Hockey

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

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

BUT THAT’S NOT WHY YOU CALLED!

 

 

Wednesday 4/20

Hawks 4 – Coyotes 3 (OT)

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

 

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

 

Thursday 4/21

Hawks 1 – Kings 4

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Woof.

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

 

Saturday 4/23

Hawks 1 – Sharks 4

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

 

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

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

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

Onward.

Hockey

The Hawks did about what was expected the last three games, looking alive enough to win one game for Pat Foley before they ended up getting schooled by Nashville and Calgary, two playoff teams of differing skill levels that still skated circles around the Hawks. As is life on Madison these days.

Lukas Reichel’s first-year contract is now officially burned as he garnered around 31 minutes for a team playing for nothing. You would think doing this goes directly against the organization’s narrative of keeping all other Hawks prospects down in Rockford for the Tomato Can Playoff Push while players like Riley Stillman, Erik Gustafsson and others get NHL minutes instead of them, and turns out the front office realized the same, as it was announced last night he was heading back to Rockford this morning to go win the Tomato Can Hockey Cup. Good luck!

Thursday 4/14
Hawks 5, Sharks 4 (Hawks win! Hawks win!)
Box Score
Natural Stat Trick

The Hawks finally got their give-a-shit meters to work again, and all it took was their beloved announcer calling his last NHL game and a matchup against another garbage team on a losing streak of their own. Kane, the Cat, Strome and Amy’s Eldest had multi-point nights, while Raddysh with a Y extended his scoring streak to two games. On the other end of that spectrum, defense was nowhere to be found, Reichel took away a puck in the 2nd and then immediately gave it away again five seconds later for his highlight of the night, and Toews, Dach and newly signed Reese Johnson were pointless in this game that should’ve been a point-grabbing free-for-all for every player involved.

The Hawks and Sharks seemed to trade goals all night, as the goaltenders on both sides of the ice were downright bad. Lankinen’s positioning and rebound control were, of course, all over the place, and the Sharks always seemed to have an answer for whatever goal the Hawks scored. Overtime sucked, as both teams didn’t really do shit on either end, trying to get to the shootout, I guess. But the Hawks can still cling to shootouts as something they’re relatively good at, and were able to win the game because of it thanks to a nasty goal by the Cat. Someone’s gotta get it done.

Outside of all the offense, there was too much clowning in this game for my liking. The fact that the Hawks punched Timo Meier in the head because he did a snow spray on Kevin Lankinen was a choice, and then Stillman fighting Jeffrey Viel over it was also a choice, and then Jake McCabe taking a myriad of dumbass roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties was by far the stupidest, most exhausting shit of the night. Remember when this guy was signed to be an effective shutdown defenseman or whatever the fuck? You can’t do that when you’re in the box. It’s time to move on from this style of hockey, I’m exhausted.

Saturday 4/16
Hawks 3, Predators 4
Box Score
Natural Stat Trick

Starting this game out by watching Jeremy Lauzon’s knee bend in ways it should never be able to bend was certainly not the best, and the Predators were able to get out ahead soon after that to set the tone for the game. The Hawks led once thanks to efforts by goals by Kane and Dominik Kubalik later on in the 1st and 2nd periods, one in which Kane mouthed off to some dude in front row seats because that’s hockey baby. Reichel and his newly-burned first-year contract got his first NHL point in a pretty neat assist to Kubalik’s goal, however, and we’ve all been waiting for that. It was a good moment.

Lankinen didn’t look too terrible in this game either, making more impressive saves in this game than the previous. But right after Mackenzie Entwhistle and Boris Katchouk were assessed penalties—including one game misconduct—for REASONS, the Predators completely turned the game around in their favor, with Roman Josi scoring just a minute later to tie things up. Two more Predators goals at the end of the 2nd and the 3rd sealed the deal for the Hawks—the first goal on a Nashville powerplay thanks to Alex Vlasic and a dumb high sticking penalty, speaking of clowning. Despite Kane making a passing play that any Joe Schmoe, including Stillman, can put into the back of the net, the Hawks were pretty overpowered in this game and it showed as they came up empty in the points column.

Monday 4/18
Hawks 2, Flames 5
Box Score
Natural Stat Trick

I predicted this outcome, and I’m sure you did too. And the Flames spent no time making the Hawks look silly, scoring 22 seconds into the game with a fluky goal that Lankinen will probably see in his nightmares. In fact, the Flames had two goals before the Hawks could even register a shot on the fucking net, as I continue to be perplexed as to why Raddysh with a Y was the one tasked to try and stop Johnny fucking Gaudreau from scoring, a mistake I’m sure Derek King and his man behind the curtain will not make again.

The two teams’ meatheads in Nikita Zadorov and Jake McCabe went at it after Zadorov continued to show his ass by putting a big hit on Toews in the first period. Toews then got high sticked right off the faceoff, had to leave to get stitches, and the Flames scored again to put them ahead for the rest of the game, though Alec Regula scored the second and final Hawks goal in the 2nd period with a shot from the point that probably shouldn’t have gone in. Then the Flames rested on their laurels for a majority of the 3rd period, getting only four shots on net in those 20 minutes, probably because they knew they’d have multiple empty net opportunities with the Hawks yanking Lankinen for the extra attacker like always. Johnny Gaudreau isn’t going to miss those empty netters, and this game was no exception.

Thank God we’re almost to the end, and this schedule will be a tad easier as the Hawks revisit the Kings and Sharks near the tail end and face the Coyotes, barely an NHL team, tomorrow night. Can’t wait to see who will muck it up this time!

Baseball

Now that we have over a week of baseball under our belts, the Cubs have begun to fall closer to where they were expected to be—tied for 2nd (with the Pirates?) in this shitty division with a 5-4 record. The Pirates no longer seem like the world’s easiest team to beat, and the Rockies look to have only about 3 men that can definitely be counted on for offense, so any Cubs issues with pitching seemed to just level themselves out in the end as the team went .500 overall this week.

While I’m still not inclined to say the offense is “fixed”—Coors Field is a hitting anomaly, after all—it still seems like the Cubs are getting the runs and offense they need from players across the board. I’m hoping that some of the dicey pitching we saw was also a Coors Field anomaly, though whenever we can get some of our regular guys healthy again, both in the rotation and the pen, would be incredibly helpful. To the bullets!

  • Kyle Hendricks didn’t look too good against the Pirates, allowing 7 hits and 6 runs in 3.2 innings, taking the loss for the team. He threw way less strikes than he did on Opening Day, and his number of swinging strikes between those two outings plummeted from 17 to 6—yikes. Though weak contact is Hendricks’s whole MO, we need all the strikes we can get from him now with the Cubs field being bereft of Gold Glove defensemen. He’ll be on the mound again tomorrow and hopefully give a better performance.
  • Seiya Suzuki’s two solo homers on Tuesday were the sole reason why the Cubs didn’t get swept entirely by the Pirates. If the team hadn’t signed him, this season would be a lot bleaker. But other teams have begun to catch on, especially to the fact that Suzuki absolutely refuses to swing at anything outside of the zone, and when he does swing, he’s dangerous. The Rockies intentionally walked him twice this series in big situations with runners on base, and his next at-bat last night after being intentionally walked gave him his 4th home run of the season. He’s no secret at the plate around the MLB, but that doesn’t seem to stop him from getting on base. Keep ‘em coming.
  • I was ready to throw the book at Patrick Wisdom, but it looks like he’s just going to continue to be his incredibly streaky self. He started out the season with only 1 hit in 23 plate appearances and a .048 batting average, but then racked up 6 hits in the final three games against the Rockies to bring it up to .233. If Wisdom can carry on his more recent streak of hitting well, that would be great, because when he’s not on it’s painful to watch, especially when he’s making mistakes in the field as well, which happens more often than any of us would prefer.
  • Any time Jonathan Villar did anything at shortstop on Thursday I just wished Javy Baez was back—did you ever really appreciate the crazy plays El Mago would make before he left? While Javy is a tough act to follow, sometimes Villar just couldn’t make those plays you took for granted. His one error of the season so far came at short on Thursday—it seems like 2nd base is where he should be playing from now on. He also had 8 hits this weekend while not even playing last night, which makes any smaller defensive fumbles easier to turn a blind eye to for now. And yes, those hits were still at Coors Field, and things could change at the drop of a hat, but for now it’s too early for me to judge him.
  • Kris Bryant had 5 hits this series, all of them beauties. They could’ve been for the Cubs. I miss him. Fuck Ricketts.

Next up this week the Cubs will play three games against the Rays and Pirates, two teams who are either at or just a hair above .500 this season. The Rays lost their weekend series against the White Sox, though their one win last night was a 9-3 crushing. Other than the Sox, the Rays have had what would seem like an easy schedule to start the year with games against the Orioles and Athletics, and yet are still coming out the other side at only .500, so that’s where that team’s at. Since we last saw the Pirates earlier this week, they won 3 of 4 games against the Nationals.

Go Cubs go!

Hockey

The Hawks seem very determined to end this season with a whimper, as the losing streak continues to stretch on for as far as the eye can see and quite possibly with no end in sight if the team’s play over the last few games is any glimpse into the future. McClure pretty much summed up how we all feel in his last wrap, which can be boiled down to “sick of everyone’s shit.” It also doesn’t help that we’re all jonesing for Lukas Reichel’s first NHL point, in which he was denied despite having multiple good chances in the most recent Hawks shellacking against the Kings.

There’s not a lot to look forward to as most Chicagoans have turned their sporting attention to whichever baseball team pleases them most, which can be easily seen in Tuesday’s crowd numbers at the United Center, appearing to be one of the lowest of the season. If you are one of the very few who will be tuning in to watch this dreck (or perhaps just tonight’s ceremony honoring the career of Pat Foley), here’s the rundown of the opposition.

4/14 vs. San Jose

Game Time: 7:30 PM CST
TV/Radio: NBCSCH / WGN 720
Nice Shark, Not a Mindless Eating Machine: Fear the Fin

It’s a battle of the bad teams, as the Sharks somehow beat out the Hawks for the longer losing streak, which is at seven games and against mostly playoff teams, though a 5-2 loss to Arizona is quite embarrassing. We should know, as we’ve recently been there.

The biggest news in the Sharks universe is that Doug Wilson has officially stepped down as general manager for health-related reasons. The team is already a bit of a tire fire on the ice, and now that an extensive search for the new GM has begun in San Jose, there aren’t a lot of Sharks who should feel safe. Like the Hawks, the goaltending situation for next year is very much up in the air, as none of the five goaltenders who have played for the team this year have particularly stellar numbers. James Reimer, with the majority of the starts, and Kaapo Kahkonen, traded from the Wild at the deadline, are looking at .915 and .913 save percentages respectively, which is about as average as it gets. Kahkonen is probably a lock as the veteran netminder who stopped 40 of 41 shots in the Sharks’ brutal 1-0 OT loss to Nashville, but there’s also Adin Hill to look at as well, who has started the second-most games this year and probably wouldn’t clear waivers. I do not envy whoever’s job it is to sort that out.

On the offensive front, there are only three players on the Sharks with more than 12 goals this season, and only two players over 50 points (though Logan Couture is at 49). In many ways, this team mirrors the Hawks with these kinds of stats, except that the Sharks organization is still in denial about their situation and is still trying their best to get back into playoff contention next year—that is, if owner Hasso Plattner has anything to say about it. Either way, this game could be high-scoring and amusing if both teams come out to play. Or not. The Hawks have nothing to play for and look it.

4/16 @ Nashville

Game Time: 11:30 AM CST
TV/Radio:
NBCSCH / WGN 720
Team from the North Country:
On the Forecheck

The Predators are currently fighting for their playoff lives against the Stars and Golden Knights (I guess) and find themselves currently sitting in the first wild card spot in the west. It seems unlikely they will be able to catch St. Louis for the third spot in the Central Division with a 7-point gap between the two teams. Dallas is only a point behind them in the 2nd spot, which neither team will want to be in, as the 2nd wild card team will have to play a game called “How many playoff games can you survive before the Avalanche inevitably crush you?” To make things more amusing, the Predators have the hardest schedule down the stretch with 7 of their final 10 games coming against playoff teams, including Colorado, Calgary twice, and Tampa Bay. This Hawks game is essentially must-win for the team, as it is far and away their easiest on the docket.

The Predators can mostly thank Roman Josi for being where they are now, as he has gone on an offensive tear that blows all of his previous stats completely out of the water. He has 19 goals and 68 assists for 87 points on the year, good for being in on 13% of all goals and assists the Preds have scored this season. To give more credit where credit is due, Matt Duchene bounced back from his horrific season last year to score career highs in goals and points. Filip Forsberg is also blowing away all his previous stats with 72 points this year. And let’s not forget the time-honored tradition (if you can call 2 seasons a tradition) of Juuse Saros putting up a .920-something save percentage. And considering your backup goalie is David Rittich (I shudder at the thought), Saros will likely be ridden hard into the playoffs and depended on for every game.

The Predators will be desperate for an easy win, so I’m sure this game won’t go poorly at all.

4/18 vs. Calgary

Game Time: 7:00 PM CST
TV/Radio:
SN, NBCSCH / WGN 720
You Don’t Care for Me, I Don’t a-Care about That:
The ScorchStack

An absolute ass kicking will commence here. Kevin Lankinen or Collin Delia or whoever Joe Schmoe the Hawks will trot out in net will get absolutely pummeled, shellacked, lit up by the Flames and their fearless leader Johnny Gaudreau, fourth in the league with 101 (!) fucking points because of course he is. There have only been 8 other Flames in the franchise’s history to hit 100 points, so Gaudreau hitting that milestone in their most recent game was a pretty big deal, and a big reason why the team is currently on a 5-game winning streak. (Feasting on the Seattle Kraken for two games in a row doesn’t hurt either.) His linemates, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm, are both having career-best seasons offensively, but are just as much of a pain in the ass defensively as well—God help the Hawks as they try to get by or stop these three.

Other than the first line, secondary scoring is probably a bit of a concern for Calgary as they head into the playoffs. As everyone knows around here, it takes contribution from more than one line to win the Stanley Cup. The Flames have been doing well thanks to their solid defensive metrics, including having the third-least scoring chances against them in the league this season. It also helps when your goaltender Jacob Markstrom has a .924 save percentage, and Flames fans everywhere breathed a sigh of relief when Connor Mackey made his debut for the team against the Sharks, putting old pal Nikita Zadorov on the bench. Anytime his ass can be stapled there will improve the defense on whatever team he may be on.

Hockey

As we embark on the final month of the Hawks season, there really is no need to do a “how did we get here” post mortem, because we all know exactly how it happened. There’s really nothing to rehash now that the excitement has faded from the trade deadline and the next batch of intrigue not arriving until the NHL draft this summer. All we’re left with are a few games to judge how some of the younger talent (especially Lukas Reichel, who was recalled from RockVegas recently) handles the adversity of the waning weeks of a lost season and the chance to play spoiler to teams who are actually going to be playing some meaningful hockey in May.

At least the MLB is firing back up today. Let’s do that Baseball!

 

4/7 vs. Seattle

 

Game Time: 7:30 PM CST

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

Krak Squad: Davy Jones Locker Room

 

If you think this game is meaningless just because both of these teams moved significant pieces of their rosters at the trade deadline to plan for the future, then boy howdy let me tell you that you’re absolutely right. While I’m only being slightly facetious here, the fact is that both the Krak and the Hawks will be using these final weeks of the season as an audition for roster spots in the fall. Both teams will be treating the free agent period this summer as a “pump and dump,” looking for aging talent and reclamation projects that can be signed to 1 year deals and then flipped at the trade deadline this time next season.

For their part, the Kraken have at least made their inaugural season entertaining for the Seattle fans, who have been waiting for something other than the Seahawks to root for since the Sonics packed up their shit and headed for one of the worst states in the union. Prior to shipping off Mark Giordano to a 1st round exit in Toronto and Marcus Johannson to the Caps, the Krak’s forward corps was managing to put up just over 3 goals per game, which for an expansion team with no deigns on competing is actually kind of impressive. Their issue is still on the back end and between the pipes, as the team as a whole has been giving up almost 4 goals per game over the last month and a half. Philip Grubauer and his 3.20 GAA with a .880 save percentage haven’t been helping at all, and essentially tanked his value for what was admittedly a very tepid market for goaltenders at the trade deadline.

 

3/10 vs. Dallas

Game Time: 6:00 PM CST

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

Deep In The Heart of JerryWorld: Defending Big D

The Stars have very quietly been one of the better teams in the Western Conference since the calendar flipped to 2023. They’re a pretty well rounded team, being in the top half of the league (but not TOO much in the top half) in pretty much every available stat category. Stacking all of this up with the very, very good season that Jake “the Otter” Oettinger has put together between the pipes and you get a team that’s not going to make one of the top 3 spots in the conference, but one that should fairly comfortably snag a wild card spot with the games in hand they have over Vegas.

The Stars are also very good at the American Airlines arena down in Dallas, compiling a 22-9-1 mark vs 13-18-5 on the road. That will make their quest to get out of the first round of the playoffs against Calgary or Colorado even more difficult as they’re almost guaranteed to be playing on the road more. What would help their cause would be for Alex Radulov to climb back up the cliff his production flew off of this season. With a mere 17 points in 62 games thus far this year, he hasn’t done much to justify his 6.25 million dollar cap hit, or made much of a case for him to get even the tiniest raise when he hits UFA status in the summer.

 

4/12 vs. Los Angeles

Game Time: 7:30 PM CST

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

Run Them Jewels Fast: Jewels From The Crown

 

The Hawks have a genuine opportunity to play spoiler in this game, as the Kings are clinging to a mere 4 point lead for the 3rd spot in the Pacific division over the Vegas Golden Knights at press time. The Kings have been treading water somewhat since the end of February, basically going slightly over .500 in the month of March. Not wanting to sell the farm to upgrade their roster at the deadline and hamstring their future (stares at Stan Bowman), the Kings were pretty quiet at the trade deadline. Honestly a pretty smart move, as the Pacific division is clearly the weakest out of any in the NHL so their odds of sneaking in and getting a few games in the playoffs are better than a 50/50 shot.

The Kings are one of the better possession teams in the NHL, and a lot of that credit is due to the system installed by former Sharks head coach Todd McClellan. They have one of the better breakouts in the league from their back end, as their D-men are able to push the play off their own blue line and back into the neutral zone pretty consistently. Alex Edler and professional dirtbag Drew Doughty are big reasons for this, as their passing skills are top notch. Old Friend Phillip Danault is here, very quietly being on pace for a 60 point season (stares at Stan Bowman) and has clearly learned quite a bit from Anze Kopitar in his time here with his +15 rating and consistent 57% CORSI share at even strength. He also gets considerable time on the PK, which makes  me want to saw my wrists with a spork even more. I would expect the Kings to come out flying at the Hawks defenders with a pretty strong forecheck (really, every team should do this as the Hawks breakout is a mess when Seth Jones isn’t on the ice) to try and pin them in their own zone and let their cycle go to work. The Kings forecheck and passing vs. Caleb Jones, Riley Still(here for some reason)man and Jake McCabe. I know who my money’s on.

Let’s Go Sox

 

 

 

Hockey

This sucks.

There’s not a lot more I can say really. This is what the beginning of a rebuild really looks like, and we’re going to be stuck here for years to come. And personally, I’m not sure how many more free Lankinen rebounds my frail heart can watch. Rebounds for everyone, everywhere, as many as you can scoop up. And the Hawks defense are not scooping very many of those rebounds up at all. Still waiting for those Beaudin and Mitchell call-ups, by the way. Literally any day now.

In all seriousness, a sincere congrats is in order for Pat Foley in his upcoming retirement. The man has been the voice of the Hawks for as long as most of us can remember, and he will be the hardest voice in hockey to replace. I couldn’t tell you a damned thing about Chris Vosters, the new play-by-play announcer, as the merry-go-round of TV auditions from this year has made all the new people a blur. Next Sunday, Foley and the man himself, Dale Tallon, will be broadcasting their final game together in what will likely be an automatic loss to Dallas. Buckle up for that one, folks.

The good news is that baseball starts this week, so everyone in Chicago can turn their attention towards their respective baseball teams and grumble about everything that’s wrong with those two franchises. Add onto the misery, why don’t we?

Monday 3/28
Hawks 5, Sabres 6
Box Score
Natural Stat Trick

The Hawks have spent years of our collective lives getting bailed out by their goaltenders, most recently in Marc-Andre Fleury. Now that era is over, and we get to watch garbage teams like the Sabres score four unanswered goals on the Hawks to tie it and two more within seconds of each other win the game. Granted, the Hawks defensemen weren’t doing Kevin Lankinen any favors throughout—Erik Gustafsson continues to take years off my life standing in front of the net and doing absolutely nothing to defend multiple Sabres goals, in one case kicking it into his own net. Without elite-level goaltending between the pipes, this team is an utter tire fire.

The Cat was responsible for a powerplay goal over halfway through the 3rd that put the Hawks back on top, but the momentum was all Buffalo’s starting really in the 2nd period, and two more Sabres goals late in the 3rd sealed the fate of the Hawks. Kane had a few solid chances near the end of the 3rd, but he wasn’t able to convert on any of them. The Sabres’ tying goal was a result of the Hawks defensemen being on one side of the ice and Alex Tuch on the other, receiving a pass to shoot at a pretty wide-open net—Tyler Johnson didn’t stand a chance defending that one. Jeff Skinner nearly scored seconds later but a Dylan Strome trip disallowed the goal and put Strome in the penalty box. The Sabres’ winning goal was entirely the fault of Lankinen, and something that an NHL-level goaltender shouldn’t allow. It cost the Hawks a point and the game, but luckily this team has nothing to play for down the stretch.

Thursday 3/31
Hawks 0, Panthers 4
Box Score
Natural Stat Trick

I mean, I’m not sure who actually expected a Hawks win out of this game, but it was still tough to watch our (like it or not) captain Jonathan Toews look like he was having a genuinely horrible time during his 1,000th NHL game. Every eye and metric test imaginable against these two teams show the Panthers as the vastly superior team. This game became another look at how far the Hawks will have to climb to be relevant again. It will be a game and a season that Toews will likely want to forget as his legacy is called into question, fairly or not, after his reaction to the Beach allegations, the trade deadline moves, and other whathaveyous. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who wished for a happier outcome for the Captain tonight.

In other news, this game was dreck to watch. Sergei Bobrovsky completely shut the Hawks down, stopping all 37 shots he faced. On the other end of the ice, Collin Delia, who is not an NHL-caliber goalie, got scored on five times, although a mercy kick-in ruling of Barkov’s goal 40 seconds into the game made it only four goals against. Rebounds, five-holes, and a porous defense (Riley Stillman still sucks) meant the Hawks got lit up all night long.

Friday 4/1
Hawks 2, Lightning 5
Box Score
Natural Stat Trick

Nothing like a shellacking on one night to prepare you for another shellacking the next night. The Lightning may not be playing like the impenetrable force they had been over the last month, but once again the gap between the Hawks and actual Stanley Cup-contending teams was well on display tonight. Not to mention it became a Brandon Hagel revenge game when he scored an empty netter in the dying seconds of the game, which I’m sure made Toews incredibly angry.

The Hawks at least scored in this one, the first goal coming from an unexpected source as Calvin de Haan blasted one home from the point in a play reminiscent of Duncan Keith. The other goal was scored by the Cat (who else?) to tie the game, though it certainly didn’t last long as the Lightning made quick work of the game over the 2nd and 3rd periods. And Tampa Bay’s penalty kill (9th in the league) thwarted the Hawks’ multiple powerplay opportunities almost every time and occasionally leading to an odd-man rush the other way. I truly felt bad for Lankinen—how can you possibly ask him, another fringe NHL goalie, to save some of the plays the Lightning produced?

Sunday 4/3
Hawks 2, Coyotes 3 (Coyotes win despite not having their shit together)
Box Score
Natural Stat Trick

At least this was an overtime loss, but it was still a loss to the Coyotes, the league’s true albatross. The skill level of the opponent compared to the previous two matchups were considerably lower, and the game got to be a bit chippy throughout. Defensive structures for both teams fluctuated from “none at all” to “let’s go six minutes straight without a shot on goal as we fool around in the neutral zone,” which leads to wacky hockey.

Dylan Strome was able to score just a minute into the game to give the Hawks their first lead in who knows how long. And the Hawks didn’t look so bad for the 1st period either, although I must again reiterate that the Coyotes are the league’s albatross. Arizona took over in the 2nd period, however, scoring two goals thanks to an Amy’s Youngest clearing attempt gone terribly wrong, and Calvin de Haan and Jake McCabe both getting pantsed by some guy named Travis Boyd. Not a good look.

Despite Kane tying the game up in the 3rd, the Hawks were unable to put it away in overtime. Instead, it was Shane Ghost Bear who was credited with a goal that actually went in thanks to the skate of Amy’s Eldest, a fitting end to the clown show this week of games has been. Speaking of Ghost Bear, I’m amazed he hasn’t been sent to the land of wind and ghosts considering he took a puck to the throat and a stick to the face this game. That’s hockey, I guess.

Hockey

While most of the luminaries of this site are not fans of the Foo Fighters, I absolutely am. So when the news broke Friday night that drummer Taylor Hawkins had been found dead in his hotel room, my heart dropped down to my knees. I see a LOT of live shows, as concerts are my kryptonite. Most summers I’ll try and attend 10-15 shows at least, from whoever happens to be touring that year. Out of all the bands and shows that I’ve been to, there are few that can match the level of energy or just plain fun that a Foo Fighters show contains. Taylor Hawkins was a huge part of that experience, and his presence behind the kit will be sorely missed if the band decides to continue. Hawkins’ name is added to an impressive list of talent and creativity that has been lost to us over the past 20+ years. While I’ll never have the pleasure of seeing him hammer the drums on the intro to My Hero again, or listen to him cover a Queen tune, I’ll always have the happy memories of all the awesome times I had at his shows. Rest in peace.

 

Also the Hawks played some hockey this week:

 

Wednesday 3/23

Hawks 4 – Ducks 2

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

 

Sometimes there are teams out there that no matter how hard you try, they simply have your number and you can’t beat them. For the Anaheim Ducks, that team is the Hawks. With the win on Wednesday the Hawks have themselves a clean sweep of the series against the Ducks, and the Ducks have themselves an extended off-season to think about how losing 3 games to the Hawks contributed to the eradication of their playoff hopes.

As for the game itself, the Hawks really only controlled the 1st period with a CORSI of 61%, then proceeded to hang on by the skin of their teeth (and some solid goaltending by Kevin Lankinen) in the 2nd and 3rd period with 34% and 40% shares. That’s the kind of domination that usually results in 6-7 goals in a given timeframe (just wait for the Vegas 3rd period recap), but the Hawks managed to somehow keep the Ducks at bay long enough for Dylan Strome to continue his dominant March by pocketing the GWG with 4:00 to go in the 3rd.

The Hawks special teams were helpful here as well, with their first 2 goals coming on the man advantage (Raddysh with a Y…many people are saying it) and the PK blanking the Duck’s power play on their one attempt. This is the kind of win we’re gonna see a lot of going forward, with the Hawks getting owned on the possession side of things but somehow eking out 2 points thanks to decent goaltending and some timely goals by high caliber forwards like Kane and Cat.

 

Thursday 3/24

Hawks 4 – Kings 3 (Hawks Win Goat Rodeo)

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

 

With the mishmash of talent on the back end, the Blackhawks breakout of their own zone is a disaster right now. What that results in is them getting skulled in CORSI night in and night out. What they DO have that most teams don’t is Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat (and also Seth Jones as well), who can singlehandedly ignore whatever forecheck the opposing team is pressing them with and go end to end to put the puck in the net. This is exactly what happened in this game, as the Hawks got fucking smoked in the possession department (31%, 32%, 42% CORSI) and yet managed to score a win in the shootout despite all that. Kane and DeBrincat both tallied (along with Sam Lafferty somehow, who isn’t quite “a thing” but bears watching going forward) to help the Hawks overcome miserable play by the special teams unit. Colin Delia was fine in this one, not looking terrible but also not amazing as he kept the Kings off the board during the juggling competition in OT.

They can’t all be beautiful, and when the West Coast has typically been a house of horrors for your team you take what you can get and move on.

 

Saturday 3/26

Hawks 4 – Knights 5 (OT)

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick 

This one stings.

With Vegas missing both goalies AND about 4 top players on their front and back ends, going up 3-0 after two on this squad with a chance to put a nail in their playoff coffin then coughing it up is a bummer. Kevin Lankinen did himself no favors by allowing a very soft goal to start the shenanigans rolling  less than 60 seconds into the 3rd period. Once that happened, you could feel the air go out of the Hawks tires as the Knights smelled blood in the water. Less than 5 minutes later it was 4-4 as the Hawks were just trying to get into OT and salvage the disaster the game had become.

They had plenty of chances, too. With Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat bearing down on rookie goalie Logan Thompson in OT, only to have the puck skip over Cat’s stick into the boards. Dylan Strome had a chance a few seconds later only to be stoned by Thompson (who, credit where it’s due, did an admirable job stopping some seriously high danger chances from Strome, Kane and The Cat). Ultimately it was the guy Vegas had tried to trade away only days earlier firing the GWG home after Kane, Strome and Jones got stuck out there for an extended period of time and were completely gassed.

 

In the end, taking 5 of a possible 6 points on a West Coast road swing is absolutely considered a success. As the Hawks move into full on rebuild mode, you have to enjoy these games while you can as the next time they show up in Vegas the roster may look considerably different than it does now. Same can be said for the outcome. So much to look forward to!

Hockey

The rebuild is officially underway, what with the Hawks trading away Brandon Hagel, Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Carpenter before Monday’s deadline, which was accurately summarized by McClure in the wrap last night. I was surprised there wasn’t a fire sale akin to the level of the 2021 Cubs, although Kubalik, de Haan and even Strome probably couldn’t have fetched the level of returns that some of the Cubs did, theoretically. However, I’d consider late-round picks better than letting some of these guys walk for nothing, which will be in the plans for de Haan at the very least, as we around here continue to wonder when the hell we’re going to see Nicolas Beaudin and Ian Mitchell back in the NHL now that we’re playing for nothing.

Yes, there’s still hockey to be played this season, amazingly. And a Hawks lineup without Hagel, Fleury and perhaps a disinterested and checked-out Toews will not be fun to watch. The Hawks have an easier matchup tonight with fellow deadline sellers, the Anaheim Ducks, before facing more difficult matchups against playoff-contending teams like the Kings and the tire fire Golden Knights later this week.

3/23 at Anaheim

Game Time: 9:00 PM CT
TV/Radio: TNT, WGN 720
Day Was Gonna Come When I Was Gonna Mourn Ya: Anaheim Calling

This website wouldn’t be called Faxes from Uncle Dale if we weren’t going to laugh at a GM not reading the fine fucking print. It was not the fault of Ducks GM Pat Verbeek, however—his team instead had the front row seat for the Vegas Golden Knights trying to somersault their way out of the cap hell they find themselves in (more on that later). I’m sure Verbeek won’t be losing sleep over not receiving Evgenii Dadonov, some AHL player and the ghost of Ryan Kesler from the Knights once this trade doesn’t go through. Plus, the Ducks had a selloff of their own at the trade deadline to start this week, moving out older vets on expiring contracts who we all know and love: Hampus! Hampus!, Rickard Rakell, Josh Manson and Nic Deslauriers are no longer part of the club.

The Ducks have the kickstart to the rebuild that Kyle Davidson can only dream of in our current state: two 1st-rounders and two 2nd-rounders in the 2022 draft, plus two 1st-rounders and five 2nd-rounders for the two drafts after that. Now that there’s nothing to play for in Anaheim (outside of watching Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras, I guess), Ducks fans, like the Hawks, can pray their shiny new GM doesn’t fuck some of these draft picks up and they get back into contention sooner rather than later.

3/24 at LA

Game Time: 9:00 PM CT
TV/Radio: ESPN+/Hulu, WGN 720
Los Angeles, Come Scam Me Please: Jewels from the Crown

Unlike the dumpster fire the Blackhawks organization has been for the past 6 years, the Kings were able to rebuild on the fly from their Cup teams, finding themselves snugly in 2nd place in the Pacific Division and positioned for the playoffs (and I have no trust that the Oilers will catch up to them, frankly). It’s likely they don’t go far in the postseason considering they aren’t exactly offensive juggernauts and they’re likely poised to get crushed by Colorado or Calgary or even Minnesota now that they have cemented their goaltending with Fleury. But postseason time can be invaluable to younger players, especially Quinton Byfield, who had two goals in a big win against the Predators last night. The Kings are the 6th-youngest team in the NHL, and getting a taste of playoff hockey will help inspire their young players to get back there again and win.

The Kings were quiet at the trade deadline, despite notable jackass Drew Doughty recently getting injured and the timetable for his return being a big mystical secret—yet another reason why this team likely won’t go too far in the playoffs. Someone has to play on the right side, however, so they acquired Troy Stecher from Detroit to ensure they could put a warm body on the ice. His career so far has been “meh”, and he seems to average multiple giveaways a game so I’d like to see the Hawks capitalize on that if possible.

3/26 at Vegas

Game Time: 2:00 PM CT
TV/Radio: ESPN+/ABC, WGN 720
Ride the Snake:
Knights on Ice

Perhaps the impending doom of the Vegas Golden Knights shouldn’t be so amusing to me, but it’s been telenovela levels of drama swirling around this organization for months as they literally cling to dear life for the final wild card spot in the West, despite Dallas being only a point behind them with four games in hand.

The Knights are, hilariously, in desperate need of goaltending after picking the wrong half of their previous season’s tandem in Marc-Andre Fleury to trade away. The reports are saying Robin Lehner could be out the rest of the season because of a lower body injury, leaving the Knights with Logan Thompson (young and unproven) and Laurent Brossoit (middling at best) to tend net into the playoffs, if they even get that far (they won’t). They were unable to add a goaltender at the trade deadline to help them out, as I am sure Fleury gave them the finger if Kelly McCrimmon even had the balls to ring up Davidson and ask about his services.

Meanwhile, arguably their best player in Mark Stone continues to sit on LTIR until the playoffs since the Knights are up against their cap ceiling and then some after trading for Jack Eichel. (Seriously, look at their CapFriendly page, it’s a fucking disaster.) The city nearly had a meltdown when Eichel left the game last Thursday after blocking a shot with his hand, and despite him returning for a game against the Kings, it sounds like there’s probably definitely something wrong with his hand that he is just gutting through, which certainly doesn’t bode well for the future, or playoff success in general, as the curse of Jack Eichel continues.

All this and the Hawks as currently constructed are still no match for this team. This could get ugly, folks.

Hockey

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.

 

Hockey

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.