We bring our team previews to a close, where we most definitely didn’t skip anyone, with the team that has every chance to be the best comedy act in the league this year. A lettered captain has already fucked off for the all-you-can-eat-and-drink menu at Caesar’s. They hated their coach last year, and yet he’s still coaching. The defense has been ripped apart to the point where they really need Carl Dahlstrom. Patrik Laine bitched to everyone he wants to play on the top line, where there doesn’t appear to be any room, which will make his linemates on the second line feel very welcoming. There’s still a wealth of talent in Winnipeg, and on that alone they could cozy up to 100 points. Or they could deteriorate right out of the playoffs.


47-30-5  99 points (2nd in Central, out in 1st round)

3.29 GF/G (7th)  2.96 GA/G (15th)

48.9 CF% (19th)  47.7 xGF% (23rd)

24.6 PP% (4th)  79.2 PK% (22nd)

Goalies: Same as last year, as Connor Hellebuyck will be backed up by Laurent Brossoit. Hellebuyck didn’t hit the heights of the previous year, at a solid .913 overall. The problem for the Jets is they weren’t very good defensively, and they figure to be a measure worse this year. So .913 very well might not be near enough to not give up three goals per game or worse. More worrying, is that Hellebuyck lagged behind his expected save-percentage last year at evens, which simply can’t happen this year. Is he the .924 guy of ’17-’18 or is he more to the career .915? It’s probably the latter, but will that include enough miracles to keep their excellent finishing close enough to win games? Real question.

Brossoit was excellent as a backup last year, and if he puts up another .920 and Hellebuyck struggles a bit, Paul Maurice is going to have another headache he doesn’t know how to handle.

Defense: Goodness. This is a unit. Byfuglien has fucked off, and likely isn’t coming back. Jacob Trouba finally got his wish, which was an escape from Winnipeg. Tyler Myers shuffled off to Vancouver, though that’s not a bad thing. So the only remaining player from last year’s top four is Josh Morrissey, and we don’t know if he’s actually good or looked good next to Trouba. Dmitry Koulikov is still here, whatever that does for you. Promising kid Sami Niku has to start in the minors due to conditioning. Nathan Beaulieu, Anthony Bitteto, Dahlstrom, and Tucker Poolman are the very definition of “guys.” Maybe they think Neal Pionk is going to be more than the Rangers did, but this is a goddamn mess. And this was a team that didn’t have impressive metrics when it came to attempts and chances against last season. What’s it going to look like this one? Especially if they try and play as up-tempo as they have, which they kind of need to to get the most out of their forwards.

Forwards: With Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor back in the fold, there is still the ton of finish along with mainstays Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Bryan Little, Nikolaj Ehlers. There are the nifty two-way guys in Andrew Copp, Mathieu Perreault, Jack Roslovic, and Adam Lowry. It’s not the happiest bunch thanks to the windsock moods of Laine and how everyone feels about the coach. And they’re going to have to continue to outscore opponents and their own defense, because it could be a real challenge. There are going to be nights when they put up five and six. There are also going to be nights when they hit a couple posts or aren’t quite as dynamic and their defense gives up five or six. If the power play isn’t clicking above 20%, they’re going to have real issues.

Prediction: Tire fire. This team absolutely quit on its coach in the playoffs last year and not kicking Maurice to the curb, who’s never known what he’s doing, was a huge mistake. They’ll probably sacrifice the first four to six weeks waiting for Chevyldayoff to clear the gas leak in his office and can Maurice’s ass. From there it’s about the hire and whether the players are too far gone or respond. If they stick with Maurice too long, this will definitely go into the tank and they’re only eight points or so away from slipping out of the playoffs altogether. There’s so much that can go wrong here. If Hellebuyck is only solid, that might not be enough. If no one on the defense claims a higher spot, they’ll get run over. If Josh Morrissey isn’t up to being the guy, they could get run over. If the forwards think they’ve missed their window and give up the fight, which they did once, they won’t score enough to outlast their other problems. And it won’t take much for that asylum up in Manitoba to completely turn on them and turn into a complete zoo.

It’s on a knife’s edge up there, and the smart money is it falls off.


Since that fateful day when Stan Bowman pulled Quenneville’s heart of out his ass and made him sniff it with the Hjalmarsson trade, Connor Murphy’s performance has been a consistent curiosity. He’s often looked like the best Hawks D-man on the ice when he’s healthy. But when you pan out for a longer view of the defense, it’s always felt like being the best of this bunch is like beating a two-legged dog at a digging contest. This year, Murphy will likely need to shoulder the burden of being the only passable defensive defenseman on the Hawks, at least until de Haan gets back.

2018–19 Stats

52 GP – 5 G, 8 A, 13 P

48.63 CF% (-0.4 CF% Rel), 38.8 oZS%

54.67 GF% (1.29 Rel GF%), 44.44 xGF% (-1.08 Rel xGF%)

Avg. TOI 19:29

A Brief History: We’ve always liked Connor Murphy around here, and we all thought we were getting a younger, cheaper Hjalmarsson in him. In some ways, that’s been true. Over the last two years, each has missed extended time due to injury (Murphy last year, Hjalmarsson in 18). They’ve been fairly comparable in those two years, though Hjalmarsson has had an overall edge in defensive play.

But last year wasn’t particularly kind to our Large Irish Son. He missed 30 games due to a back injury, which is never good for a 6’4” skater. We saw him skating up at the blue line at times as Colliton’s man defense went through what we can only pray is growing pains. His possession metrics, both vanilla (48.63%) and high-danger varieties (39.34%), were underwater on the year, though you might expect that given his zone starts.

And yet, Murphy was relatively fine next to Carl Dahlstrom. They were the “shutdown pair” for a time, and compared to everyone else on the Hawks’s blue line, the ice was least dangerous when Murphy was out there. Maybe the most interesting stat about Murphy last year is that despite starting in his own zone about 62% of the time, his GF% was second among Hawks D-men who played at least 41 games, second only to Duncan Keith (58 oZS%).

It Was the Best of Times: Murphy stays healthy and jumps into the top-pairing role with Gustafsson. Hell, you can play them both on their off sides and see what happens. Gus scored 60 on his off side, and Murphy never looked too out of place on his, so whatever. Fuck it. Putting Murphy and Gus together hedges Gus’s awfulness in his own zone. Might as well try it, since the only other true shutdown guy on this team, Calvin de Haan, won’t be around for a month or so.

It Was the BLURST of Times: Murphy’s back keeps him off the ice for 40% of the year. For all the bitching we’ve done about Murphy’s use since his arrival, Colliton has upped the time we see Murphy on the ice consistently. It’s unlikely we’ll see him with any less than second-pairing minutes. So, aside from injury—which is still a distinct possibility for a man of his significant vertical carriage—the worst scenario is that Murphy can’t adapt to whatever it is that Colliton’s defensive scheme wants him to do, which, based on last year, seems to ask defensemen to skate around the blue line in their own zone.

Prediction: Murphy continues to toil in the dungeon shifts. When de Haan comes back healthy, he finally gets to play with a worthwhile partner, and the Hawks have a true shutdown pairing. He and de Haan also round out the PK1 unit, which is a vast improvement over Keith–Seabrook. The PK still finishes toward the top of the bottom half of the league (say, 18th), but not because of anything Murphy does. Murphy continues to go underappreciated for the cardinal sin of not being Niklas Hjalmarsson.

Murphy’s never going to give you sexy numbers, unless, like, a 69 dZS% tickles you. He’s about as representative a defenseman as you’ll find. But with the offensive threats the Hawks have, that’s really all they need.

Stats from,, and

Previous Previews

Robin Lehner

Corey Crawford

Adam Boqvist

Carl Dahlstrom

Calvin de Haan

Erik Gustafsson

Duncan Keith

Slater Koekkoek

Olli Maatta


Like Boqvist whose preview came before, it could be that Carl Dahlstrom never plays a game for the Hawks this season. But given his proximity to the top six and the likelihood of injuries/incompetence, he most likely will suit up at some point. It won’t be terribly exciting, but it might not be terribly bad either. And for this team, anything above “terribly bad” on the blue line is a step up.

’18-’19 Stats

38 G – 0 G – 6 A – 6 P   6 PIM

47.4 CF% (-1.08 Relative)  45.3 xGF% (+0.3 Relative)

37.8 Offensive Zone Start %, 62.2 Defensive Zone Start %

A Brief History: For the second straight season, Dahlstrom was called up when the Hawks blue line turned to goo, with the idea that his steady game would help to calm the waters. But unlike his first attempt, this one went well at points. Dahlstrom quickly formed a “shutdown” pairing with Connor Murphy, as they were both marooned in their own zone a ton because there was simply no other d-man who could do it. It was the two of them who saw the last-minute shifts in games the Hawks were leading and had to protect for a stretch in the middle of the season, relegating Marlboro 72 to the bench at a time that used to be their g-spot. Dahlstrom got shifted around a ton via partners and sides, but generally was as solid a defensive players as the Hawks could find. Which says a lot.

It Was The Best Of Times: In all honestly, the best case scenario is that the Hawks have six or seven d-men better than Dahlstrom and he never plays. But that’s not the case, though he might still never play. Dahlstrom is hopefully a #7 or #8 that only comes up for air during injury problems and gets you out of a week or even month with steady if unspectacular play. Perhaps even better is if he plays well enough to entice another team to give up something useful for him, whether that team is having its own injury crisis or talent shortage. Dahlstrom is going to get crowded out anyway (we hope) by Boqvist and Mitchell one day soon, unless the Hawks do some serious clearing of the decks. Maybe then he could man your third-pairing without embarrassing anyone. But you’d like to think we could aim for more here.

It Was The BLURST Of Times: Boqvist is a defensive disaster in camp and is sent down. Olli Maatta can’t prove he can escape his Olli Maatta-ness in the season’s first month or two, and ends up back in the pressbox where the Penguins and Erik Goddamn Gudbanson left him in the first place. Slater Koekkoek still blows chunks. Which means Dahlstrom has to play most every game, probably pairing with de Haan for at least a defensively aware but criminally immobile pairing, Or he reconnects with Murphy to do basically the same thing but with more mobility. Even in the worst-case, Dahlstrom’s play is hardly going to sink you, it’s just the inability to move off that floor that will hold the Hawks back.

Prediction: Maatta would probably have to shoot both Stan and Coach Cool Youth Pastor’s dog to get out of the lineup, and Slater Koekkoek seems to be the new David Rundblad when we didn’t even want the old one. So spots in the lineup are going to be hard to come by for anyone else. It’s likely that Dahlstrom starts the year in Rockford again, but will most likely be the first call-up ahead of Boqvist, enraging a certain portion of Hawks-dom, when it turns out all the above are an affront to the Lord. He’ll play somewhere between 20-30 games to give any sort of stability to a blue line that desperately needs it. de Haan is the souped up version of Dahlstrom, but his iffy health status probably opens the door for Dahlstrom for a stretch. It’s more of the I-90 shuttle for Carl.

Previous Player Previews

Corey Crawford

Robin Lehner

Adam Boqvist

Everything Else

Carl Dahlstrom is a nice #7 D-man. He’s neither so good nor so bad that you notice him. I would stop the review right there if I could, since that’s about all worth knowing about Dahlstrom, but they’re going to take my thumbs if I don’t expound. So let’s shit on Stan Bowman for a little while.


38 GP, 0 G, 6 A, 6 P

47.32 CF%, 43.72 xGF% [5v5]

It Comes With a Free Frogurt!

The Hawks had to ask a lot of Donald Dahlstrom in what was technically his second time in the NHL. This is a thing that happens when your GM is too much of a sniveling, mealy-mouthed coward to fire the coach he so desperately wanted to fire before the season began. Never forget that Stan Bowman unironically signed Brandon Manning in a passive-aggressive salvo against Joel Quenneville, leaving Colliton frantically searching for bodies to throw on the blue line in response.

Dahlstrom happened to be one of those bodies.

Given the situations he got thrown into, Dahlstrom was fine. According to Corey Sznadjer (@ShutdownLine) and CJ Turtoro (@CJTDevil), Dahlstrom was good at cutting off play at the blue line this year, but the sample sizes are small, both for this year and his career.

Playing dungeon shifts with Our Large Irish Son, his CF% at 5v5 was 47+. That’s pretty good when you consider that he started just 38+% of his time in the offensive zone.

He played on the PK and was a guy out there, on the ice for 10 PK goals allowed in about 71.5 minutes. He also had the highest PDO among all Blackhawks: 103.8 at evens.

But buddy, if we’re hanging onto an unsustainably high PDO and small-sample-size entry-defense stats as highlights, there’s not much behind the curtain.

Dahlstrom isn’t useless. He played 38 games and was OK. He’ll have a cap hit of $850,000 in each of the next two years. That’s not terrible. He’s a depth guy that should be splitting starts with Seabrook. That’s all.

The Frogurt Is Also Cursed

It’s important to restate that Dahlstrom got thrown into the deep end because Stan Bowman thought it was more important to give Quenneville a defensive monolith than to sign literally any other D-man than Brandon Manning. The only way it might have been worse is if he’d signed Roman Polak, and I assume the only reason he didn’t is because “Ric Flair of the Offseason” Jim Nill managed to get on the phone with him first. Because of that wretched signing and eventual trade, Dahlstrom had to pick up the pieces, and it wasn’t always pretty.

Among all Hawks D-men, Dahlstrom had the worst High-Danger Corsi For percentage at evens, with a 36.92%. That means he was giving up a shit-ton of high-danger shots while he was out there. But given the dungeon shifts he and Murphy were expected to take, typically against better competition, that number makes more sense. It’s still not good, but it’s not as awful as it seems in context.

In trying to think of other examples of any outlandishly bad play, I’ve come up short. He’s not particularly fast, which means he’s more inclined to play conservatively. His conservative play and positioning mean he’s usually not terribly out of position, but it also means he’s never going to contribute offensively. Given Colliton’s lust for run-and-gun, man-to-man defense, it’s hard to picture Dahlstrom having any sustainable success here, outside of spot starting.

Can I Go Now?

Donald Dahlstrom is here for another two years, barring a trade. You’ll hardly ever notice him, given his ghost-like features, and that’s fine.

In an ideal world, he and Seabrook would split starts right down the middle. But that would require Colliton to have the spine to scratch Seabrook, Bowman to have the mental wherewithal to trade for a true #1 D-man rather than vainly and embarrassingly comparing his team to the Islanders, and Brent Seabrook to be the leader everyone trips over themselves to say he is and swallow the scratches for the sake of the team.

I don’t like those odds, and you shouldn’t either.

Previous Player Reviews

Corey Crawford

Cam Ward

Collin Delia

Duncan Keith

Connor Murphy

Henri Jokiharju

Gustav Forsling

Erik Gustafsson

Everything Else

Well here’s a week to analyze. Clocked twice by actual real teams (neither of which is higher than third in their division though, so that’s fun!), and then getting past two dregs with 13 goals combined. Let’s do the thing:

The Dizzying Highs

Brandon Saad – Two goals and four points in four games might not sound like much, but it’s a little more than that. Also, Saad being a point per game and goals in every other would be a very fine season, obviously. What’s drawing my eye to The General is that possession-wise, he’s been flattening everyone in front of him. He threw up 70%+ Corsi against both the Devils and Jackets, and even in the loss to Boston where he was under water he was actually well ahead of the team-rate. Only last night was he below what the team was doing, and he managed two points anyway.

It would seem Saad has found a home on a third-line, which is obviously not what anyone pictured when he was brought back. I’m still a big proponent of putting him back in the top-six after he’s had his longest stretch of dominant hockey in these two seasons, just to see what he can do with better talent and the gained confidence. But he’s a weapon to have there where most teams can’t defend him, and if you were to swap him with say Kahun you’d only get the proper defensive work on a third line without any of the dash. That would probably work better when David Kampf is back in the lineup. Perhaps most impressive about this little streak is that Saad basically has had to create all his own offense (with a little help from Dylan Sikura, who needs a goal to validate the good work he’s been doing), which is something we’ve cudgeled him with before.

As we’ve said, it’s probably past time to give up on what you thought Saad could be, or ever winning that trade. That doesn’t mean Saad isn’t useful, and very much so, and you’ll find life easier if you just appreciate what the Hawks have. That probably won’t stop his name in trade rumors in the summer, and maybe that will be something the Hawks have to do to get what they really need. For now, let’s leave it.

The Terrifying Lows

Carl Dahlstrom – The numbers look ok on Dahlstrom, at least the last two games do. But these are ones you have to get past the numbers and see with your eyes. And it’s horribly unfair on Dahlstrom, who went from in and out of the IceHogs lineup to taking on the dungeon shifts and assignments with Connor Murphy after like a game and a half up in the big league. He is not cut out for this, and you can even have a debate whether he’s cut out for more than #6 or #7 duty. Still, there have been some ugly, ugly shifts.

Dahlstrom isn’t as slow as you might think, but that doesn’t mean he’s fast. And while he’s shown a willingness the past two or three games to try and skate himself out of trouble, sometimes the results have been icky. And that’s not even the main problem, as he’s been wildly chasing out of position, ending up in a corner or behind the net when the puck isn’t there anymore. Perhaps he thinks he needs to be the aggressive one with Connor Murphy more built for the safety role, but that doesn’t mean he’s built for it. The Hawks and Dahlstrom don’t have much choice because this is what they have, but there are going to be more shifts and nights like these as we finish up whatever the hell this is.

The Creamy Middles

Alex DeBrincat – It might be a tad harsh on someone to describe their seven-point week as merely par for the course, but despite what a whole lot of scouts trying to cover their ass think, DeBrincat being a premier scorer in this league is just the facts of the case. He’s now 10th in goals in the league, and has an outside shot at getting 40 this year. You could look at his 18% shooting-percentage as wonder if it’s not a touch lucky, but that’s not that much beyond his 15.5% last year when he was rookie. Some would probably want to dismiss most of his total on merely being dunks from the left circle. But if it were so easy, wouldn’t everyone do it? The kid scores. He gets where he has to without anyone noticing, and he finishes. Now imagine what he could do in a season where he’s taking as many shots as Kane is this year (currently 240 for Kane and 170 for Top Cat). And seeing as how he’ll be playing for a contract next year, it might only get better (and William Nylander‘s deal is probably making Stan Bowman awfully sweaty).

Everything Else

It’s time once again for our version of the Blackhawks hot-or-not: 

The Dizzying Highs

Jonathan Toews: With a hat trick plus two assists yesterday, we’d be remiss if we DIDN’T put Toews in the Dizzying Highs. I can’t think of a performance more worthy of the name than a five-point game, and one that was against the current Stanley Cup champions no less, even if they were still drunk from the night before. Beyond just yesterday, though, Toews has been playing consistently well—obviously for the season as a whole but in particular the last week or so, other than the shit-fest at Madison Square Garden the other night. He had a point in each of the three games prior to that. He’s already surpassed his point total for last year and he’s tied his total for 2016-17. Yes, his possession numbers are a little questionable still (50.7 CF%, 1.9 CF% Rel), but shit, the guy had a hat trick and five total points yesterday.

Patrick Kane: Kane gets an honorable mention here this week because he too had five points against the Capitols yesterday and the little shit has been playing out of his mind. Again.

The Terrifying Lows

Carl Dahlstrom: OK, Dahlstrom is inexperienced and getting absolutely buried with his zone starts: 28.75% offensive zone starts as of today, per Natural Stat Trick. However, he’s also playing with one of the 2.5 competent defensemen the Hawks have right now, and he’s sucked out loud for a couple weeks, after what had been a promising start that now just screams adrenaline-and-good-luck. We can parse the stats any way we want and get a muddled answer: His GF% is 54, but they give up more scoring chances when he’s on the ice (47 SCF%). On top of that, the Hawks give up a shitload more high-danger chances than what they attempt when Dahlstrom is out there—his High-Danger Chances For percentage is a woeful 38.5%. But my immediate issue is not just numbers (although I am angry at those too), but it’s how doltish he’s played lately, i.e., against the Rangers last week, and the Knights a few days before that. He’s either standing around watching opponents score, or he’s in the wrong position, or he’s chasing helplessly, or he’s leaving his man open. I realize there are no good answers with this defense, but whatever hope there was around Dahlstrom is fading fast.

Duncan Keith: Keith gets an honorable mention here this week because his turnover to Chris Kreider in the Rangers game last week was so abominable, I’m still not over it.

The Creamy Middles

Collin Delia: Let it be known that I don’t like listing the same guy in the same part of this post two weeks in a row (and I’m now doing it twice in this one). But like or not Delia and the goaltending situation as a whole is an unavoidable point of emphasis so I don’t want to ignore it simply for format’s sake. Anyway, you know we’re fans of Delia around these parts, but yesterday he had a mix of highlight-reel saves and soft goals that should never have happened. Out of his last six starts, Delia has given up three or more goals in five of them. That’s troubling. However, his save percentage is still .923%, so you know a lot of this is the defense hanging him out to dry (see: Dahlstrom in the aforementioned Vegas game). In those six previous starts, the lowest number of shots he faced was 32, and the highest was 50. Good lord. So Delia is keeping them in games and basically has one arm tied behind his back thanks to the putrid blue line, yet he’s still undeniably coming down to earth after an insane start.

Brandon Saad: Saad gets an honorable mention here because his goal against the Caps yesterday was a thing of beauty, and he’s had three goals in as many games. He still fucks.

All stats via Hockey Reference and Natural Stat Trick

Everything Else

Box Score


Natural Stat Trick

Vegas pulls a Kano on the Hawks, throwing knives and ripping hearts out. It’s gonna be a long, cold winter.  To the bullets.

– Certainly not one for Carl Dahlstrom’s highlight reel. You can easily blame him for all of Vegas’s last three goals, including the one where Shea Theodore pissed his entire name, including his fucking Confirmation name, in Dahlstrom’s snow. On Vegas’s goal at the end of the second, Dahlstrom confusingly backed off of Carpenter coming down the boards, giving Carpenter just enough room past the near-side dot to snipe the gloveside corner. On the game-tying goal, Dahlstrom was on the completely wrong side, forcing Murphy to try to over everything. Then on the OT goal, Dahlstrom was either flatfooted for simply too slow to keep up with Theodore, and the puck went off Dahlstrom’s stick through Delia’s five hole.

Dahlstrom and Murphy haven’t looked great together lately, and the reason is clear: Dahlstrom had his flash in the pan, and now he’s going back to the milquetoast Jared Dunn lookalike we always knew and were indifferent toward.

– On the plus side, Connor Murphy did look good for most of the game. Aside from a weak holding call in the second, he gummed up several chances from Vegas, especially in the third. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him line up next to Davidson or Koekkoek on Monday.

Collin Delia once again did the best he could with what he was given. Vegas’s first goal is partially on him though. After stopping Nate Schmidt’s shot from the blue line, Delia failed to cover the puck even though he had his glove hovering over it like someone who has “Hooters photo op” circled on his calendar. Combined with Jokiharju getting pushed aside like the 19-year-old he is by Alex Tuch, it gave Tuch all the time he needed to post his 16th of the year. Hard to be mad about his performance otherwise.

– As Fels keeps saying, the Brain Trust and Coach Cool Youth Pastor are eventually going to have to tell Seabrook “It’s not us, it’s you.” Putting Jokiharju on his off side to accommodate Porkins isn’t going to help Harju’s development in any way, shape, or form, and it should not be considered again after tonight. Jokiharju had a 36+ CF% next to Seabrook and was often overmatched in his own zone. Asking him to cover for Fatso while on his off side is simply asking too much. If they’re going to fluff Seabrook for everything he’s done for them in the past, they should do it with someone like Murphy, who’s proven he’s up to the task. Having Harju with Seabrook is doing to destroy his development.

– On the plus side, Alex DeBrincat is now the one doing the fucking. His game-opening goal was an absolute masterpiece, and if you don’t believe me, just look:

He managed to tip Kahun’s shot out of mid-air and disrupt Flower’s timing on the stick sweep, then reached out as far as his 5’6” frame would let him and backhanded the puck in. You could hang that in the Louvre and it wouldn’t be out of place.

Then, he and Garbage Dick did what they’ve been doing on the power play. Kane drew everyone to him, leaving DeBrincat so embarrassingly open that Foley made the call before the shot came off his stick. The next time someone says RE-SIGN PANARIN, after you’re finished telling them to fuck off, show them the clip of that goal and ask “Why?” The Hawks have a younger, cheaper, more defensively responsible version of Panarin on the team right this second. As I am wont to say, thank fuck he’s 5’6”.

– Even though Kane’s original goal got called off because of Saad’s offside, there was a lot to like about everything that led up to that. First, Gustafsson made a crisp pass to Saad at the Hawks blue line, and then Saad kicked it out to Kane. Kane made just one too many hesitation moves for Saad to stay onside, which is something that wouldn’t happen if, you know, Saad were playing next to Kane regularly instead of the gigantic, useless obelisk that is Artem Anisimov. There was a nice fluidity to everything outside of the offside, and it’s something Colliton should look into.

– Because seriously, Artem Anisimov sucks. I challenge anyone to show me what he brings to this Blackhawks squad aside from the mental vision of a comically and barbarically large dick swinging like the pendulum of a clock that makes too much noise and can’t keep time. He makes plate tectonics look like something a premature ejaculator would critique as too fast. He took a hooking penalty late in the first, forcing the Hawks’s completely horseshit penalty kill to do what it has proven time and again it can’t do (they did kill the penalty, so hooray?). He contributed absolutely nothing. Dylan Strome does all the things he’s supposed to do, except better and for less money. If you can trade Manning and Rutta, you can trade Anisimov.

– If Erik Gustafsson ever decides to even feign defensive responsibility, he can be something special. His assist on Kane’s goal gave him an assist in eight straight games, something that hasn’t been done since Keith in 2013. He’s catching up to Chelios and Pilote in that little stat race, and while no one will ever mistake him for Chelios or Pilote, there is something there.

– Colliton opted to go with Kruger over Strome in the last seven minutes. Colliton is obviously a bright dude, but sometimes, you can’t help but wonder how much smarter he’d look if he’d stop trying to show us how big his galaxy brain is. You can argue that Strome had a team worst 25 CF%, but no one on the Hawks managed to crack 44% on the night. In that context, you can’t tell me Kruger centering Kane over Strome is a good idea.

The Hawks would have been lucky to win this one because they were so thoroughly thrashed throughout the night. But hey, it wouldn’t be Vegas if they let you come out with your shoes.


Booze du Jour: Tin Cup & High Life: The Christmas gifts that keep on giving.

Line of the Night: “Was that John Scott?” – Eddie O., because John Scott is a gigantic joke whose presence you have to question at all times.

Everything Else

Box Score


Natural Stat Trick

One of the worst shows I have ever seen live was Beirut at the Aragon in, like, 2011–12. I showed up for the first half hour, got bored, and left. It’s no wonder this game felt so familiar, because that’s the exact tack the Hawks took with this eminently winnable game tonight. After a hot start, the Hawks got buried by their own incompetence, which is just another way of saying business as usual. Let’s do this quickly: We’ve all got Feats of Strength to finish, I’m sure.

– Coming into this game on a three-game winning streak and fresh off Collin Delia’s stoning of the most dangerous line in hockey, Jeremy Colliton decided to ride the Cam Ward wave. This is some true Galaxy Brain shit. On the one hand, complaining about Ward getting the start tonight probably has a bit of looking a gift horse in the mouth to it. Coming into this game, he had a .949 SV%. On the other, those two games came against a floundering and hurt Preds and an even more hurt Dallas team. Also, in case Ward spasming a couple good games had made you forget, Cam Ward is really a used-car-lot wavy-arm guy who moonlights as a goaltender.

Ward should have been pulled after the first goal. For reasons that can only be deciphered by true Brain Geniouses, Cam Ward came out to challenge Hawryluk after Hawryluk overpowered Dahlstrom/Dahlstrom lost his edge. Except after getting about halfway out, Ward flinched and tried to go back, leaving Hawryluk—a guy who has never scored an NHL goal—a yawning net to shoot at. I don’t have adequate words to describe what a shitshow this goal was because there’s no excuse for a 1,000-year veteran to do what Ward did. You wouldn’t see that in a fucking beer league—as Scott Foster once showed us—and yet, here we are.

Then, as if to retroactively adjust to completely losing his ass and crease on the first goal, Cam Ward turtled into the net on Hawryluk’s second goal. Huberdeau’s stretch pass between Keith and Gustafsson was art, and those two probably share part of the blame, but at no point did Ward look like an NHL goaltender on this attempt.

The third goal was more on Forsling than anyone—as Forsling totally froze as Hoffman stepped up after Toews pressured Weegar up top, giving Hoffman too much time to pick his spot, which happened to be the back of the net via Forsling’s groin—but that fourth goal was the result of a rebound that would have made Dennis Rodman blush. And the fifth goal, because fifth goals are things we talk about when Cam Ward starts, was a simple short-side snipe that an NHL-caliber goalie probably puts some leather on. But alas, Cam Ward is not an NHL-caliber goalie.

Jeremy Colliton has done a lot right lately. Starting Cam Ward tonight is decidedly not one of them. Fucking ride Delia until he gives you a reason not to. Starting Cam Ward doesn’t do anything for this team.

Dylan Strome is officially good. You can mark it down. His assist on Our Large Irish Son’s first goal of the year was a clinic in vision and patience. After stealing the puck at the offensive blue line, Strome set up behind the net off a Perlini pass, waiting for help. Murphy crashed, Strome fed him, and the rest is history. But the patience and nerve Strome showed behind the net was otherworldly. Strome had another steal around the same spot in the second, which led to two high-quality chances from Kane. He capped his night off with a goal off a Kane pass. Strome was the most impressive forward of the night, and it looks like the Hawks really have their #2 center in him.

– Our Sweet Boy Connor Murphy also had himself a night. You saw the goal he scored, which was a testament to his positioning and sneaky good wrister. Murphy played a big role in the Hawks’s third goal, leading the rush off a good Forsling outlet pass and grabbing the secondary assist on Strome’s goal. He also led the Hawks in even-strength TOI, led all Hawks D-men with a 51+ CF% at 5v5, and did it mostly against the Huberdeau–Barkov–Dadonov line. On top of all that, Murphy looked much more comfortable with the puck in his exits, which was a weak point in his game last year. Between Strome and Murphy, there’s a lot to hope for regarding the future.

– Here’s your gamely “Alex DeBrincat is not a third liner” alert. His goal was a bit flukey, as he was trying to pass to Kane through the slot and had the good fortune of sweeping in a pinballing puck, but a goal’s a goal. As much as we’d like to see him flip with Anisimov, he’s still making shit work where he’s at.

– Regardless of what Colliton ends up being, it looks like he might go down as the guy who fixed the power play. The top unit of Gus at QB; Strome in front; and Top Cat, Toews, Kane across has looked legitimately dangerous when it’s out there and Gus and Kane can be bothered to give a shit. It scored again due to Toews’s roving and retrieval and the movement Kane, Gus, and Top Cat show up top. It’s probably way too early to pronounce the PP truly fixed, but when’s the last time you looked forward to the PP?

– Just a quick reminder that Cam Ward sucks and we could have had Delia in net, who likely stops at least three of the five Ward allowed tonight.

Dylan Sikura and Brendan Perlini led all Hawks in CF% tonight, with shares above 70. Perlini is going to be frustrating, as he’s big, fast, and has no finish, as evidenced again tonight with his janking of a shot toward a wide-open net early in the Hawks’s first PP. Sikura’s no savior, but he’s good on the third line.

Carl Dahlstrom ended up in Coach Cool Youth Pastor’s doghouse tonight, spending the latter part of the game with Seabrook. You can maybe partially blame him for the first goal. But other than that, I’m not sure what else he did noticeably poorly. He and Murphy didn’t have the best game together, as Murphy’s peripherals spiked away from Dahlstrom, but I’m not sure what triggered Colliton to switch them up.

– Saad and Toews looked good in the first, then got completely horsed for the rest of the game. Erik Gustafsson also flashed evidence that he has a Give-a-Shit meter, and it was hovering around zero for the last two periods.  You can trace much of the loss to these facts, along with the fact that Cam Ward blows.

It wasn’t all bad, but it certainly wasn’t good. The Hawks will get a few days off before welcoming the Minnesota Mild to the UC on Thursday. Until then, stay toasty and toasted. Merry Whatever You Celebrate.

Beer du Jour: Miller High Life and Death Wish Coffee

Line of the Night: “It’s tough waking up and seeing how ugly I am now. I knew I didn’t have the looks before, but this doesn’t help.” –Connor Murphy explaining to Steve Konroyd how he felt after the Tyler Pitlick elbow.

Everything Else

Box Score


Natural Stat Trick

Don’t look now, but the Hawks have put together two quality games. It sure is nice to watch the Hawks plunge the knife every once in a while. Let’s do the bullets.

– This may have been the best game Erik Gustafsson has played as a Blackhawk. He started 15 seconds in, keeping a puck that squeaked by Ward from farting across the goal line. That’s the kind of goal that’s been typical of the Hawks of late (and Ward when he’s gotten his chances in the crease), so having Gustafsson tidy it up early was absolutely necessary.

From there, Gustafsson was a force, plowing home a PP goal, setting up Kane’s empty-net backbreaker with a stretch pass from his own zone, and looking downright responsible in his own end. Though his CF% was 44+, when adjusting for score and venue, it sat just north of 50%. Given that he and Keith were on the ice for 24 minutes apiece and played primarily against the Klingberg–Benn–Seguin trifecta, you’ll take that every day. If this is the kind of game Gustafsson can play with any regularity, he could be a second-pairing guy with fringe first-pairing potential. There’s still a long way to go, but you love to see games like this. The offensive potential is there, and it throbs when it wants to.

– Let’s talk about that PP goal. Fifth Feather often says that it’s movement rather than Annette Frontpresence that leads to the best scoring opportunities, and the PP was a perfect example.

The Hawks were set in a 1–3–1, with Strome in front of the net; Gustafsson at the point; and Top Cat, Toews, and Kane going left to right. Rather than handing the puck off to Kane and having all four guys watch him stick handle, the Hawks elected to let Gus take the lead. With Toews roaming around in the mid-slot and acting as a dual retriever/safety valve, Gus, Top Cat, and Kane had more room to play a triangle passing scheme. Kane also had the freedom to skate on either side, with Top Cat and Gus rotating to fill, and that strategy is what led to the goal. With Faska missing his stick, Kane broke the script and skated around him to DeBrincat’s spot on the far-board circle. DeBrincat cycled to the point and Gus dropped lower toward the circle on the near boards as the Stars defense sagged, leaving DeBrincat and Gus all the space in the world to play catch and open a lane. Once Gus got the return pass, he had all the time and space in the world, and it was because the Stars had to keep an eye on Toews in the middle and Kane wherever Kane decided to be.

Sure, Strome was in front screening, but the movement on that PP was something I haven’t seen from the Hawks in a long, long time. It was simply gorgeous.

Patrick Kane was spry tonight. His backhander in the second was special, and his skating and vision set up the PP goal. That creep can roll.

Cam Ward had himself a nice game. Sure, he did something you don’t often see—whiffing on covering the puck with his glove, leading to the Stars’s second goal—and he looked stabby and gooey at times, but he made several high-danger saves too. The defense wasn’t nearly as bad as it has been in front of him tonight, which certainly helps.

– I’m not going to be too hard on Carl Dahlstrom, given that he’s been thrown into the deep end. But he probably could have done more to prevent the Stars’s first goal. He got beaten both to and off the puck by a streaking Gurianov, even though it looked like Dahlstrom had a better angle as the play was developing. He then overcommitted trying to stop Benn’s pass after Benn cut back behind the net, leaving Seguin all the room in the world. Although the real culprit on this goal is the Fels Motherfuck, because saying Seguin couldn’t throw a grape in the ocean in the preview was just begging for him to score.

– It mostly worked out tonight, but I’m still baffled that Artem Anisimov gets to play with Strome and Kane. Granted, his pass from the near boards to set up Kane’s goal early in the second was nice. But after that? In the lead up to Seguin’s goal, Strome and Anisimov had a 2-on-1 developing. Watching Anisimov and Strome try to execute a 2-on-1 is like watching slugs fuck. Strome just kept waiting for Anisimov to beat his man, and he may as well have tried to light water on fire. Strome probably should have taken that shot, but you know who would have made it to the spot he needed to be at? Alex DeBrincat, who continues to prove he isn’t a third liner.

– Which means that of course DeBrincat scored on the third line. Credit to Kampf for getting enough of the puck on the faceoff to give Sikura a chance to complete the set play, dropping the puck onto a waiting DeBrincat’s stick and past THE BISHOP! Though the fancy stats don’t do DeBrincat justice, he had a few good takeaways to go with a few bad giveaways. All in all, a definitely-not-a-third-liner performance.

– I’m not sure what Dominik Kahun is, but it doesn’t look like he’s bad. He led the Hawks with a 56 CF% on the night. He, Toews, and Saad clicked well tonight. Brandon Saad was a force in the first and good throughout as well. And of course, Toews’s renaissance continues. The Hawks may not have a ton going for them right now, but the top line looks legit.

– Our sweet Irish son was having himself an alright game before Tyler “I completely deserve my last name” Pitlick took a page out of the Tom Wilson Being a Horse’s Ass for Dummies book and drove his elbow directly into his mush. With all the blood spilling on the ice, it looked to be a broken nose, and in a best-case scenario, that’s all it will be. Like Gustafsson, Murphy’s raw CF% wasn’t great (44+), but adjusted for score and venue, it was a robust 51+ despite facing mostly Benn, Seguin, and Klingberg. Small sample sizes be damned: Murphy has been the best Hawks D-man overall, and they can’t afford for him to miss more time.

What’s baffling is that Pitlick didn’t get a call on his cheap shot. He had more than enough time to adjust to the play, which happened smack dab in the middle of the ice as the Stars were starting a breakaway. That the refs missed the call was nearly as egregious as Pitlick’s outright assclownery. Pitlick saw Murphy over his shoulder and drove his elbow into his head anyway. What a dickhead. I hope he has a bad Christmas.

Brendan Perlini continued his tour de force of being really fast and having no finish. Still, you like his straight-ahead speed, which is obscene at times. THE BISHOP! did a fine job of stuffing him twice on a breakaway midway through the first, but Perlini got his, potting the final empty netter and icing the game.

Gustav Forsling looked fine tonight. If he can continue to look fine, that would be OK with us.

Two wins in a row feels nice, especially since the Hawks haven’t looked overmatched for the most part. Tomorrow will be a true test against the nightmare that is the Avalanche. Collin Delia would do well to smoke ‘em if he’s got ‘em, because it’s not going to get much tougher than what he’s going to see tomorrow.

But tonight, we said we were hungry and they gave us meat. Get down, make love.

Beer du Jour: Miller High Life

Line of the Night: “Hawks Win!” – Pat Foley with a minute left