Hockey

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

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

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

3/8 vs. Anaheim

Game Time: 7:30PM CT
TV / Radio:
NBCSCH, WGN 720
Let me welcome everybody to the wild, wild west:
Anaheim Calling

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

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

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

3/10 @ Boston

Game Time: 6:00 PM CT
TV/Radio:
NBCSCH / WGN 720
Jackass Forever Named After Brad Marchand:
Cup of Chowder

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

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

3/12 @ Ottawa

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

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

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

Hockey

The Hawks continue to suck out loud and for some reason we all continue to watch this team limp slowly toward the finish line that is the end of this season. Despite a faux reprieve from offensive terribleness on Friday with a double hat trick win against the disastrous Devils, it was bookended with two horrible losses against actually contending teams, the Panthers and Blues, successfully washing away any optimism that could possibly surround this team.

The real news around these parts is that they ripped off Kyle Davidson’s “interim” tag like a Band-Aid to name him the permanent GM over Mathieu Darche and some shmuck from the Cubs (hey, how about you fix my baseball team’s on-field product before you try to switch sports?). People are justifiably skeptical about the whole situation, which is understandable, but personally I’m still thanking God that Peter Chiarelli is not the Blackhawks GM—what a scare. Davidson has been able to take a deeper look internally at what this team is missing over the past four months, something the other two GM candidates haven’t been able to do, and theoretically this means he won’t fuck things up come the trade deadline.

In case you were trying to block it from your mind, the Hawks have needs in a lot of areas: drafting, prospects, goaltending, any amount of offense at all, way less infinitely replaceable clones that can only play bottom-six positions, a permanent head coach, and maybe a better player development department as Kirby Dach becomes a giant red flag to more and more people. It all begins at this year’s trade deadline at the end of the month, where any amount of wheeling and dealing could be done by Davidson that could make us see the departures of Kubalik, de Haan, Fleury, Strome—honestly fuck it, who isn’t available at this point besides Kane, Toews and the Cat?

Anyway, we have some games this weekend to preview, and it’ll probably end ugly.

3/2 vs. Edmonton

Game Time – 7:30PM CT

TV/Radio – NBCSCH / WGN 720

It Is Better to Live One Day as a Lion Than 1,000 Days as a Lamb – Copper N Blue

The Edmonton Oilers have briefly taken a stop off of the Hot Mess Express ever since Dave Tippett got canned for letting his team get beaten by…well, the Hawks. Since his firing, the Oilers have gone 7-3 in their last 10, clinging to dear life to the final Wild Card spot they currently hold for the West. Oilers fans shield their eyes and pretend not to notice they were able to harvest wins from crappy teams such as the Islanders, Sharks, Kings and struggling Ducks, whereas nearly all of their matchups against contending teams in this stretch have led to losses. It’s mostly because Oilers GM Ken Holland has quite possibly ruined everything by not signing a competent goaltender. Once again I must assume that this team might try to make something work out to bring Fleury to Alberta, though why Fleury would want to go there is beyond me.

In other news, two of the greatest Hawks defensemen of all time, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith, return to the United Center tonight in what will likely be an emotional affair. Had things worked out differently and if the front office hadn’t completely soiled the legacy of the 2010 team forever, the place would be packed and there would be positive vibes abound. Understandably, some fans may not want to see or hear tribute videos to anyone associated with that era, but I am personally pushing some of that aside for now as there hasn’t been a negative story about Niklas Hjalmarsson since I’ve been following the team. The man was a shot-blocking legend, a minutes-eater, and probably one of the best defensive defensemen of his era. His recognition is well-deserved and he seems like a good guy.

Keith will be honored in a smaller own way tomorrow, though he’ll be on the opposing team with the Oilers. Keith is my favorite Hawk of all time—he literally sacrificed seven teeth in the name of the sport, of winning the Stanley Cup, and whether or not you think that’s something worth sacrificing, you have to respect his dedication to the craft. That dedication has made it so he is still playing in the NHL at 38 years old, and he’s not doing so terrible, no matter what you may hear from Oilers fans. He’s having better numbers in Edmonton both offensively and defensively than he had with the Hawks last year; take a look at Natural Stat Trick.

Of course the great Boomer Gordon’s theory about ceremony games meaning automatic losses to the home team will probably come true, so expect a Blackhawks loss.

3/5 at Philadelphia

Game Time – 2:00 PM CT

TV/Radio – ESPN+, ABC / WGN 720

It’s Like When I’m Doing Good In The Game, I’m Doing Good In Life. – Broad Street Hockey

The Flyers are doing much, much worse than even the Hawks are at this point of the season, at find themselves in the basement of the Metro and continuing a similar aimless march toward the trade deadline. In this city, it is longtime captain and center dot staple Claude Giroux on the chopping block. Giroux, as old as Patrick Kane, is still a team leader in goals, points, even-strength goals, OPS and faceoff percentage. Trading him away would be…well, how much worse could it get? They’re also trying to deal Keith Yandle, who is at a team-worst -32 for the year and his other defensive metrics are just as terrifying, so good luck with that.

Flyers fans are probably excited that Carter Hart has had a bounce-back goaltending year from last season, although that just means he’s been putting up a middling .912 save percentage and a 2.87 GAA. For the Flyers, however, it’s better than the alternative, as Martin Jones has lost his last eight starts to teams like Buffalo, San Jose, LA and the Islanders. He also hasn’t started since February 22, but considering their schedule he might be in the crease against the Hawks just to give Hart some rest between games against more talented teams like Minnesota and Vegas.

3/6 vs. Tampa Bay

Game Time – 6:00 PM CT

TV/Radio – NHLN, NBCSCH / WGN 720

Are You Really Sure You Want To Watch This Slaughtering? – Raw Charge

Tampa Bay is once again really goddamn good, currently atop the Atlantic Division with 76 points, good for 3rd in the league. The Lightning are also currently on a 5-game win streak and considering they only have to play the Penguins and Red Wings before facing the Hawks, it’s very likely that streak will be extended to 7 when they arrive at the United Center on Sunday.

Despite the Lightning not being offensive analytic darlings like their cross-state rivals the Panthers or the even teams like the Avalanche out west, they allow the second-least shots in the league because of their solid defense and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have one of the league’s most reliable goaltenders in Andrei Vasilevskiy between the pipes every night.

The Lightning are also finally healthy, as it seems only Zach Bogosian is on injury report list, and he won’t be missed too much. Steven Stamkos at 32 is also top on the team in goals, points, powerplay goals, the whole nine yards—as usual. Nikita Kucherov is 9th on the team in points so far this season after he spent nearly all of last season on IR, but that’s fine with Lightning fans since he usually pops off in the playoffs when the games matter most. The Hawks are outmatched and outclassed up and down the lineup against this team, and I do not have high hopes for this game by any means.

Hockey

As the wheels continue to fall off for the Hawks and the trade deadline looms ever closer, we’re left to consider what, exactly, any of us are doing here. It’s been a very long time since I’ve felt this level of hopelessness in conjunction with this team. The front office is a tire fire, and the shine has worn off the Nü Coach with the team struggling to score night in and night out. The deadline deals might bring some of the interest back, until you realize that any pieces that the Hawks get in return are more likely than not going to be years away from being anything.

This is truly the doldrums of Hawks Fandom, and it’s very reminiscent of the period of time after the White Sox had ripped the band aid off and sent Chris Sale and everyone else worth anything (also Adam Eaton) to the East Coast. The initial excitement of all the shiny new prospects wore off and you were left with the realization that the next few years were just gonna suck ass. In this instance, however, the Hawks don’t have a Chris Sale on their team to flip so the excitement level about the return will be tempered considerably.

Anyways, here’s whos on tap for the weekend:

 

2/25 vs. New Jersey

Game Time: 7:30 PM CST

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

Kevin Smith Says Hi: All About The Jersey 

 

Oh, shit! A team that’s lower on the ladder than the Hawks.

Much like the residents at 1901 West Madison, the New Jersey Devils are looking towards the horizon and the future that it brings. More specifically, what type of return the Devils could conceivably get at the trade deadline for some of their available players. Unlike the Hawks, however, the Devils have a solid young core of players that are a year away (perhaps two) from making some serious noise in the East. Jack Hughes is obviously the prize horse of that group, but the rest aren’t anything to sneeze at either. 2017 #1 overall pick Nico Hischier has made serious strides this season in his game defensively to go along with his offensive talent (on pace to top his previous point total by 20+). The Devils might also have something in Jesper Bratt. The Swede has turned up his offensive game this year, already surpassing his previous career high in points by 11. Some of this is due to his increased presence on the power play, but his even strength game has matched his progress with his average CORSI up to 55% from 42% last season.

On the defensive end, PK Subban and freshly minted #1 d-man Dougie Hamilton hold down the fort. Offensively Subban is having somewhat of a down year (which isn’t helping his trade value), but he’s still able to push the play from his own end. Hamilton has been as advertised, chipping in 20 points on offense and still being able to play strong from the blue line. Behind them things get pretty dicey, as the goaltending for the Devils is some of the worst in the league. Jonathan Bernier signed a 2 year deal to be the bridge goalie for NJ until the netminder of the future arrived, but he went on IR back in December with what can only be termed “Shit Hip.” A month later, his season was over as he went under the knife. His replacements have garnered a sub .900 save percentage and a 3+ GAA in his absence, and there’s not much PK Subban or Dougie Hamilton can do about that. If the Hawks can up their shot total from 7 per period to double digits, they stand a decent chance of potting at least 3 in this one.

 

2/27 vs. Blues (AGAIN)

Gametime: 2:00 PM CST

TV / Radio –  HULU, NBCSN, WGN-AM 720

Wretched Hive Of Scum And VillainySTL Gametime

Look, other than the start time and the fact that the game is in Chicago this time absolutely nothing has changed since the last time these two teams met. Well, I guess the gap inbetween the two teams point totals has expanded, but other than that it’s the same ole shit. Two weeks ago the Blues completely waxed a Hawks team that was right on the precipice of the cliff that they now find themselves at the bottom of. The Blues are still a much better team offensively, defensively and behind the bench. The only wild card is Marc-Andre Fleury, who is still singlehandedly capable of stealing games. Which is essentially what the Hawks need here to escape Sunday with any points, but I’m not gonna hold my breath.

 

Hockey

I was hoping for at least one Hawks win this weekend, but that became too much to ask when the team flubbed it against the Blue Jackets Thursday night. Once again a lack of offense, a powerplay sucking at loud, and Patrick Kane not giving a shit in February did the Hawks in. Recap time, I guess.

2/17
Hawks 4, Blue Jackets 7
Box
Natural Stat Trick

On the front end of a back-to-back and with the Blue Jackets being one of the more terrible teams in the league, it was time for Fleury to take a seat in favor of young goaltender Arvid Soderblom. He was able to stop an onslaught of chances from the Jackets in the first seven minutes of the game, but unfortunately he showed his greenness when he gave up a goal on a rebound thanks to a Blue Jackets powerplay opportunity. And then a second goal just seconds later (shoutout to the horrific Erik Gustafsson giveaway that could’ve been prevented). He gave up five more goals, including a Patrik Laine hat trick, before the game was over. A flurry of them were his own fault, though many were the result of the Hawks being incredibly lazy when it came to defending their own zone.

The Hawks got goals from Philipp Kurashev, Ryan Carpenter, Mackenzie Entwhistle, and The Cat (most offensive-minded players were taking the night off). But the real story that came from this game is what the future of the goaltending for this team should be. No way Fleury stays, and it’s become incredibly clear the Hawks can’t trot out Lankinen and Soderblom or whoever as the starters next year. (Lankinen’s contract ends this season anyway.) You’d think they’d be on the market for a goaltender, but then you look at the 2022 free agents available and…well, ah jeez.

2/18
Blackhawks 0, Stars 1 (Stars Win Absolute Snoozefest)
Box
Natural Stat Trick

The morning of this game, the Hawks announced a flurry of roster moves. Fearless leader Jonathan Toews, although spotted Friday morning at the optional practice and on the ice, was placed on IR retroactive to his head injury on Jan. 26 and The Only Sure-Fire Prospect in the Entire Organization Lukas Reichel was called up yet again for the Hawks and placed right on the top line with Kane and Hagel.

Reichel’s game wasn’t terrible for his 3rd NHL game; he was hustling, winning board battles and generating chances in the 1st period before getting rocked over the visiting boards and getting himself stripped of the puck by Alex Radulov of all people in the 2nd. The Hawks had a surprisingly high CF% in the 1st period at over 70%, and Kane’s give-a-shit meter even seemed to be up higher than usual for the entire 1st period before things seemed to drop off for him. The Cat’s defensive skills were also great to see, as he kept pucks in and set up plays for Strome and Kubalik.

Unfortunately, none of these chances ended up in any goals scored, which is more of the usual for this team despite the “burst” of offense we saw from them the night before. And even though they had some good chances at the end of the game, the Hawks don’t have any finishing power and were lucky to pick up a point at all. It was mostly because of the heroics from Fleury in net—what else is new?

After an entertaining overtime and six rounds of a shootout, Jason Peterson won it for the Stars, despite Fleury doing all he could to drag this team to a win. Maybe you shouldn’t choose Jake McCabe in a shootout situation? Just a thought.

2/20
Hawks 2, Panthers 5
Box
Natural Stat Trick

Despite starting out horrifically with Kirby Dach allowing a Panthers breakaway seconds into the game because he didn’t have his stick on the ice, the 1st period saw the Hawks outshoot and out-posses the Panthers 8-3 and 66%-33%. Although the Panthers struck first on only their 3rd shot of the game thanks in part to Patrick Kane not feeling like playing defense, Kane decided to make up for it with just a few seconds left in the period by scoring from below the goal line, the puck bouncing off the back of Sergei Bobrovksy and into the back of the net.

The Panthers must’ve gotten absolutely and rightfully berated during the 1st intermission, because the 2nd period was much more what we expected out of both the Hawks and the Panthers. With the Panthers dominating the possession game, they were able to take the lead thanks to a shot from the blueline in which Fleury was screened by both Seth Jones and Calvin de Haan together. Sam Lafferty had a similarly Laff-able period, filled with multiple turnovers and a missed shot on a wide-open net.

It didn’t take long for the Panthers to get their commanding 3-1 lead thanks in part once again to Dach tipping the puck in past Fleury with his own stick. (This will certainly be a game Dach will want to forget as much as we will.) Fleury made as many saves as he could in the 3rd to keep the Hawks in it, and he had some help from a coach’s challenge to keep it 3-1 in the 3rd, and a surprise goal from Amy’s Youngest made the game seem close for a minute or so. But then two empty-net goals at the end of the period cemented the Hawks’ fate. This outcome is about what we expected, especially considering the Panthers are the NHL’s top offensive team and the Hawks are…well, basement-tier.

My parting words for the weekend? Fuck Radko Gudas.

Hockey

A successful, if unspectacular stretch of games for the Hawks this Valentines’ week as they were able to bookend two wins in Canada with an absolute turd of an effort down in The Lou for the middle frame. During all of this actual hockey being played (how many people were actually playing attention with the Olympics going on and the Bulls being awesome is anyone’s guess), news leaked out that the Hawks were looking to get an insane return from teams inquiring about the services and availability of one Brandon Hagel. The return in question (according to Frank Seravalli in the Daily Faceoff Rundown podcast) is apparently a first round pick and a top prospect, which to me is absolutely mind boggling.

Look, don’t get me wrong. Brandon Hagel is a very solid young player on a Very Not Good team. Were he to be traded to Colorado or Vegas at the deadline he would be a very solid 3rd or 4th line player. Teams don’t trade first round picks and/or top prospects to fill out their 3rd line, no matter how young and cap friendly he may be. At 23 years old (24 when next season rolls around), is he the kind of player you build around for the future? His 27 points in 46 games is a nice addition, but if the Hawks are turning down 2nd and 3rd round picks for a guy they essentially picked up off waivers when the cupboard is completely bare is asinine to me. Not having a permanent GM at the trade deadline is also extremely asinine, but the Hawks aren’t one to be told what is dumb and what isn’t.

Anyways, TO THE RECAP:

 

2/9

Hawks 4 – Oilers 1

BOX SCORE

Natural Stat Trick

 

Guess signing Evander Kane wasn’t the kick in the pants the Oilers thought it would be, eh?

The Hawks jumped right into the Oil’s shit from the get go, with Patrick Kane firing a nifty cross ice feed to DeBrincat, who ripped it right past Professional Crybaby Mike Smith giving the Hawks their first of two power play goals on the night. It was all set up by the hard work of Sam Lafferty, who drew the tripping penalty after outworking Nugent-Hopkins. A minute later the aforementioned Brandon Hagel doubled up the Hawks lead when DeBrincat saucered a cross ice pass of his own during a 3 on 2 rush.

The 2nd period was all about Marc-Andre Fleury, as the Oil emptied everything in the chamber at him. Edmonton dropped 20 shots on MAF in the 2nd, with only Leon “Why So Pissy” Draisaitl’s power play tally sneaking past him. As expected, the Hawks got absolutely annihilated in CORSI in the second period to the tune of 75% to 25%. They supposedly had 6 shots in the period but I can’t honestly remember any of them. Predictably, Edmonton folded like a cheap tent after Strome put one past Smith in the first minute of the 3rd, with Fleury in no serious danger the rest of the way. Shit, even Kirby Dach scored a goal, which tells you everything you need to know about the state of hockey in Edmonton right now. Good win.

 

2/12

Hawks 1- Blues 5

BOX SCORE

Natural Stat Trick

 

This game fucking sucked. The team clearly didn’t give a shit from word go, and they got smoked in every facet of the game up and down the ice. Even Marc-Andre Fleury had the “Not Interested” sign hanging from his helmet. The Blues exposed the Hawks every weakness as a team, and capitalized on every mistake. When the Hawks needed a push in the 3rd to try and get back in the game, the Blues dominated CORSI 82%-18%. It pains me to say it, but they’re just better than the Hawks at everything, and it’s gonna be that way for a long while.

 

2/14

Hawks 3 – Jets 1

BOX SCORE

Natural Stat Trick

 

They can’t all be edge of your seat thrillers. Sometimes during an 82 game marathon, there are just going to be games that are flat out boring. Through the first half of this one, that’s exactly what happened. Just ask Ben Pope:

Really, nothing of note happened until Patrick Kane used a screen by Kirby Dach to rifle one 5 hole on Connor HellBuick. After that brief moment of excitement, things went quiet again until Mark Scheifele tapped in a puck that hit approximately 32 people on the way to the cage off the stick of Nate Schmidt six minutes into the final period. Then Alex DeBrincat decided he’d had enough of this bullshit and gave the Hawks a lead they wouldn’t give up with this absolutely disgusting snipe:

Stan Bowman did a lot of dumbass shit while he was here, but drafting Top Cat was definitely not one of those things. Anyways, shortly thereafter, Fleury helped himself out by shooting an outlet pass to Kane who tapped it up to Hagel for the ENG, thus bringing the game to a close. You really can’t complain about the win, but this game was exactly what you’d expect with two bottom of the table teams dry humping their way through 60 minutes of hockey. The Jets won the possession battle 54-46%, but they don’t have DeBrincat or Marc-Andre Fleury, so fuck em. Moving on.

Hockey

After Rocky’s pants-shitting at the town hall the other day, my give-a-shit level about this team has reached “Patrick Kane in Late February” territory. Yet still here I am writing about them, so I don’t quite know if that says more about me than Rocky but whatever. Some hockey is better than none I suppose.

These first 3 games out of the gate post-All Star break feature 2 Canadian reschedules bookending a trip to the Purina Factory down in St. Louis. After the aforementioned town hall shenanigans it’s probably best that the team opens up on the road so they can attempt to concentrate on just playing hockey and not dealing with the fallout of their evil Keebler Elf owner’s tirade.

With Alex DeBrincat’s solid showing at the All Star festivities in Vegas, the Hawks look to start the back half of the season out on a high note. Standing in their way are two underperforming Canadian teams and one offensive juggernaut from St. Louis. Here’s hoping the time off did Toews and Kane good, as the Hawks are desperate for scoring from wherever they can get it.

 

2/9 @ Edmonton 

Game Time: 7:00 PM CST

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

#FreeMcDavid: Copper N Blue

 

Man, shit has been rough in Edmo since Christmas. With a 5-8 record after Boxing Day, the Oilers spent the entire month of January getting their skulls cracked in, culminating in the amazing press conference where Canadian “hockey journalist” Jim Matheson asked Leon Draisatl why he was “being so pissy” after having to sit through his idiotic questions.

Oh, and they signed Evander Kane after the Sharks got rid of him before the Vegas Good Squads came to kneecap him and leave him for dead in the Nevada desert.

So things haven’t been very rosy for the Oil since the calendar flipped to 2022. They managed to string together a few wins before the Knights completely ethered them 4-0 heading into the all star break. What type of team the Hawks will see is anyone’s guess, but with 2 of the best players in the multiverse on their roster (even if McDavid has a wonky knee right now) Marc-Andre Fleury will have to be on his game to keep them off of the scoresheet. Regardless of how the game goes, Edmonton may end up with the last laugh if the Hawks brass continues to shoot themselves in the dick and hire Peter Chiarelli as their new GM.

 

2/12 @ St. Louis

Gametime: 7:00 CST

TV / Radio – NBCSN, WGN-AM 720

Wretched Hive Of Scum And VillainySTL Gametime

 

This game will not be pretty. We’ve reached the point where the Blues are simply a more “put together” team than the Hawks are, and outside of Alex DeBrincat and maybe Patrick Kane (if he gives a shit) the Hawks just don’t have the firepower to keep up with STL. Jordan Kyrou continues to tear a hole in the atmosphere with his play, and fresh off his first All Star appearance I’m sure he’ll be looking to continue that trend.

It’s not just Kyrou the Hawks have to be aware of, however. While the Blues still can’t completely get away from their special brand of Stupid, they’re definitely a more high powered team than we’re used to seeing. They have 7 skaters with double-digit goal totals, and Vlad Tarasenko has regained the form he lost after missing a shitload of time with multiple shoulder surgeries. Between him, Kyrou, Barbashev and Buchnevich there’s just too much to have to pay attention to.

In net, Jordan Binnington hasn’t been setting the world on fire with his .900 save percentage and 3+ GAA, but Ville Husso (yet another Finnish goalie. Suomi!) has more than picked up the slack with his .940 and 1.91 GAA and is pretty close to claiming the top spot in what has suddenly become a tandem effort.

Also Brandon Saad is here, which hurts me to my core.  *sad trombone*

 

2/14 @ Winnipeg (AKA North Grand Forks)

Gametime: 8:00 CST

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

Middle Of Nowhere: Arctic Ice Hockey

 

I’ll never forget how much my buddy Matt hated people from Winnipeg when I went to college in Grand Forks. He was a bartender, and despised working the one weekend a month when they all piled into their RV and drove south to GFK to shop at Walmart (because the Canadian dollar was more valuable at the time) because they didn’t tip for shit. This preview is for you, Matt Hammond.

Anyways, the Jets suck slightly less than the Hawks do. As of right now they sit 6 points up on them with 3 games in hand but are 7 points out of the last wild card spot. Which in Gary Bettman’s NHL may as well be 40, with Loser Points for everyone. Kyle Connor has officially turned into “a thing” as the 2015 1st round pick of the Jets has done nothing but rake at the NHL level since being drafted and may end up being the Jets best choice of all time.

Unfortunately for The Peg, it’s him and Mark Scheifele and not much else. The Jets are mired in the bottom 3rd of the league with the Hawks for 5 on 5 goal scoring despite being 10th in the league in CORSI for. While some of that may be due for a market correction (the team as a whole is top 10 in most advanced stats, but bottom 3rd in shooting percentage), it may simply just be a bad luck year for the Jets forward corps. With Connor HellBuick having a merely average year, most nights the Jets don’t score enough to run with the higher level teams in the west like the Avs and Knights. What they have will most likely be enough against the Hawks, however. Though that’s not exactly something to brag about these days.

 

Hockey

The Hawks continue to be physically incapable of not stepping in it, both on the ice and off. They’ve lost 6 of their last 7, essentially no-showing it against both the Canucks and Wild this week, finding themselves ahead of only the Coyotes in the Central Division—and it would be a stretch to even call Arizona a pro hockey team, if we’re being honest.

And yet, the actual news surrounding this team as of late was Rocky’s outburst at the town hall press conference before Wednesday’s game against the Wild, which cemented him to Moron status for life on this fair website. I genuinely have no idea what the fuck Rocky thought was going to be asked in the organ-I-zation’s first press conference since the Kyle Beach story permanently changed the landscape of this team and the NHL as a whole? I also have no idea why the fuck he didn’t have a prepared statement, even to just read it halfheartedly off a teleprompter like he did to begin the presser? Really, all he had to do was say nothing, because the first question wasn’t even directed at him. You’d think that would be something he’d be good at doing, considering what went down with his players and coach under his leadership. Maybe he’s just mad that all his pals in the old guard got justifiably canned?

No matter what his intentions, his reaction and his half-assed press release apology means the Hawks continue to be the center of the NHL’s biggest shitstorm, as more and more Hawks fans seem to be leaving the team for good. It shows that Rocky hasn’t learned, and that Rocky likely doesn’t care about learning. And as long as Rocky is at the helm, I won’t be handing over any more money to this team.

As much as the on-ice product continues to pale in comparison to what’s happening off the ice, this is usually the week’s wrap, and games were indeed played, though if you missed them you’d be in the majority. And it seems like the players on the ice have a similar “I-don’t-give-a-shit” attitude, getting outscored 8-1 this week. The only player who seemed to show any emotion was Marc-Andre Fleury every time he gave up a goal. Which happened often. No thanks to the defense, which seemed flat-footed and lethargic for most of this week.

Kirby Dach was nothing special these games either, going -4 for the week with of course no points and really thriving in his New and Improved role as Checking Center on this team by getting consistently steamrolled by Canucks Monday night, as checking centers do. Look, the poor kid wasn’t in control of where he got drafted, but dear God, letting him believe that he isn’t a goal scorer cannot possibly be the answer. His confidence is obviously shot, and since this team seems to have no success developing scorers of any kind, who knows if the answer even lies here?

It’s all such an epic clusterfuck, in every sense of the word, that I am genuinely not sure where we go from here. We have one sure-fire prospect in the entire organization. And that prospect is likely ready for the NHL, but the Hawks are keeping him down in Rockford, probably so they don’t have to say they have zero sure-fire prospects in the entire organization. Derek King is the interim coach, but Marc Crawford is the real Man Behind the Curtain with an abusive history himself. Oh, and maybe Peter Chiarelli will be the next Blackhawks GM, because if you think things couldn’t possibly get any worse, they always can. The Hawks are attempting to rebuild the team in all facets, but how do they expect to do it when no player, GM or coach in his right mind would sign here after everything that’s gone on over the last year?

The All-Star Break couldn’t have come at a better time—I think just about every Hawks fan needs a break right about now. We’ll be back next week, perhaps with the regularly scheduled programming.

Hockey

Sometimes there is victory in defeat. The two games against the Avalanche proved that this week, as the Hawks played them extremely well and yet ended up on the short end of the stick both times. On the other end of that spectrum was the flaming clown car that was Wednesday night’s game against the Scum, where defense was treated completely optional in favor of a track meet up and down the ice. Ultimately the Hawks only took 2 of a possible 6 points in this stretch, which dumps them even further down the cliff that is the Western Conference Playoff Picture.  Time has almost run out for the Hawks playoff hopes, and it’s time for the team to cement their direction for the future of the franchise by installing whoever they decide to be the new GM because there are decisions that need to be made. This is the way.

 

1/24

Hawks 0 – Avalanche 2

BOX SCORE

Natural Stat Trick

 

This was actually one of the better road games the Hawks had played in quite awhile, and yet when you’re outgunned like they were you can’t afford to make any mistakes. The Hawks made 2, and they both ended up in the back of the net. Not much else you can say about these two teams, other than the Avs are considerably more talented on both sides of the ice. They were able to keep possession of the puck for lengths at a time (53% and 55% CORSI in the first 2 periods), while limiting the Hawks to a one and done anytime they were able to get in the Colorado zone. Pavel Francouz (real name) didn’t have much to do to secure his 3rd career shutout as the Hawks were only able to get 24 shots on net, and only 10 of them were of the high danger variety.

The Avs are on a heater right now, as they’re 18-1-2 in their past 21 games, and unbeaten at home since Thanksgiving. The Hawks skated right into the buzzsaw, and I have to give them credit for the effort they put forth. They could’ve packed it in after Rantanen’s goal in the 3rd, but they poured it on and actually owned the possession battle 53-47%. DeBrincat was his usual amazing self, with 3 shots on goal and a tasty 57% CORSI rating. Connor Murphy also deserves some credit, with 3 shots of his own and a stunning 74% rating. The Hawks took 12 shots to the Avs 4 when he was on the ice, and it’s nights like tonight where his trade value will never be higher. That being said, we have no idea who will be behind the wheel when it actually comes time to make those trades, so it may be a moot point.

 

1/26

Hawks 8 (LOL) – Scum 5

BOX SCORE

Natural Stat Trick

 

I have no idea what the fuck this game was supposed to be, but it ended up being the hockey equivalent of snorting a mound of cocaine and riding a roller coaster for 60 minutes. You really can’t bother looking at the advanced stats for this one, as both teams just said “fuck it” and decided they were gonna treat team defense like Qaron Rodgers and Tyler Bertuzzi treat scientific information. The Hawks jumped out to a 4-0 lead on the back of some quality offensive play by Dylan Strome, who had 2 goals and 1 assist in that span. Adding on a tally from Kubalik and Sam Lafferty’s first goal as a Hawk, heading into the dressing room up 4-0 after 1 you’d figure that would pretty much be it for the night, right?

RIGHT?

Nope. The Wings came out flying in the 2nd after pulling Alex Nedeljkovic for Calvin Pickard, scoring 2 less than a minute apart and then potting one with 13 seconds left in the period. The Hawks couldn’t get out of their own end, and were turning the puck over in the neutral zone like it was going out of style. The Wings dropped 13 shots on the Hawks after only mustering 7 in the 1st, and Marc-Andre Fleury looked all kinds of tired.

The 3rd started out just like the 2nd with the Wings pressing hard, but Fleury was up to the task. Finally the Hawks took the momentum back with a PPG from Strome (giving him his first hat trick since juniors) and one from Top Cat on a nice 2 on 1 with Toews. The Hawks were struck with stupid again after that, letting the Wings back within one after a PPG from Moritz Seider and a tally from Dylan Larkin. That was as close as the Wings would get, however, as Hagel stripped Old Friend Nick Leddy and sealed the deal with a breakaway goal. Tack on an ENG from Top Cat, and you end up with the 8-5 final in a game that was sloppy as fuck, but stupid fun to watch.

 

1/28

Avalanche 6 – Hawks 4

BOX SCORE

Natural Stat Trick

 

This game started out a mirror image of the one from Monday night, with the exception that it was the Avalanche that played the perfect road period in the 1st (something that gave the feeling of a cat playing with it’s food), ending it with the score tied at zeros. Once again like the first game against the Avs, it was a dumb penalty that allowed Colorado to take the lead with a PPG from Landeskog barely a minute into the second period. JT Compher tacked on another about 15 minutes later when Caleb Jones lost a puck battle in the corner and Connor Murphy lost his stick into the side of the net, allowing Tyson Jost to flip the puck into the slot to an all alone Compher as Dylan Strome and Brandon Hagel stood there dumbfounded. Shortly thereafter the Avs pinned the Hawks in their own zone for the remainder of the period, resulting in Patrick Kane taking a hooking penalty just before the period expired.

Predictably, Landeskog started out the 3rd the same way he did the 2nd, burying his second power play goal of the night, and seemingly putting the final nail in the Hawks coffin. Unpredictably, the Hawks fired themselves up like Hulk Hogan making a comeback at Wrestlemania and threw everything they had at the Avs in the 3rd. Less than 20 seconds after Landeskog’s goal, Brandon Hagel atoned for his defensive miscue by tipping in a shot from Connor Murphy at the point. Then came Kaner’s goal a minute later off a slick give and go between him and Gustafsson cutting the Avs lead to one. Alas the fairy tale ended there, as Alex Newhook buried a weird one timer past Fleury when Brett Connoly half-assed his way back to the net. The Hawks would score one more from Gufstasson, but it was too little too late.

Overall, it was a very entertaining week of hockey from the Hawks, but they only get two points to show for it. Had this level of compete occurred against almost any other team in the West, the Hawks would’ve most certainly taken at least two of the 3 games. The Avs are not just any team in the West, however, and their talent level far exceeds the Hawks right now. I’m sure this is how most other teams felt playing the Hawks in 2010 and 2013, and I guess it’s only fair it’s being done to them this time around. The Avs are on an absolute tear right now, and their Star Destroyer of a team was more than enough for the Corellian Cruiser the Hawks were puttering around in. It was always going to end this way against them, but at least it was an entertaining watch.

Hockey

There’s no time to waste in this season of cramming games in wherever we can—the Hawks are now going to be playing a double-header this weekend against the Wild, the first tilt between these teams this season. What could go wrong?

Game Time: 7:30 PM Friday / 8 PM Saturday
TV/Radio:
NHL Network, NBCSCH+, WGN 720
-30 wind chill:
Hockey Wilderness

The Wild started out the season hot, winning four in a row to begin the season and going on an eight-game win streak in late November and early December. Following that, however, the Wild have only won three of their last nine games and are now holding onto the 1st wild card spot in the Western Conference, four points behind the Predators because neither of these teams can ever leave the mushy middle of the Western Conference for some reason.

Offensively, the team is led almost exclusively by Kaprizov (first on the team in assists, points, shooting percentage, and offensive point shares according to hockey-reference). Just about as offensively productive is his 1st-line centerman and our old friend Ryan Hartman, who is having a career year and blowing all of his past stats completely out of the water. In just half a season, he’s surpassed all of his previous seasons’ stats, including his one full season he had in Chicago at the beginning of his career. Mats Zuccarello rounds out the Wild’s first line, who like Hartman is likely also benefitting from Kaprizov’s elite playmaking abilities.

The points production definitely tapers off from there, especially considering the myriad of COVID and injury-ridden players they’ve been dealing with. However, Wild fans must be pleased to hear that Joel Eriksson Ek will be making his return Friday to center the 2nd line. Additionally, they are hoping that Cam Talbot can start one of the games—he’s 34 and hasn’t started since January 1, so he could be a bit rusty if we do see him. Finally, Jared Spurgeon may or may not be returning this weekend, but I’m pretty sure nobody gives a shit.

Overall the biggest issue facing the Wild is their bonkers schedule coming up. Wild fans and media members are mad as hell that they have to play 40 games in 77 days thanks to COVID-related cancellations because of their opponents, apparently, and not the Wild themselves. The NHL certainly could’ve spaced more of their rescheduled games out, especially when you look at the multiple stretches of off-days the Wild have had during the month of January. The team will probably be exhausted by the time the playoffs roll around, and that’s if they don’t go on another cold streak and lose their wild card spot. Everyone up north is hoping their top line will see it through to the end, though.

As for the Men of Four Feathers, Seth Jones returns this weekend after missing his return to Columbus and then some with COVID. Dylan Strome is slated to return this weekend as well; he’s only had three assists in his last five games played but seems to be slotting right back into a first-line center role in practice, and with Dach still out he’ll likely stay there. The Hawks’ lack of center depth continues, I guess.

Interestingly, Rockford goalie Cale Morris has been placed on the Hawks’ active roster, despite both Fleury and Lankinen at practice and seemingly healthy. We’ll see how things shake up there, though I would be surprised to see Morris play. Without Fleury in net making every save imaginable, it’s much harder for the Hawks to win as they continue to be out-chanced and out-possessed by most of their opponents. More players stepping up and scoring goals this weekend would be advantageous, as the Wild are going to be the playoff-contending warmup for the Hawks before two games against the Avalanche later next week—God save us.

Hockey

Even with a game cancellation in Edmonton, the Hawks had an easier stretch of schedule to extend their winning streak, what with the Ducks skidding and not fully healthy and the Kraken turning out to be a regular expansion team that isn’t very good. Though we lost to the Kraken in overtime, the Hawks have Marc-Andre Fleury in net which means we can pick up 3 of 4 points on the week.

1/15
Hawks 3, Ducks 0
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Natural Stat Trick

The Blackhawks must feel mighty good blanking the Ducks with a COVID-decimated roster that did not include…breakout 20-goal scorer Troy Terry? But a win is a win and they looked good doing it. The Hawks put on pressure early on with some pretty solid chances, including a vintage Kane breakaway opportunity that seems to be getting rarer and rarer these days. Then a hooking call put him in the penalty box, which wasn’t great.

Overall, however, the Hawks were peppering the Ducks with chances, kept pucks in the offensive zone—all despite the numbers saying possession was about even throughout the game. The Hawks looking so good probably had to do with Fleury standing on his head to net his 70th shutout.

Lukas Reichel showed flashes, though he was ultimately stopped by the opposition with most of his chances in the o-zone. He wasn’t terrible in his own end, either, blocking a shot early in the 2nd period. Of course he got sent back down solely because of The Almighty Dollar, which is probably fine because this season is down the tubes anyway.

The Hawks didn’t score until the second period, when Gustafsson (right out of the box) set up Hagel after the Ducks had a myriad of scoring opportunities they somehow didn’t convert on at the end of their powerplay. The Hawks powerplay, though still bad, did finally convert in the 3rd period, as Kane and the Cat made it happen yet again with some great passing. Kubalik scored the empty-netter to end it with just three minutes left in the game.

1/17
Hawks 2, Kraken 3 (Kraken win spirited match of peg solitaire)
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Natural Stat Trick

The Hawks saw a lot of pressure from the Kraken to begin this game, which shows with their horrific 19.05 CF% in the 1st. The Hawks were spending the whole first period in the defensive zone, getting drilled physically and not being able to control the puck. Luckily for them the shots on goal were pretty even throughout and Fleury was once again saving every shot with his usual acrobatics in front of the net.

The Hawks looked a bit better in the 2nd with a few good chances and less time in their own zone. The powerplay continued the game-long trend of being complete buffoonery, as the Hawks were unable to get a shot on net it seemed in the 1st period and just a few meager powerplay chances in the 2nd. Luckily a Kubalik breakaway shortly after the powerplay put the Hawks up 1-0, though that lasted only a few minutes before the Kraken scored a weird tip-in goal that no one on the ice seemed to see.

The Hawks scored their last of the game nearing the end of the 2nd period with Brandon Hagel getting set up by The Cat. Kubalik was back on the ice, too, right at the net where he needs to be. I hope his hot streak continues.

The Kraken were able to tie it up in the 3rd with help from Amy’s Youngest who knocked over Fleury at just the right time for the puck to sail into the back of the net. The overtime was a horrific slog despite all the Fleury acrobatics, and the Kraken became the winner of the meaningless shootout on goals by Ryan Donato and Joonas Donskoi.

Seth Jones will make his return to the lineup this weekend in a home-and-home against the Wild on Friday and Saturday. The Wild are clinging to a wild card spot who just recently got Kirill the Thrill back from injury, so they should be a challenge for the Hawks. Read more about it tomorrow.