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

vs.

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

PUCK DROP: 7pm

TV: NBCSN

THEY’RE ALL AEROSMITH’S DRUMMER NOW: Stanley Cup Of Chowder

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

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

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

Yeah, about that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hockey

vs.

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

PUCK DROP: 6pm

TV: NBCSN Chicago

FRUSTRATED WOMEN: Stanley Cup Of Chowder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hockey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything Else

We went to our normal Days of Y’Orr crew. No one told us they were all dead. Some relative forwarded us to someone named Jon Fucile. So here you go. We don’t know either.

Not that you could do this, but the Bruins are in a tussle with the Canadiens and Leafs for the 2nd and 3rd spots in the Atlantic. Technically, wouldn’t it be better to finish 4th and deal with whatever dreck wins the Metro instead of Toronto or yet another series with Montreal?
I’m torn on that, though I’d lean towards preferring a match-up with the Metro. The Bruins have handled the Maple Leafs pretty well over the past couple years, but the Leafs have more than one line which could be a problem in the playoffs. Tavares actually playing some meaningful playoff games could cause him to Hulk out and go nuts and as much as I love Zdeno Chara, he already looks tired. Pretty soon Bergeron is going to have to play D and pull a Weekend at Bernie’s with Chara. Doesn’t bode well for the playoffs.
Because the NHL playoff schedule sucks and there’s a chance Toronto and Tampa could meet in the first round, it’d be nice to watch those two teams beat the shit out of each other and hope the Bruins could make a series of out the scraps if they happened to make it to the second round (which is doubtful anyway).
The Metro is such a crap show but the Bruins just got their first win against the Capitals after losing 14 straight to them so not sure I’d want to see the Caps in the first round.
Though I’m confident the Bruins could give the Penguins or Blue Jackets a run. Yeah the Pens have Crosby, Malkin, Letang and Kessel but they have less D than an early 90’s John Wayne Bobbitt and over in Columbus Bobrovsky forgot you’re supposed to play well in a contract year. So yeah I’d say play for 4th and hope for the “best” from the Metro.
I mean… go for #1! Yeah! Rah rah and all that.
The Bs have been racking up points, but they’ve gone to OT with the Flyers, Rangers, Kings, and Avalanche of late, none of whom are above the remedial class. Any worries there?
Oh yeah. The Bruins score less than me and I’m married. When the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line isn’t out there, this team couldn’t score on an empty net. Well, maybe that’s a tad harsh. But they’d definitely have trouble scoring on a blind folded Martin Jones, and he can’t stop anything this year. And now with Pastrnak being out at least two weeks with a busted thumb, scoring is likely to dry up like Oilers playoff chances after opening night. This was a problem last year too and management failed to address it. We never learn from our mistakes.
Well, except for firing Chiarelli. But it was too late. IT WAS TOO LATE.
They have to get David Krejci any winger, right?
They have to but I’m afraid they won’t. Even if I drink a gallon of Bruins Kool-Aid I still know this team has zero shot at a long playoff run without adding more to the second line.
Boston management is too addicted to their failing prospects, though. Sweeney should’ve made a move or two last year when some of the top B’s prospects had some value before they tanked hard this year. They’ve tried spreading out the scoring by putting Pastrnak on Krejci’s wing, but then you break up what is arguably the best line in hockey.
The rumor mill is popping with Panarin to Boston rumors, and I think he and Krejci would look GREAT together but I’m not sure even that that the Bruins have enough depth scoring to be a threat to a healthy Tampa Bay team. Also rumors that the Bruins are front runners to add Wayne Simmonds, which is a trade I would LOVE if I had a time machine and could get the Wayne Simmonds from 3-4 years ago. Vintage Wayne Simmonds is what Bruins fans pretend Milan Lucic was.
The Bruins last year seemed to have introduced an impressive collection of younger players. But DeBrusk hasn’t scored in forever, McAvoy is made out of graham crackers, Heinen has 16 points, and one or two others have flattened out. What’s the truth here?
I hate to admit it but I think we all got suckered in last year with way too many young kids playing over their heads. It caused management to mostly stay firm this offseason as well and feed the fanbase some crap about having what they need already in the system. The signs were there, but we ignored them like an unwanted step child.
This year they came crashing back to earth like the Challenger. I still believe McAvoy has the talent but he can’t stay healthy long enough to get any kind of rhythm going. This is why I’m pro HGH. At least specifically for McAvoy. He’s the one out of this group I’d cut some slack.
DeBrusk is a classic Bruins case study. Both management and fans LOVE their power forwards and give them way too long of a leash. There were even a few rumored deals on the table last year where the Bruins could’ve included either Carlo or DeBrusk and got Landeskog in return but luckily for Colorado we’re the drunkest city in the US because management was like NO WAY WE WOULD’VE EVEN TRADE DEBRUSK FOR MCDAVID. Now he’s struggling and you’d have trouble trading him for an autographed copy of Gigli signed by Ben Affleck.
 
Boston also overvalues 4th liners every since Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell led the Merlot Line to a couple of great seasons a decade ago. Heinen, a guy with 4th line talent at best, gets propped up because of past, clearly unsustainable success.
Boston blew this whole thing more than my mom, and she’s a prostitute.

 

Game #57 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

vs.

RECORDS: Bruins 21-14-4   Hawks 15-20-6

PUCK DROP: Noon Central

TV: NBC

Beantown, Because Boston Is a Concrete Fart: Stanley Cup of Chowder

What better way to nurse a hangover than to watch this Blackhawks team play this Boston team at the unnecessarily hallowed and despicably overrated grounds of Notre Dame? In a successful attempt to prove that hell exists and that it’s taken residence wherever hockey goes, we’ll get to experience arguably the worst fanbase in America cheer on arguably the biggest douchebag in hockey at arguably the biggest sham of a university against inarguably one of the worst teams in hockey. Happy fucking New Year.

Starting with the Bruins, it seems like Tuukka Rask has finally put whatever family demons he was dealing with behind him. Since his leave of absence that spanned a few days in November, Rask has been riding the waves between middling and good. His even-strength save percentage on the year is .925, and his shorthanded percentage is a strong .896. Hilariously, it’s been his performance on the power play that’s done the most harm, as he’s somehow managed to post a .759 on the man advantage, which is really something. He’s coming off a strong performance at Buffalo, pitching a .929 in an overtime win on the 29th.

Per usual, the Bruins rely heavily on Patrice Bergeron (12 G, 19 A), David Pastrnak (23 G, 25 A), and perpetual passenger Brad Marchand (12 G, 29 A) for just about everything. This line has accounted for nearly 41% of all of Boston’s offense this year, and that’s with Bergeron missing a month between November and December with an upper body injury. This line will score, dominate possession (57+ CF%), and then rub your face in it if you let them on the advantage. Of Pastrnak’s 23 goals, 10 have come on the PP, which is second behind Patrik Laine.

Then of course there’s Brad Marchand, who will likely get an honorary degree from Notre Dame for being the most insufferable asshole to visit the stadium since the Class of 2018 graduated. He’s doing his usual routine of scoring just over a point per game while racking up penalty minutes being the most annoying nuisance this side of a dog with the squirts on a white carpet. There is a small chance that he won’t play due to an upper body injury, but given what a horse’s ass he is, bank on him being out there and causing some kind of injury, whether physical or mental, to all involved.

DeBrusk and Krejci anchor the second line, and it looks like Ryan Donato will ride next to them today. DeBrusk is on a 30-goal pace, and when Krejci has scorers on his wing he’s dangerous, so if the Hawks go hot and heavy against the first line (as they should), you can expect some damage from here.

After that, it’s retreads and generated names. Noted Dog Murderer David Backes won’t suit up because he’s a crooked penis in the midst of a three-game suspension for, what else, an illegal hit to the head. Former Blackhawk Joakim Nordstrom plays in the bottom six here, which is probably summation enough. There’s some excitement about former second rounder Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, but it’s not clear why. Colby Cave or Chris Wagner doing anything for you? No?

The big news on the blue line for the Bruins is the loss of moon-faced Ice Time spokesman Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy has missed extended time once already this year for a concussion and was placed on IR last week with a lower body injury. When McAvoy’s been healthy, he’s been effective offensively, scoring 11 points in 17 games.

Elsewhere, Zdeno Chara continues to do a terrible job of convincing anyone that he isn’t actually Rasputin. At 41, he’s still taking more than 21 minutes a night. He’s also recently returned from an MCL injury, but prior to it, he was playing well on the positive side of the possession ledger. He and Brandon Carlo, who earlier this month snapped a 115-game scoreless streak, serve primarily as the Bruins shutdown pairing. Torey Krug will be a terror in the offensive zone and absolutely nothing else. He’ll pair with John Moore who, probably for the first time in his life, won’t be the whitest person in the room.

As for the men of Four Feathers, hoo boy. Jeremy Colliton announced that he’s starting Cam Ward, according to Eric Lear. There have been several low points this year, but this already ranks in the top five, after Crow hitting his head and Bowman signing Brandon Manning as a solution to a problem the Hawks didn’t have. And he’s doing it because “He’s an important part of our group…Guys respect him and he’s played well for us.” Fuck off with that fish shit. The only thing that might be true about that is “guys respect him.” He’s not important and he has not played well for the Hawks by any metric. Holy shit, Jeremy, your trip to Notre Dame is the time you decide to make the Cool Youth Pastor moniker inapplicable? Someone hit this motherfucker with a surprise left. Either Colliton is really this stupid or this is coming from higher up (think Bowman or McDonough). I’m not sure which would be more infuriating.

There is no reason to start anyone other than Collin Delia no matter what your criteria are. Delia has played better, looked better, and is far, far more Irish than Ward. Christ, he’s posted a .957 against the MacKinnon line twice and Dallas’s “fucking horseshit” line! What else does he have to do to earn this, besides suck for 14 years, apparently? There’s really no argument against him, except if you want the Hawks to purposely tank in an effort for Hughes. But even if that did happen, there’s still a more-than-likely chance they’ll lose the lottery anyway, so, I guess fuck off with that mess.

Jesus Christ, they’re really gonna start Ward. This is like asking your parents for a puppy at Christmas and having them throw pieces of dog shit from a dog that isn’t yours at you on Christmas morning while yelling “NOT UNTIL YOU CLEAN UP AFTER IT.”

Other than this gigantic giardiniera fart, Sikura and Perlini have flipped, putting them on the third and fourth lines, respectively. Even though DeBrincat has done everything and more to earn a Top-6 spot, somehow Wide Dick on the wing with Strome and Kane is sort of working, so that’ll stand pat. The other thing that shouldn’t be working but is, is Keith–Gustafsson, which, whatever. Hockey is stupid sometimes.

The Hawks have had a nice run lately, and ironically, it’s come thanks to a strong power play and goaltending. If Dahlstrom–Murphy can shut down the Bergeron line, the Hawks continue to perform with the man advantage, and Ward somehow gets pulled within the first 10 seconds, you can see them pulling a stunner.

That is, of course, if you can get past all the pomp and circumstance of playing at Notre Dame. You’ll no doubt learn more than you ever wanted to know about its sterilized history, about how Bowman is an alumnus, and about how Jesus Christ is staging his Second Coming at South Bend. It’ll all be made even more insufferable with Pierre, Roenick, and Milbury all having a role in this one, where they will no doubt turn this game into their own personal St. Patrick’s Day of mindless self-indulgence about Notre Dame’s long traditions of grooming boys to be men while pretending they and the university writ large don’t have all the character and fortitude of an unflushed toilet. Oh, and Weezer is playing at some point during an intermission. I sure can’t wait to hear their new hit single about ride-sharing or whatever other banal aspect of rich, white dork culture Rivers Cuomo is peddling as art these days.

Hell is real, and it is located at South Bend.

Fuck Notre Dame. Fuck Boston. Fuck Weezer. Fuck Cam Ward.

Let’s go Hawks.

 

Game #42 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

We have a working theory around the lab, we’ve kicked it around for years. While some will tell you that Brad Marchand in the best left wing in the game, we tend to think he’s pretty much a product of getting to play with the best two-way center in the game in Patrice Bergeron his entire career. Before this season, Marchand had spent all of four minutes away from Bergeron in his entire career. It would be impossible to separate the two, let’s say. Thanks to Bergeron’s early-season injury, we got a glimpse (and Don Cheadle didn’t even arrive!) of what Marchand is like without #37. It wasn’t pretty.

David Pastrnak needn’t worry about such labels. He’s the real deal.

Pastrnak’s 92 goals the past three seasons rank him fifth in the league in that time. It’s more than McDavid, or Tavares, or Crosby. His 198 points rank 13th, ahead of names like Draisaitl, Panarin, and Gaudreau. He doesn’t seem to get nearly the pub that others in the highest-echelon of scorers get, but that’s what he is.

And what’s more is that he hasn’t always needed Bergeron to produce. Whereas Marchand’s metrics crater without his center, Pastrnak’s hold steady. While together they produce a nearly 60% CF%–and over three years that’s just stupid–Pastrnak’s away from Bergeron’s hold at 50%. This season that difference is smaller at 57% to 53%. Over his career, the scoring-chance percentage difference for Pastrnak with and without Bergeron is 60%-50%. It’s the same this year, though Bergeron has the same spilts without #88. The high-danger chances are the closest marks, both at 55%-53% split over Pasta’s career and this year. For comparison’s sake, Marchand’s numbers dip into the 40% ranger without Bergeron.

Pastrnak isn’t the deadliest shooter you’ll find, as his 14% or thereabouts shooting-percentage doesn’t have him anywhere near the top marksmen. He’s 11th in total shots, so he gets there through volume, averaging over three shots per game. And when you’re skating with Bergeron most of the time, you’ll be in the right end enough. Pastrnak should probably be shooting even more, but defers to his linemates.

That does leave this Bruins team in something of a conundrum. They clearly lack scoring beyond the top line, and that’s if David Backes is in the lineup as he can’t do much anymore. It’s clear that Marchand needs Bergeron, but would slotting Pastrnak with David Krejci on the second line give opponents more to think about? The Bruins can one-line-ending-the-world their way through the regular season, and that’ll probably see them easily gain the third playoff spot in the Atlantic, though they’re still tangled up with Montreal and Boston for that and the wild card spots.

But when the spring rolls around, can you beat Tampa or Toronto with just one line? The Leafs might not have a defense, but they can throw Matthews or Tavares and Bergeron and at least hope to break even, and then watch their greater depth run the Bruins over. That’s basically what happened against the Lightning last year. Would Pastrnak-Krejci at least be a different question to ask teams? The Bruins might have to think about it.

Considering the numbers he puts up, Pastrnak’s $6.6M hit is a borderline steal. Which is good, because the Bs are clearly going to need to bring in another winger or two in the summer if they want another run with Bergeron and Chara still around. At only 22, it’s a little frightening to think where Pastrnak could go from here. If the Bruins have to move on from this era to the next one soon, it’s clear whom they are going to do that around.

 

Game #42 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

Days Of Y’Orr was once a great hockey site. But like anything that burns so brightly, it can’t last forever. Out of the rubble though we still have Marshall. You can follow him on Twitter @MarshallDOY. 

Three quarters of the B’s roster caught the plague this season at some point, or so it seems. So how does Bruce Cassidy keep it afloat?

The short answer is that Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak are just really, really good. Even without Patrice Bergeron for a massive stretch, the Bruins managed to go 9-6-1 thanks to the play of the two wingers. It helps that people forget how good David Krejci is. He’s been perpetually saddled by mediocre linemates since Jarome Iginla‘s departure, but while filling in for Bergeron, he managed 14 points in 16 games.

Despite using 12 different defensemen this year, including John Moore and Steven Kampfer, the Bruins have actually allowed the fewest even strength goals in the league. It defies logic. They are getting above-average goaltending, but let’s discuss that.

Jaro Halak seems to have at least earned a splitting of starts with Duke Tuuke’m, if not the #1 job overall. Do you expect that to continue or will he return to being Jaro Halak soon?
 
Right now, Halak gives the Bruins the best chance to win games. Tuukka Rask, however, will always give them the best chance to win a championship. Rask has always been a feast or famine goalie; he’ll drop some major turds, but then look like a Vezina contender for months at a time. What’s worrying me this year is that he hasn’t gotten enough of a chance to get into a rhythm in favor of riding the hot hand. It’s a great short-term plan, but Halak hasn’t won a playoff series in about a decade. If Rask can’t re-gain his crease soon, it does not bode well for the team’s postseason hopes.
Is Charlie McAvoy good? Other than being a moon-faced mouth-breather, we know the offense is there but every time we look up he seems to be in the trail position defensively.
I don’t know if we have enough of a sample size to accurately judge McAvoy’s season yet. He missed half of October and all of November with a concussion. When he has been on the ice, he’s been giving up a lot of shots, but not a lot of goals. I can live with that out of a 21-year-old defenseman who makes the kind of offensive contribution he does. Like I mentioned earlier, the blue line has been a rotating cast of warm bodies this year, so once that settles down, a little stability will do wonders for Charlie.
Is this Zdeno Chara‘s last season?
 
No. Shut up. Zdeno Chara will play until he’s 80 and he’ll still be in better shape than all of us.
When fully healthy can the Bruins throw a scare or more into the Leafs or Lightning in the spring? Are they more than just the best all around line in hockey plus?
 
This is a team that will win a first round series and then get bounced. Apart from the top line, they are pretty average in every way. There was a lot of hope that the Bruins could build on the progress they made last year, but with so many injuries, younger players have been forced to play above their development level to skate big minutes. When everyone is healthy and in the right slot, they can get a chance to learn and improve, but that just hasn’t happened yet this year. Rather than taking a step forward they have stood still while Tampa and Toronto have continued to blossom. But man is that Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line fun to watch though.

 

Game #42 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

Some free agent news breaking the past couple days, which is rare for August but hey we’ll take it.

-Today, the Edmonton Oilers signed Leon Draisaitl to an eight-year, $65 million deal. Drice was coming out of his entry deal, and the Oilers weren’t going to fuck around with a bridge deal, just like they didn’t with Run CMD who starts taking home $12 million a year starting the season after this upcoming one.

And nor should they.

Everything Else

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Game Time: 6:00PM CST
TV/Radio: WGN, NHLN (US), SportsNet (Canada), WGN-AM 720
Who’s Your Favorite New Kid? Call Me Joey: Days of Y’Orr

From one state with legal weed to another, tonight the Hawks find themselves in Boston to take on a B’s team that is once again teetering on the edge of missing the playoffs for a third straight year, and rumors of Claude Julien’s giant bald head being on the chopping block dominate any discussion about the Bruins.