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

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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

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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

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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

Once again, this publication was right in our analysis.

The Blackhawks played like dogshit to start this season off, and if it were up to any of us the coach would’ve been fired two days ago. Perhaps you were at least trying to hope that the Hawks would be somewhat watchable coming out of the gate this year, and with the players they added that’s not a lot to ask for. And yet here we are with some really ugly losses to start this season off. For those who channeled their inner Tony Montana and said to hell with this team before the season even started…good move on your part.

October 13, 2021
Hawks 2, Avalanche 4
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Once the puck finally dropped fifteen minutes after the game’s scheduled start time, things went just about as expected for the men of four feathers. By all logic this team should be much better than last year’s since we acquired two players in blockbuster trades and theoretically strengthened the defense. But no, instead we watched the Hawks defense be non-existent, with giveaways and a failing System everywhere you looked. Jake McCabe tripped over Tyler Johnson to lead to an Avalanche giveaway that scored the first goal. Minutes later, Seth Jones gave the puck away to Bowen Byram which led directly to a softie goal by Marc-Andre Fleury that can also be partially blamed on Calvin de Haan for screening his own goaltender. Fleury very noticeably got angrier and angrier with every dipshit goal scored against him, and Jones posted a -2 and had some horrifically defensive plays all throughout this game, in case you were wondering—one of which happened just a few minutes after the second goal when Gabriel Landeskog stole the puck from DeBrincat and set up Byram for his first NHL tally.

The Hawks were able to score two goals in this one despite getting completely clocked in possession for the entirety of the first period. And the only reason why the Hawks had 50+ CF% in the second and third periods was thanks to the Avalanche very obviously taking their foot off the gas once they secured their Most Dangerous Lead. Kirby Dach had a few really good chances he couldn’t finish, which he should definitely straighten out, and then he got plastered by Landeskog in the 3rd period in an illegal hit that probably should’ve seen a longer suspension. Don’t be fooled by the score, however, because this team looked horrendous and could barely get out of their zone—a trend that will continue, as you see below. Oh, and did we mention Nathan MacKinnon wasn’t even playing?

October 15, 2021
Hawks 3, Devils 4 (OT)
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Kevin Lankinen started this one, and unlike Fleury he’s seen this shit before and isn’t in for a culture shock regarding how terrible The System is around here. And as usual, the defense ended up hanging him out to dry on a myriad of goals. The Hawks were almost immediately trailing in this one thanks to Jake McCabe getting outmuscled by multiple Devils, which was…special to watch. But a sweet pass from Kane to the Cat was able to tie things up on a powerplay opportunity (the only way this God-forsaken team can score goals under this coaching staff).

Jack Hughes spin-o-rama’d a goal and then Kevin Lankinen let in a tough one midway through the third to make things an even more uphill battle for the Hawks. Somehow we were able to score two with four minutes left in the game, thanks of course to a Blackhawk powerplay and a Hawks empty net that put an extra man on the ice. (See the scoring pattern?) The good news is that Seth Jones wasn’t as atrocious for this game, helping to keep the puck in on the tying goal and keep the play alive. However, it was Jack Hughes with a highlight-reel overtime goal reminiscent of the younger, not-injured Kane of yore that ended this game with another Blackhawk loss.

October 16, 2021
Hawks 2, Penguins 5
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This is genuinely the most embarrassing game of Blackhawks hockey I’ve had the mispleasure to watch in a very long time. (Ever?) Poor Fleury, in his return to Pittsburgh that should’ve been a good experience for him, ended his start so quickly, horrifically and embarrassingly that I just had to turn this game off for a while. The Hawks, who ONCE AGAIN should’ve lucked out with their opponent’s best players in Crosby and Malkin out this game, still let this Penguins team skate circles around them. For the second game in a row the Hawks allowed a goal just seconds in, on the opponent’s first shot of the game, a goal Fleury likely should’ve had. The second goal was a second Fleury fuck-up, as he traveled to get a loose puck behind his net and wasn’t able to get a handle on it quickly enough, letting Drew O’Connor stick it right in an open net. A third goal from the same fucking bottom-six line continued to crush Fleury’s confidence, and less than a minute later the defensive System left him out to dry with one more goal against to send Fleury packing.

Fleury was yanked to a chorus of boos, both because Fleury is a Penguin GOAT and also because it must be so much fun to pillage a team like this and get four goals in the first twelve minutes of a game. Without Crosby and Malkin. A (powerplay) Kane one-timer and a pretty nifty Dach goal in the 3rd accounted for the two Hawks goals, in case it matters to you at all. Lankinen allowed one more Penguin goal because he couldn’t control a rebound that ended up going off Murphy’s skate and in the net, a perfect summation of how well The System is working so far.

Finally, Kane’s secret injury seems more than just a “nagging” one to me. Why didn’t they figure that out in the offseason? Even a surgery that puts him out the first part of the season would be preferable to what I’m seeing now. And yet he’s still the points leader on this team by a mile! I need a Tylenol.

The clown show never ends, as the Hawks look to face off against the Islanders, Canucks, and Scum this week. Meanwhile, the front office has announced God-like figure Marian Hossa will return to be honored on November 9th in order to sell as many tickets as they can to this clown show, which the team will probably lose to the Penguins again. (They would honor him more by letting him just stay home in Slovakia, poor guy.) Coach Bargain Bin Rivers Cuomo will be booed to my heart’s content in tomorrow’s opener, and hopefully by the next wrap we have a new coach, even if it’s just Marc Crawford. God save us all.

Hockey

From Wednesday…

When trading for Nazem Kadri, the Avalanche knew they were taking on some risk. While Kadri had been a dutiful soldier in Toronto and did a lot of the dirty work that Auston Matthews or John Tavares wouldn’t be concerned with, there is always the chance that Kadri goes off the deep end and gets himself suspended at crucial times. Kadri has been suspended five times in the past six years by the league, and fined or sent him by his own team a few times as well. The risk seemed worth it though, because A. Kadri is one of the more dynamic two-way centers in the league and B. perhaps being out of the pressure-cooker of Toronto which frays just about everyone’s nerves would calm him down a bit.

The latter we won’t find out about truly until the playoffs. The former is the problem, because Kadri hasn’t been what he was in Toronto so far with the Avs.

Kadri has 22 points in 30 games, which is certainly more than enough. It puts him on pace to match or even exceed his career high of 61 points, set three seasons ago. And that’s what the Avs do, get up the ice ASAP and fill the net.

But you’re supposed to get a possession-driving checking center with Kadri as well, and the Avs haven’t seen that yet. Kadri is carrying by far the worst relative numbers of his career. Kadri was continually above the team-rate in T.O. and with far worse zone starts. He’s -9.2 in his xG%, and -4.0 in his Corsi percentage. Both would be nearly double the worst marks of his career in Toronto. And the weird thing is, Kadri is starting more shifts in the offensive zone than ever before. So why is he backing up all the time?

Is it teammates? Hard to say. Kadri has spent most of this time this season with Joonas Donskoi and Andre Burakovsky. Donskoi is certainly no moron when it comes to the defensive side of the puck, Burakovsky can be a little more flaky. But there are certainly worse combinations. And that isn’t really that much worse than Leo Komarov and Patrick Marleau, whom Kadri spent most of his time with the past three years in Toronto.

Maybe it was Babcock’s more conservative system that kept him buffeted, where in Colorado you have a fair number of yahoos (in a good way) on the back end. Toronto certainly had no less speed and skill than Colorado does, but the criticism of Babcock (among others) was that he rarely unleashed it. Jared Bednar certainly does, and maybe Kadri is just finding his way in a more open spaces.

And maybe the Avs don’t care. They have Pierre-Edouard Bellmare to take the true dungeon shifts, with Colin Wilson and Tyson Jost doing some of that work as well. Maybe the Avs just need a straight-up #2 center. At the end of the day, the Avs are outscoring their opponents 22-15 at evens with Kadri on the ice, whatever the possession numbers are. For now, that’s probably enough.

Still, the Avs will be holding their breath come April. The Avs don’t have a blood feud with anyone like they do with the Leafs did with the Bruins, so Kadri’s blood won’t be boiling yet. Especially as all the Leafs heard about last year during the season was how they couldn’t beat the Bruins (and they didn’t). Still, put Kadri in the middle of the cauldron of an extended series, against someone annoying like the Flames or Blues, and you wonder if he can keep in check for the first time.

 

Hockey

Samuel Girard – The Avs have had a tradition of dirty shits since their inception, begun with founding father Claude Lemieux. Forsberg was dirtier than he got credit for. Ian Laperrierre carried the torch for a bit, there was dunderhead Cody McLeod for far too long, and then of course their coach picked up the slack in Patrick Roy there for a minute. So it’s somewhat comforting to know this hasn’t died as Girard seems desperate to be the next one. Maybe he was pissed he didn’t actually win a fight against pint-sized Alex DeBrincat, but his hit on same last Wednesday was cheap, late, and dirty and while this thing is usually stupid we’ll admit to some bloodlust tonight. It was also cowardly, as not only is DeBrincat much smaller and the play was over, but he was off balance and streaking towards the boards. The Hawks are lucky it wasn’t much worse. That’s taking the low road to look tough, which is an Avalanche tradition.

Nikita Zadorov – He only didn’t do the same thing as Girard because he didn’t think of it first. But totally capable.

Hockey

Box Score

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The Blackhawks still suck, the Avs are still good. I spent most of this day traveling so and then I had to watch this ordeal so let’s just get this done:

A Preface – the above photo does not at all depict how this game went, but it was too funny of a picture to not use. You go, Boqvist.

FIRE JEREMY COLLITON

– As Sam wrote brilliantly morning, the Blackhawks should not be this bad. They have everything that you would think you need to compete in the modern NHL – solid goaltending, high-level scorers, good enough forward depth. But they definitely lack big talent on the blue line in a big way, as we knew they would, and the structure of this team and the style of play expose them to getting their asses completely waxed by teams like the Avalanche that have all of those same things in spades along with a fuckton more speed. Personally I am kinda tired of watching the Hawks play this team because it’s always embarrassing like this. What more am I to say?

Nathan MacKinnon should be illegal. The man is far too good and yet in some ways he might even still be underrated. Which is really weird cuz people know he’s fucking good. But his speed, shot, puck handling, vision, everything is just insane. His goal tonight, the Avs second and the eventual GWG, came after he brilliantly corralled a terrible pass at his feet, and then just zoomed past the Hawks defense and fired an unstoppable shot over Crawford’s blocker. Police, I’d like to report a murder.

– The Hawks were truly lucky to escape the first period of this one tied – which is a theme that does not seem to be stopping, at least when I watch and am recap duty. The Hawks got so roundly skullfucked from a possession standpoint in the first period that even after posting CF%’s of 58 and 61 in the second and third period respectively, they still got beat in that regard 51%-49% on the night. I guess that is what happens when you let a team hang a 67.5% on you in the first.

– The Avs had 29 scoring chances in this game. That’s essentially one every two minutes. That is just absurdly bad. Thank God for Corey Crawford. The poor bastard.

– Fire Jeremy Colliton.

– Hawks go again tomorrow against the Jets. Until then.

Hockey

vs.

RECORDS: Avs 21-9-3   Hawks 13-15-6

PUCK DROP: 7pm

TV: NBCSN

ROCKY MOUNTAIN WAY: Mile High Hockey

You can’t get a more clear illustration of one team with everything in front of them, and one that can’t stop staring down than on Wednesday Night Hockey tonight. Heightened by the fact that the Avs have already Macho Man Elbowed the Hawks twice this year, and it’s hard to find a bigger chasm you can watch. But hey, they make you play all 82.

The big story probably lies with the Hawks tonight, as once again Brent Seabrook is a healthy scratch. And according to Jeremy
Colliton, this isn’t about making some statement. I don’t know if this signals some massive youth movement for the Hawks, but either way this is correct. With Duncan Keith returning tonight and Adam Boqvist needing minutes with a real d-man, there’s little option really. Sure, bending over for Dennis Gilbert is not a good look for anyone, but this was going to happen when the Hawks have other actual promising kids around and it’s probably not the worst message to send to everyone that they will get looks if they’ve earned it over sputtering vets. Hell, if de Haan were every going to be healthy again, Seabrook might be looking at being #8 on the depth chart.

The other story is Keith returns as well and will pair with Murphy, which for a handful of games early in the season actually looked like a thing. Whether this is the team you’d want to return against when your groin is iffy is another question. But there probably isn’t much choice.

If there was hope the Avs might take this one lightly, those probably disappeared with them getting soundly beaten by the Blues 5-2 on Monday. And the last thing the Hawks need is an ornery Avs team that they can’t handle. They probably can’t handle them heavily medicated.

The Avs are beat up on the blue line. Cale Makar and Erik Johnson have missed the past few games and won’t play tonight. That leaves a first pairing of Samuel Girard and Nikita Zadorov, which you would think even the Hawks could get at. But you’d think a lot of things.

The problem is that unlike their double-header after Thanksgiving, the Avs are just about fully operational at forward now. Gabriel ThreeYaksAndADog is back, so’s Matt Calvert, and the Hawks couldn’t handle the Avs when they were rounding their fourth line out with AHL flotsam. So that’s fun.

Nathan MacKinnon is definitely off on one, so good luck to Keith’s groin. He’s got 34 points in his last 21 games, has vaulted into the top-five in scoring, and is going to make a case for yet a Hart Trophy before too long. One that has somehow eluded him to this point in his career. He’s got running buddy Mikko Rantanen back, and Burakovsky has loved being on the other side.

The Hawks simply couldn’t deal with the Avs transition speed, and also couldn’t find the Avs’ centers when they were set up in the Hawks’ zone. Both MacKinnon and Kadri benefitted from waiting out near the blue line while the puck was down low behind the Hawks’ net last time, and then crashing down when possession was won and the Hawks looking for them and not finding them. Watch for this tonight and whether one of the Hawks wingers abandons a point to cover this or the center leaves the front of the net to get out high against them. Either is probably a better choice than simply letting MacKinnon run around free all he likes.

The Hawks are now the wooden spooners of the West. That should embarrass everyone, but we’ll see if they have a response. It could be an ugly week, as they have the Avs twice with the Jets sandwiched in between. Perhaps fear of embarrassment is what they need.

Hockey

When trading for Nazem Kadri, the Avalanche knew they were taking on some risk. While Kadri had been a dutiful soldier in Toronto and did a lot of the dirty work that Auston Matthews or John Tavares wouldn’t be concerned with, there is always the chance that Kadri goes off the deep end and gets himself suspended at crucial times. Kadri has been suspended five times in the past six years by the league, and fined or sent him by his own team a few times as well. The risk seemed worth it though, because A. Kadri is one of the more dynamic two-way centers in the league and B. perhaps being out of the pressure-cooker of Toronto which frays just about everyone’s nerves would calm him down a bit.

The latter we won’t find out about truly until the playoffs. The former is the problem, because Kadri hasn’t been what he was in Toronto so far with the Avs.

Kadri has 22 points in 30 games, which is certainly more than enough. It puts him on pace to match or even exceed his career high of 61 points, set three seasons ago. And that’s what the Avs do, get up the ice ASAP and fill the net.

But you’re supposed to get a possession-driving checking center with Kadri as well, and the Avs haven’t seen that yet. Kadri is carrying by far the worst relative numbers of his career. Kadri was continually above the team-rate in T.O. and with far worse zone starts. He’s -9.2 in his xG%, and -4.0 in his Corsi percentage. Both would be nearly double the worst marks of his career in Toronto. And the weird thing is, Kadri is starting more shifts in the offensive zone than ever before. So why is he backing up all the time?

Is it teammates? Hard to say. Kadri has spent most of this time this season with Joonas Donskoi and Andre Burakovsky. Donskoi is certainly no moron when it comes to the defensive side of the puck, Burakovsky can be a little more flaky. But there are certainly worse combinations. And that isn’t really that much worse than Leo Komarov and Patrick Marleau, whom Kadri spent most of his time with the past three years in Toronto.

Maybe it was Babcock’s more conservative system that kept him buffeted, where in Colorado you have a fair number of yahoos (in a good way) on the back end. Toronto certainly had no less speed and skill than Colorado does, but the criticism of Babcock (among others) was that he rarely unleashed it. Jared Bednar certainly does, and maybe Kadri is just finding his way in a more open spaces.

And maybe the Avs don’t care. They have Pierre-Edouard Bellmare to take the true dungeon shifts, with Colin Wilson and Tyson Jost doing some of that work as well. Maybe the Avs just need a straight-up #2 center. At the end of the day, the Avs are outscoring their opponents 22-15 at evens with Kadri on the ice, whatever the possession numbers are. For now, that’s probably enough.

Still, the Avs will be holding their breath come April. The Avs don’t have a blood feud with anyone like they do with the Leafs did with the Bruins, so Kadri’s blood won’t be boiling yet. Especially as all the Leafs heard about last year during the season was how they couldn’t beat the Bruins (and they didn’t). Still, put Kadri in the middle of the cauldron of an extended series, against someone annoying like the Flames or Blues, and you wonder if he can keep in check for the first time.

 

Hockey

J.T. Compher – Sometimes you’re not a prick, you just keep scoring against the Hawks even if you’re no damn good. Compher might be good, he might not be, but against the Hawks he’s some sort of HYDRA creation. Five games last year, four goals and five points. He scored a goal against them last time the Avs were here, and three of his 17 points are against the Hawks this season. All in one game. He hasn’t scored more against anyone else in his career than he did against the Hawks last season. He has two goals this year. He’ll probably double that total this weekend.

Nazem Kadri – Ah, here’s our prick. Maybe being out of the pressure cooker of Toronto will un-fuck his brain, but Kadri has helped torpedo a couple seasons with selfish and dirty hits that ended in suspensions. A wonderful checking center who can score, that is when his brain is turned on. But can’t help himself with being a dipshit, and the Avs can only hope that doesn’t rear its ugly head again at the absolute worst time.

Ian Cole – BAYBAY!

Hockey

You know, it’s very rare that I am without things to say. I have been rendered truly speechless only one time in my adult life, and it was when I got called out for being an asshole at a White Sox game (funny story, I’ll tell you about it sometime). The point is, however, that I don’t often struggle for words. But tonight, it’s happening to me. After watching the Blackhawks get completely outplayed in every sense of the word for back-to-back games on back-to-back nights, I’m left grasping for ways to explain it, even though I can see some ways that things need to change to keep this from happening again. So here goes…

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–For about the first two minutes of the game, it felt like it wouldn’t go down this way. It seemed like it was going to be different than last night. Jonathan Toews got called for a bullshit penalty just seconds into the game, and when Brandon Saad turned it into a short-handed goal, things seemed to be looking up. Not only that, the Hawks were keeping pace with the Avs, who, as noted previously, are really fucking fast. This lasted all of about 2-3 minutes, and then the Avs just took over. On Nazem Kadri‘s second goal, Seabrook got straight-up burned by him flying by while there was no backchecking forward to be found. That was when it started to get ugly.

–You want ugly? It’s Alex DeBrincat trying to fight someone. Yes, that’s right—Alex fucking DeBrincat got into a fight in the first period, and if that’s your game plan to turn shit around in a period where you’re struggling, then there is no help for you. I’m hoping Top Cat was just being hot-headed and stupid, since we already proved that Andrew Shaw‘s dumbass fight last night was not a turning point or anything other than useless GRITHEARTFART. DeBrincat better never pull this nonsense again. The whole thing smacked of desperation.

Robin Lehner getting pulled also didn’t solve anything, and honestly this shit wasn’t his fault, just like last night’s score wasn’t Corey Crawford‘s fault. The defensive breakdowns were insane. Yes, it was going to be tough with Keith out and Fetch Koekkoek in, but that doesn’t explain all of it. Erik Gustafsson was particularly awful again tonight, for example, when he completely failed to break up a pass to a streaking Joonas Donskoi for his first goal. Lehner was (rightly) frustrated throughout, and seemed to scream right at Toews as he left the game, which was hilarious because Toews was on the ice for a lot of goals, but also not what you want to see. When anyone looks back on this game, let it be known this wasn’t Lehner’s doing. And Crawford gave up a couple anyway, so clearly the Hawks goaltenders are not the X factor in why the Avs are kicking the shit out of us.

–But hey, Patrick Kane extended his scoring streak!

–In all seriousness though, that goal by Kane came on a 5-on-3, which was the second one the Hawks had tonight. So with two of those you’d think they’d have a little better result. Overall their power play was back to its stationary ways, with Kane standing still at the dot and firing on Philip Grubauer (who was good tonight but not lights out). It was good to see Kirby Dach get time on the second PP unit because now I’m paranoid he’s going to get benched and made a scapegoat for Colliton’s stupidity, but there isn’t much else to be pleased about with the power play tonight.

Dominik Kubalik had a nice goal. How long till he’s a healthy scratch again to, ya know, send him some message?

OK, OK, enough whining. This weekend exposed the underlying problems that we know—and have known—about the Hawks this entire season. It was also just a scant few days ago that they beat arguably the hottest team in the league and in quite convincing fashion, only to turn around and be made to look downright foolish by a fast, skilled team. There are lessons here to be learned, such as not hitting the blender so hard and throwing nonsensical lines out there because you don’t know what else to do, maybe stop worrying about a damn contract year and bring up your fast, puck-moving defenseman, stop bothering with Andrew Shaw on the power play because he’s useless…all these things and more can be addressed to improve the situation.

It’s blatantly clear that the Hawks need to make changes after this weekend—now we just have to see if they do it. Onward and upward…

Line of the Night: Sorry folks, was in the mute lounge tonight while streaming Phish’s night 2 in Providence

Beer de jour: Good Behavior IPA by Odell Brewing

Hockey

The Blackhawks were leading in shots, they led in possession, they had Corey Crawford in net who’s been stellar of late…and they managed to get completely outplayed and have their asses handed to them at home. And Duncan Keith is out with a groin injury, so all around a rough day. Let’s get to it:

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–This game showed, in no uncertain terms, that the Hawks are not fast enough to handle elite teams. And I’m using “elite” in a very broad sense because the Avs aren’t REALLY an elite team right now because of all the injuries to their lineup. As the broadcast pointed out, they have about 5 AHL players on their roster right now and STILL managed to be faster and more skilled. It happened right out of the gate, with the Avalanche going up 2-0 less than 5 minutes into the game, and as you can see by the score, they didn’t really stop. They didn’t dominate in possession either—as Sam pointed out earlier, they’re not a possession team and they didn’t surpass a 40 CF% until the 3rd period, yet it didn’t even matter. They moved the puck up and out, burned our slow-ass defensemen time and time again, and they finished. Even Valeri Nichushkin finished. They were just better than the Hawks.

–Adding insult to injury (literally) is the fact that the Hawks only gave up 23 shots. They managed 36 themselves, and normally that would be something to celebrate—not only did they lead in shots but the Hawks gave up fewer than 4,728 in a game! But it was for nothing, as Crawford definitely did not have his best day, although the slow-ass defensemen just mentioned are more to blame than Crow. Yes, I’m always going to defend Corey Crawford and yes, he should have had a couple of those, but he was largely left hung out to dry by his teammates just watching faster players skate by them. And it wasn’t even just the defensemen. David Kampf, who normally is really reliable, let some pucks get by him at his own blue line. Patrick Kane ‘s give-a-shit meter was about -3 until late in the second and he lazily let pucks go multiple times. No one was tight defensively today. But hey, Kane’s point streak is still alive.

–And Duncan Keith apparently has a groin injury, which would explain at least partially why he got absolutely smoked a few times. (Erik Gustafsson doesn’t have this excuse, but that’s a larger problem that was in evidence today.) Obviously no one wants Keith to be hurt and it’s not going to help this lineup to have him out, seeing as he hasn’t been bad lately. But, if this does open the door to get Adam Boqvist back up here I’m going to try to focus on the glass being half full. If there is one takeaway from this game, it’s that they need faster skaters and puck movers and gee whiz where could they possibly find one?!

–Speaking of youngsters, Kirby Dach also had not-his-best-game and got stupidly demoted for it. Listen, he’s 18, he’s going to pass a few too many times, he’s going to lack confidence sometimes to shoot, and demoting him to the 4th line to center two oafs is NOT going to help that confidence or make him a better player. Meanwhile, Ryan Carpenter who is a fine bottom-sixer, should not be centering Kane and DeBrincat. Everyone had a rough afternoon. Everyone played like shit. This is no reason to fuck with the lines and ignore the basics of personnel and the talent you’re dealing with. It’s another symptom of Colliton being in over his head. My only hope is that Dach is back on the second line tomorrow and adds some fuck-you to his game so he doesn’t get demoted again while Strome is still out.

–It also should be noted that Alex DeBrincat muffed about 3 or 4 chances today. Granted, he had assists in his last couple games but he’s not scoring at the level we need. Sure, everyone was shitty today but if he had buried even one or two of those it might have been a different story.

–Erik Gustafsson had a terrible, very bad, no-good day. Two stupid-ass penalties, one of which led immediately to Cale Makar‘s goal, he got completely burned by Nichushkin on his goal, and made more turnovers than I care to count. You already know how I feel about this guy and his future on this team, so I will say no more. But he sucks.

–Speaking of guys who suck, Andrew Shaw is a useless tool. He dropped the gloves in the first once the Hawks were down 2-0, and because their first goal came sorta-kinda close to that, the broadcast was all over him with the tired, worn-out trope that a fight changes momentum and makes a team better. It does not, and it did not today. A good forecheck by Ryan Carpenter is why they scored their first goal, not Shaw’s dumbassery. And then at the end of the game he tried to fight a guy who just had plates and screws surgically implanted to put his face back together and was wearing a shield! But please, tell me again about his energy and how it helps the team.

OK, so they pulled their Jekyll & Hyde routine today and we were on the wrong side of it (was it Jekyll who was bad? Or Mr. Hyde? I can’t remember nor can I make thoughtful literary references right now). But they’ve got a chance to bring Boqvist to Denver, throw Lehner out there, and hopefully bounce back against a team that they can obviously shoot on. Or so we can hope. Onward and upward…

Line of the Night: “The Hawks having some problems in their own end.” —Pat Foley, in the most-heard refrain of the game.

Beer de jour: Good Behavior IPA, Odell Brewing