the postseason last year, and the past two postseasons has seen him be on the ice for more attempts, chances, and expected goals against than ever before. He’s played every game this year, so it’s hard to see how the Bruins are going to keep him fresh for another run through April and May.

That seemingly has carried over into this year, where again, Chara’s metrics are the worst of his career. And he appears to be dragging down Charlie McAvoy as well, who is supposed to be the Bs main puck-mover. McAvoy hasn’t scored this year, and his possession-numbers are also the worst of his career. And both of their metrics are off while spending most of their time behind Pastrnak, Marchand, and Bergeron. That’s not good.

But dig a little deeper, and you get to where the hockey-analytic movement has a gap. McAvoy and Chara are starting the least amount of shifts in the offensive zone than they ever have. Chara is starting just 34.5% of his shifts in the offensive zone, and nowhere else in his career has that ever been below 42%. And usually in his time in Boston, he’s been around 50% there. If you go by starts, which includes more than just faceoffs, it’s just 33%. That’s never been below 41% in his career. He and McAvoy are something of defensive stoppers now.

So how do you judge sinking possession numbers when they’re starting their shifts in different areas now? That they have to go the full length of the rink to generate attempts and chances instead of just halfway or less? That their opponents are starting much closer to the Bruins net than they did before with Chara on the ice? There’s isn’t a slide for that yet. There’s isn’t a ballpark adjustment. There’s isn’t a wRC+.

And at the end of the day, Chara is on the ice for 1.9 GA/60 at even strength, which is the lowest mark since 2013-2014. They still decide who wins by who scores more, or who scores less. The Bruins get amazing goaltending from either Rask or Halak, so that’s part of it. Chara is on the ice for more attempts against than he has been in years, but his xGA is the lowest it’s been in four seasons. So even with those dungeon starts, he and McAvoy have limited chances better than they have before. Maybe it’s not time to call time on Chara yet.

You can see where if the Bruins win the Cup, Chara can ride off into the sunset, as the only Bs captain to raise the Cup twice since Orr. He’s already the only one to do it once since Orr anyway. The Bs aren’t really that capped out, with $19M in space now and only Krug, Grzelcyk, and Debrusk as probably-should-keeps, and Krug is debatable at that level. Halak is FA as well, but you can find a #2 netminder lots of places.

Chara and the Bs will know the answer by how he plays in the playoffs. If a team scars him like the Blues did last June, then we’ll know it’s time to go. And if no one does and he wants to play some more, maybe it’s not that clear of a refusal.



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


TV: NBCSN Chicago

FRUSTRATED WOMEN: Stanley Cup Of Chowder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


These are the kinds of posts we like, even if it’s about the Bruins. Or Bruin, in this case. Because goals are fun. It’s the name of the game, after all. And lots of goals are lots of fun. Which means David Pastrnak is having the most fun of anyone, causing the most fun for others, and might do so at a rate never seen before. His linemate Brad Marchand might be a total fraud, but Pastrnak is the real deal, folks.

At the moment, Pastrnak has 25 goals in 28 games. After tonight’s 29th game for Boston against the Hawks, he should have at least 32. We’re kidding. We hope. Anyway, 25 goals in 28 games puts him on track for 73 goals this year, which would obviously be ridiculous. Only two players in the past twenty years have managed 60 goals. Alex Ovechkin’s 65 in ’07-’08 and Steven Stamkos’s 60 in ’11-’12. Ovechkin’s year is considered the greatest goal-scoring year by anyone ever when you adjust for the time or era of the NHL. And Ovie is the only one to get past 50 in the past five seasons aside from Leon Draisaitl’s 50 last season. Clearly, Pastrnak has a chance to do something we just haven’t seen and didn’t think we would.

Scoring is up a tick from last year so far, but the gap from 3.03 to 3.01 per team per game is small enough that it could be washed away as things tighten up over the season, as they tend to do. Pastrnak at this point is averaging 0.89 goals per game, or about 29% of his team’s goals per game. When Ovechkin put up 65, that was 0.79 goals per game while the average goals per team then was just 2.78 per game. Still, that totaled only 28.5% of his team’s goals per game, so if you go by that, Pastrnak is on a pace never seen.

For comparison’s sake, when Gretzky scored 92 goals (that actually happened and you really need to take a moment to think about it) in ’81-’82, teams were averaging 4.01 goals per game. So his per game average still only accounted for 28.6% of his team’s goals per game. So Pastrnak is ahead of that. By this measure, admittedly not exactly all that scientific, Brett Hull’s 86 in ’90-’91 is better, coming in at 30.3%. And Pastrnak isn’t too far off that pace, though he’s unlikely to get much past where he is already.

So the question would be can Pastrnak keep this up? The 22.5% shooting-percentage is awfully ambitious, and eight points above his career average. His SH% has climbed the past three seasons, but that was at a steady-rate, not at this six-point jump from last year to this. So he can easily stay above his 14.5% career-rate, but staying over having one-fifth of his shots go in is probably pushing it.

It’s probably even less likely when you get metric with it (it’s like getting giggy with it, we think). Pasta is generating the exact same individual expected-goals as he did last year, which suggests he’s getting the same amount and types of chances. However, he’s firing three more attempts per game at the net at evens, and as we know the more you fling rubber somewhere toward the net the more chances you get for something to go right. He is averaging one more shot on goal per game as well, and if you go by strictly scoring-chances (a little different than expected goals) he’s getting three more per game than last year, which is a massive jump. So maybe?

Pastrnak’s work on the power play has remained steady from last year and the past few, so any jump is probably going to have to come at evens. By the scoring chances, it is.

There are some factors out of his control. You would think if Patrice Bergeron were out an extended period of time, that would hurt his chances. Except that in his first game without Bergeron this year he lit up the Canadiens for a hat trick, and has tacked on two more goals in the four games since. Small samples and all that. He could get hurt himself.

Still, you get into this sort of thing to see things you hadn’t seen before, and Pastrnak taking a run at 70 goals would certainly qualify. There’s probably a cold snap coming, so we might as well enjoy the heat now. He’s going to light up the Hawks either way, so you decide how to interpret it for yourself.


Brad Marchand – As always. And really, these days we’ve thrown our hands up at his antics, because he can’t help himself. He’s going to score enough for everyone to find a way to justify it, so whatever. But it’s his el foldo against the Blues last spring that we’ll never forgive him for. He says he’ll never get over losing Game 7 at home. We won’t either, asshole. Maybe if you’d reported for duty you wouldn’t have this heartbreak to worry about. Or would you rather just go for a change when things get hard?

The Bias Against Tuukka Rask – Tuke Nuke’em is the leading candidate for the Vezina right now. And yet you’ll find plenty in the Boston media who want Jaro Halak made the starter. It’s been this way for years. If you think Crawford doesn’t get his due here, you should see this nonsense. But hey, it’s Boston, he’s not from Quincy, so is anyone else surprised?

David Backes – The one plus of last spring was Backes having to watch his former team celebrate while he was in the pressbox or trying to be a goon or something. There aren’t many contracts as bad as Seabrook’s around. There’s a kind of symbolism that this is one of them. Maybe more went on in that corner in St. Louis in 2014 than we thought.


Um, yeah, so this game was a thing that happened.

Box Score

–This was never really going to be a game, and indeed it wasn’t. With the Hawks in Europe right now the Rockford Ice Hogs took the ice against the Bruins this afternoon. And it wasn’t a bunch of AHL’ers for Boston—by and large it was the Bruins actual lineup. So essentially we learned that our minor league team is not as good as last season’s Stanley Cup finalists. You’re shocked, right?

–That said, it was still an utter beat down by Boston. Obviously the score tells you that. The fact that there were two hat tricks tells you that (DeBrusk and Pastrnak). The Bruins dominated possession to the tune of 80 CF% in the first, 62 CF% in the second and a measly 48 CF% in the third but by then no one cared and it really didn’t matter. The Bruins just took the puck from the “Hawks” at will. Boston pushed them off the puck in open ice, at either blue line, on the boards, wherever and whenever they wanted it. The Hawks passing was pretty dismal too, which didn’t help, so when Boston wasn’t manhandling them, they were able to intercept bad passes and get possession that way.

–I want to be Adam Boqvist’s #1 fan, but he was practically invisible today. He can get the puck out of his own zone, that much I know. But he got dispossessed or turned it over once he got anywhere near the offensive blue line. This isn’t to say he sucks or even that he’s overrated, but it shows there’s a huge difference between how he looked playing against children earlier in the preseason versus how he looks playing against top-flight teams.

–Philipp Kurashev had a nice goal. The Bruins were clearly not giving a shit by the time they got to the mid-way point of the second, and Kurashev jumped on a puck that dribbled away from the D-men as they were entering the Hawks’ zone. He took it all the way down and had a nice shot bank off Tuukka Rask. So there was that.

Brad Marchand is still a piece of shit, in case you were wondering. He basically laid on top of Matthew Highmore in the third period and pinned him like a bully doing the “stop hitting yourself” routine. Fuck this guy.

–Oh, and Kris Versteeg still sucks. So we’ll definitely be seeing him with the top club shortly.