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
Box
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)
Box
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.

Hockey

It’s been a hot minute since this fair website did one of these, and for a while this season the team hasn’t looked that horrible in 12 years. Although we’ve seen some improvement over the past 25-ish games with Derek King at the helm, the Hawks are still fraught with issues that will take quite a few years to fix. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

The Dizzying Highs

Alex DeBrincat – God help him if he ever leaves us. The Cat has been the main scorer as of late, netting a quarter of the Blackhawks goals so far this season. His offense is so valued that he has been bumped down to the second line to try and generate more chances with Toews and Kubalik, and it worked out well for Kubalik last game as he was able to score on a play set up by the Cat. DeBrincat is also the pity representative for the Hawks at the All-Star Game this year, and it is well-deserved considering the plethora of highlight-reel goals he has scored for us this season.

Defensive Improvement – Compared to the galaxy-brained Systems that Jeremy Colliton was forcing on young and impressionable hockey players, Marc Crawford has been able to help restructure the back end so they give up slightly less chances than they did before, and look better while doing so. Under Colliton, the team had a 46.3 CF% and under King they’ve improved slightly to 47.2%. Their newer, grinding style has almost everyone playing more defensive-mindedly, preferring to get greasier goals at the net or waiting for Kane or the Cat to work their magic. It also helps the defense that the Hawks are getting better goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury, as the man continues to garner up wins and another shutout or two for his storied career.

The Terrifying Lows

The Offense – It’s gotten a little bit better as of late, but more guys are definitely going to need to step up in the immediate and distant future, especially considering we can likely kiss this year’s first-round draft pick goodbye. Kane and DeBrincat are in on 35% of the team’s goals, and after them the top points-producer is Seth Jones with 25 points (22 assists). The 3rd-highest scorer on the team is Brandon Hagel, who is tied with Kane for 9 goals. Kubalik has recently been picking up the pace with two goals over the past two games after a six-game pointless streak, and hopefully he can continue to produce because God knows we need it. The Hawks have the 4th-worst goals for per game in the league with 2.37, and because of it there is a very low margin for error for the defense in order for the Hawks to pull out a win these days.

Future Goaltending – Let’s be honest: the Blackhawks will be a bit of a stopover for Marc-Andre Fleury. Although I’m not sure the Hawks will be able to deal him at the trade deadline because of how hesitant he’s been in the past to uproot his family to a new city, he will become a free agent this summer and I think it’s unlikely the Hawks will re-sign him. Kevin Lankinen’s contract will also be up this summer, and although he’s been a serviceable backup, his numbers don’t exactly scream NHL starter: .884 save percentage, .899 at evens this year? No thanks. Arvid Soderblom is next in the pipeline, but at only 22 years old and playing his first season in North America, he will need more time before getting thrown to the wolves in front of this team. It will be interesting to see how the Hawks deal with this glaring issue in the offseason.

The Mushy Middles

Derek King – It wasn’t hard to rise up from rock bottom, which is where Coach Cool Youth Pastor left this team when he got fired. But interim coach Derek King has been serviceable so far. Everyone keeps talking about how much more confident they are on the ice, although that doesn’t stop Kane from looking like he doesn’t give a shit if his team is losing during a mid-January game. (And can anyone blame him?) They’ve had a lower goals against per game with King: 2.92 vs. Colliton’s 3.91. However, after a 4-game win streak to begin King’s tenure with the Hawks, they leveled out a bit with a 14-9-3 record, which included a six-game losing streak and another four-game winning streak. He’s doing about as much as can be expected with the current roster, but it’s still hard for me to see him staying on as the permanent head coach unless Marc Crawford becomes The Man Behind the Curtain. And if that happens, then God help us all.

Landon Slaggert? – I recently watched the Hawks’ 2020 3rd round draft pick have a career game against Ohio State on Friday night, where he absolutely dominated offensively. He scored a goal and assisted on the other two Notre Dame scored, including the overtime winner. And the Hawks coaching staff should be pleased to hear he showed GRIT and HEART when he flattened a Buckeye and took a roughing penalty in the 2nd period, watched as the Bucks couldn’t complete a single successful zone entry in the ensuing powerplay, and scored minutes after coming out of the box. He was super quick on his feet and might be able to max out as a Brandon Hagel-like surprise success in the NHL. Granted, this is all after seeing by far his best game of his college career so far, so maybe I need to temper my expectations. He’s still a few years away from being able to sniff the NHL, but at least there could be SOMETHING bubbling down the pipeline.

Hockey

Box Score: Game 33 | Game 34
Game Logs: Game 33 | Game 34
Natural Stat Trick: Game 33 | Game 34

 

Yes, I am covering my ears and refusing to hear anything you’re saying about Alex Barkov being out, rendering these wins meaningless. The Blackhawks HAD to get points this weekend and they did. Let’s celebrate that and hope that this series gives the Hawks the confidence to continue playing good…ish down the stretch.

We all recognized the things the Blackhawks needed to do to succeed against the Panthers this series: solid defense, good goaltending, Patrick Kane back on the offensive, getting the powerplay going again and not taking dumb penalties. They were able to do a solid 2½ of these things. Let’s take a look at what went down. To the bullets!

  • As we are all aware of by now, Kubalik has not been getting the minutes he deserves. But I like his play on the second line with Brandon Hagel. They had a really nice goal on Tuesday, with Hagel able to make a pass through a defender to Kubalik in front of the net, who was able to slip it past Driedger. If you enjoy statistics, the Hagel-Kampf-Kubalik line leads the team in expected goals percentage by a bit of a margin at 68.4%. More please.
  • With the Blackhawks’ solid win on Tuesday, it was no surprise they won the possession battle there. They dominated in the 1st period with a 60 CF%, and then stayed slightly under 50% possession in the 2nd and 3rd periods to end the game just edging out the Panthers in this metric. Tonight, however, the Blackhawks went back to their loveable old selves, getting completely skulled in possession throughout the entire game. The Panthers are a top-10 possession team in the league, so I’m just glad we got out of this series without too much damage.
  • Numbers-wise, theoretically, Chris Driedger is one of the better goalies in the league. Of active goalies who have started 10+ games in the NHL this season, he’s 10th in the league in goals against average and 6th in save percentage. Bobrovsky’s numbers push him much further down the list. Neither goaltenders looked spectacular this series against the Hawks, exposing this team that obviously finds success in outscoring their goaltending woes. With their top scorer in Barkov out and Lankinen playing on his head, it just seemed to be a little too much for Florida. They have a playoff spot all but locked up anyway and Barkov should be back soon, so this will probably just be a series they will quickly forget.
  • As long as Nikita Zadorov is on this team, you can subtract as many months off my life expectancy. I have truly had it with this oaf. He had an assist Tuesday but at this point I do not care. He took two penalties tonight, the second one a truly magical hit that laid out Patric Hornqvist and gave the Panthers a critical powerplay chance in the 3rd. Oh, and Zadorov skated completely out of position to take this hit, because WHAT IS DEFENSE.
  • One of the things the Blackhawks needed to do in order to get back into the win column was getting Patrick Kane to show some life. He had two points total in the four games prior to this series (though he was trying his best to get something going with 16 total shots on goal during that time). Kane boasted 4 points in the series and has continued to create chances for others, becoming the assist king as of recent. Thanks for sharing the wealth, Kaner.
  • The Hawks did a good job limiting their penalty kill time in Tuesday night’s game, and it definitely paid off. They only took two penalties and only allowed one powerplay goal from the Panthers. (To compare, in the series from hell against Tampa last week they took six total penalties and allowed two powerplay goals.) Progress? I guess. Thursday’s game was certainly another story, however, as stupid penalties (and calls) were had by all. However, the Blackhawks were able to kill the whopping six penalties thanks to Kevin Lankinen playing at an elite status.
  • Speaking of Lanks, he did a good job of keeping the Blackhawks in it Thursday after a Duclair crossbar reignited the Panthers’ offense for a time. He also made some big saves towards the end of the second after getting clunked in the head. And he also saved a three-on-none chance because again, WHAT IS DEFENSE. The takeaway here is that Kevin Lankinen saved the day, stopping 41 shots. His rebound control still occasionally makes me cringe, but hopefully that will…improve with time?

The Blackhawks get to face off against the Nashville Predators this weekend, who just crushed the Detroit Red Wings and had some guy named Rocco Grimaldi score a hat trick in the 1st period of the game. The Predators are vying for the fourth playoff spot and dropping this series against them would tie us in the standings. Even splitting the series would bring the Predators too close for comfort to the fourth-place spot. It’s going to be another sweep-or-bust situation. Let’s go Hawks.

Hockey

Box Score: Game 29 / Game 30
Game Logs: Game 29 / Game 30
Natural Stat Trick: Game 29 / Game 30

The Blackhawks blew another lead? Again? This team? Are you sure? Is this déjà vu?

It’s not déjà vu, friends. The Blackhawks have blown 7 of 9 total multi-goal leads since the beginning of February, which is a staggering, incomprehensible statistic. I’m trying to be positive down here because there are still some individual efforts by players to like. Alex DeBrincat’s third-year renaissance is relieving and exciting to watch. Kane is still scoring goals, or at least being an integral part of setting up the goals. Lankinen is making highlight-reel saves (and let’s be honest, he can’t save all of them). The young kids are simultaneously fun-yet-terrifying to watch. But there’s also obviously some not great going on here that you can’t just ignore. Let’s take a look at the bullets, shall we?

  • Everyone’s adopted son Brandon Hagel showed up to this series, getting a goal in both games. Tonight’s goal kind of fell into his lap, but he was positioned well in front of the net to give the Hawks the 3-1 lead-that-once-was. Hagel is finally seeing production come out of his offensive flashes, and that should be good for his development. Screw it, keep throwing him out there.
  • Speaking of development, one day Boqvist will be a defenseman who will be crushing it every night. But right now we have to take the good with the bad. He had one of the Hawks’ two goals on Saturday and did a great job breaking up a 2-on-1 Verhaeghe chance in the 1st on Saturday. He was also not looking good during the first Panthers goal on Saturday and had some dicey plays tonight, so he definitely has room for improvement. Overall, I like watching him and I know he will continue in that positive trajectory.
  • The Hawks were able to be the first ones on the board on Saturday night with a beautiful Hagel/Kubalik passing play, where both were able to out-speed the speedy Panthers. However, the fun didn’t last long as the Panthers were able to score three goals in that same period. The first goal went off a Lankinen rebound, the second goal was a one-timer from beyond the circles, and the third was shot right in front of the net because Nikita Zadorov didn’t feel like playing defense, I guess. A valiant effort, everyone!
  • Penaltypalooza Night Two happened tonight with a ridiculous 9 penalties all game. Once again, just like the last Tampa game, the opponents were able to capitalize on these powerplay opportunities (and one shorthanded opportunity) and the Hawks were not. Taking irredeemably stupid penalties over and over again and not being able to kill them is not a winning formula. It’s costing us games and points. Every time I mention the penalties I say, “please end it, thank you.” And they never do. So I give up here.
  • The revolving door of centers for Kane and the Cat continued tonight, as it seems like every active center on this team now has tried out with them this series and nobody has really stuck. It shows our lack of depth at center with Toews and Dach still out. Hopefully Dach will be back soon and will be able to slot back in there for a dynamite line, if our playoff hopes are still alive by then.

The Blackhawks’ hellacious schedule doesn’t let up, as we are back to face the Tampa Bay Lightning through the weekend. Last series was incredibly entertaining, the definition of FUN hockey. Hopefully the Hawks’ confidence isn’t shot after this series and they will come in ready to play, and more of that FUN will ensue. Onward.

Hockey

Box Scores: Game 17 | Game 18
Game Logs: Game 17 | Game 18
Natural Stat Trick: Game 17 | Game 18

The scoresheet says the Hawks won these games, sure, but it is a bit concerning that they were losing the possession battle to the league’s bottomfeeding Detroit Red Wings four out of the six periods of hockey played. Something needs to be done about that. Let’s get to the bullets.

  • It’s never good news when the Red Wings are beating you in possession, but that’s exactly what happened in the 1st and 3rd periods of both The Red Wings had all the momentum in the 1st period Monday, sporting an obscene 73 CF%. Luckily, starter Malcolm Subban was able to make some important saves, long enough for the Hawks to score on their first shot thanks to a nifty Carl Soderberg pass to Mattias Janmark.
  • With numbers like those, it’s impressive the Hawks won the game in overtime, thanks to a late Dominik Kubalik five-hole with just 15 seconds left in extras. This is good news because the Blackhawks are trash in a shootout and very legitimately could have lost if it had come to that.
  • The Blackhawks also got domed in the 3rd period of Monday’s game to the tune of a 26 CF%, and the Wings also won the possession game in the 1st and 3rd periods of last night’s tilt at 55 and 59%, respectively. This is actually not a new trend, as a similar situation happened to the Blackhawks in the Blue Jackets game on the 11th. Generally, the Blackhawks seem to get crushed possession-wise but use their powerplay abilities to get past teams and win games in OT.
  • Brandon Hagel continues to shine in every way but scoring. On Monday night, Hagel had a great pass to Kubalik to get the second Blackhawks goal at the end of the 1st. We still await a goal of his own, but he’s definitely fun to watch.
  • The Red Wings powerplay really was the steaming pile of hot garbage the numbers told us it would be. I really thought I’d never see a powerplay as bad – worse, even – as the Hawks of yore, but this really was horrendous. Even more horrendous is that there’s an NHL team with a worse powerplay – congratulations, Minnesota Wild!
  • Speaking of Red Wings power plays, a too many men penalty while you are up a skater against a dumpster fire penalty kill team is completely unacceptable coaching-wise. We were lucky the Red Wings powerplay sucks enough that a goal wasn’t scored – against a good team, we would not have been so lucky.
  • The Blackhawks had another great powerplay goal last night by Philipp Kurashev, who received a pass by Duncan Keith and then outskated and outmaneuvered two Red Wings like it was nothing, going five-hole on Bernier. I like Kurashev and he’s just getting more and more fun to watch as he gets more confident on the ice.
  • If this had been literally any other team, that attempt with a little over four minutes left in the 3rd period of last night’s game would’ve been a goal. Lankinen slid way out of position and only by the grace of God did the Red Wings miss on a legitimately wide-open net.
  • I don’t know where the Hawks get off on playing Zadorov in the final minutes of every game, but please stop; it burns my eyes.

The Blackhawks head south on their road trip this weekend to battle the Carolina Hurricanes, who will not be as forgiving if we continue with these possession numbers (which we will). The Hawks are going to need to figure out a way to not flounder in this metric and also win games without going into extra time if they want to continue being a FUN PLAYOFF CONTENDER or whatever the journalists think this team is. Onward!

Hockey

Game 1 Box Score / Game 2 Box Score

Game 1 Natural Stat Trick / Game 2 Natural Stat Trick

 

So this series is a little tough to judge. On the surface, the Hawks got beat in both games while getting outshot by a collective 61 to 40. Which, ya know, isn’t good. If you dig a little deeper, they also got skulled in possession metrics AND their coach got all angry face and yelled at them. BUT! Malcom Subban and Kevin Lankinen played very very well and may have gotten the team two points by themselves where they should have gotten zero. The Hawks now are the proud owners of a 5 game point streak. Hockey is dumb sometimes, folks!

TO THE BULLETS

 

-After the game Tuesday night, Coach Smoothbrain put on his best Angry Face and told reporters that he was NOT HAPPY about the team’s effort that night. He was mad about the forecheck. He was mad about the backcheck. He was mad about Kane not getting enough shots. He was mad (FINALLY FIGURED IT OUT) that Zadorov is the hockey equivalent of an NFL endzone pylon. He was just plain MAD. How did the team react to all of this MADNESS? By increasing their shot output from 19 to 23 and only losing the position battle 56% to 44% instead of 62% to 38%!  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

-Seriously though, the first game was not good. As you see above, the Hawks got domed in possession and in shot totals. Kane went almost 21 minutes at one point without taking a shot. The reason the Hawks were able to steal a point in that game was goaltending. Pekka Rinne seems to have had age finally catch up to him, and Malcom Subban was channeling the ghost of Dominik Hasek the whole night.

-Another solid game from Kevin Lankinen with the same result for his efforts that Subban got. If he keeps this up, Hawks fans are gonna start telling him he’s really not that good and it’s the D in front of him that makes his stats look so nice. That’s how you know you’ve really made it as a goalie in Chicago.

-While the Hawks were playing without one of their best PP weapons in Alex DeBrincat, they still managed to notch another goal Tuesday night when Strome slammed home a pretty nifty backhand pass from Andrew Shaw off a rebound. Strome needs all the time he can get in front of the net to up his trade value the next two months and plays like this will highlight that.

-Another positive is the increased ice time from Dominik Kubalik, breaking 18 minutes in both games. Granted he was held off the score sheet in the 2nd game and had an assist in the 1st so we’ll see where DA COACH goes from here.

-In other ice time news, Kane lead THE ENTIRE TEAM in time with 27 minutes the 2nd game. If the goal is to have him fall apart like a Castlevania skeleton in the 2nd half of the season, having him on the ice more than any defenceman is the way to do it.

-Anybody thinking Nashville might be a playoff team should probably stop huffing so much ether.

-Brandon Hagel wasn’t able to get on the scoresheet, but he was very noticeable out there in game two. His speed is something this team is sorely lacking, and I’m waiting for the day when he nets his first breakaway goal by leaving both teams in the dust. As McClure said on Twitter, he may not know where he’s supposed to be or where he’s going but he can get there really fucking fast.

-More Kurashev and less Jan-Wall Mark plz.

-Next up is Columbus, which just banished it’s best young player to the Alabama of Canada because he wouldn’t play the shitty boring style of hockey that Tortorella wanted him to play and then somehow got Patrik Laine out of the deal. Hockey is stupid sometimes, folks!

Hockey

Game 1 Box Score / Game 2 Box Score

Game 1 Natural Stat Trick / Game 2 Natural Stat Trick

 

 

I want to get all sarcastic about the results of this series and say that, duh, the Red Wings are a subway car filled with dead clowns and every team should pummel them into submission. The reality, however, is that in hockey even teams like the Wings win sometimes (just ask Carolina, if you can break into their quarantine), and nothing is guaranteed. So to see the Hawks come out and slap 10 goals down on the Scum is pretty nice, and since we aren’t gonna get a lot of nice shit this year I’m just gonna crack several cases of beer and enjoy it while it lasts.

 

TO THE BULLETS:

-First off, let us all celebrate the hat trick of Pius Suter today. Playing with Patrick Kane can make anyone look better, but he was positionally where he needed to be, and finished the dishes that he should’ve finished and for that he should be congratulated. That 3rd goal was a thing of beauty and if he can keep burying shots like that, The Pope may move from “A Guy” status all the way to “A Piece Of The Puzzle.”

-In other rookie news, Lankinen (while not facing the type of shot quality that he did in the COVID Coliseum) looked much more comfortable these last two games. He kept his net, cut down on the angles and was not nearly as itchy overall as he was in Florida. The goal he gave up in game 1 was due to what was essentially a breakaway after the entire Hawks team lost a board battle by the penalty box and Marc Staal sprung Dylan Larkin. Game 2 one of the goals was on a 5 on 3, so that’s no fault of his either. Good progress thus far.

-The Hawks powerplay is now officially A Thing. The goal they scored with some sick tic tac toe passing that resulted in a wide open cage even Andrew Shaw couldn’t miss was pretty as hell. The Hawks PP has collected 8 of the 19 goals the team has score thus far. While it’s completely unsustainable, it’s nice to watch a competent power play for once in the last 5 years.

-Minus Captain Rockhead, the Hawks D had a great couple of games offensively with both Conor Murphy and Calvin deHaan notching goals. Ian Mitchell continues to impress in his time on the ice, with only the lost board battle and subsequent Larkin goal in the 1st game as a blight. More please.

-All is not rosy in HawkWorld, however. Neither Kubalik, Kurashev or Hagel broke 14 minutes in either game. Disregarding Kurashev and Hagel’s inexperience, you have one of the best players on the team in Dominik Kubalik not breaking 15 minutes of ice time in either game. That’s just flat out fucking stupid, and there’s no excuse you could sell me to believe that Coach Smoothbrain even realizes it. Le Sigh.

-All that being said, 4 points is 4 points and now the Hawks get to head to Music City to take on the Preds after they just had 7 goals dropped on their collective heads by Dallas last night. A repeat performance by the Hawks would just about make my month, so let’s see that happen.

Onward!

Hockey

Game 1 Box Score / Game 2 Box Score

Game 1 Natural Stat Trick / Game 2 Natural Stat Trick

 

While this series was different in form and function from the other Florida series, the end result is the same: the Hawks got broomed out of the building (and the state) without a win to their name. The offense was less offensive to the eye this series, but the defense and goaltending continued to be eye-meltingly bad, with Nikita Zadorov impressively the worst of the bunch. Colin Delia and Kevin Lankinen did nothing to settle the argument over who should be the poor soul forced to take the reigns and handle the majority of the starts going forward, and honestly if I was one of them I’d probably already have PTSD from the amount of rubber thrown their way. On the plus side, the Hawks now have 1 out of a possible 8 points. Yay?

To the bullets:

 

-Let’s get this out of the way at the start: If the purpose of this season is to fail, but in a way that the supposed future core of this team is learning from it, then they should probably BE ON THE FUCKING ICE to fail and learn from it. Kubalik, Kurashev, Mitchell and Boqvist being on the ice for less than 15 minutes each while Patrick Kane gets as many minutes as Duncan Keith (20) accomplishes less than nothing. Ian Mitchell and Boqvist not even seeing the ice in the 3 on 3 OT is borderline criminal. Then trying to throw the scoreboard operators of the COVID Coliseum under the bus as to why everyone’s ice time looked kinda low is almost stunningly ballsy. McClure had it summed up perfectly:

-This team is not built to win games, but it’s also not built to lose them in a way that creates future winning opportunities. It’s just…there. None of the signings that StanBow acquired this off-season are going to be anything the Hawks want on their team long term, nor are they the kind of players that teams are going to be clamoring to trade said young talent for at the deadline. It’s like he just walked into IKEA and asked for the “Mark” collection of forwards because, ya know, they practically build themselves. Trading Brandon Saad to the Avs for the hockey equivalent of an Easter Island statue on skates and not getting anything else AND having to retain salary is mind boggling. The absence of a plan is what’s most frustrating about all of this. Say what you want about the White Sox and Rick Hahn, but you could always see what the end goal was and it made the suffering a little easier to take. Looking to the horizon now, all you see is the volcanic mountains of Mordor.

-Speaking of the human obelisk, Zadorov’s play in these first 4 games shows clearly why the Avs were more than willing to rid themselves of his services. Night one featured the following from him:

That’s Zadorov at the middle of the left circle after he plowed through the crease from right to left, taking out his goaltender and Adam Boqvist. This is after he followed Boqvist’s man (along with Boqvist) into the corner. His lack of positional awareness is bordering on performance art, and I really need someone to explain to me how he not only has a spot on this roster, but is worthy of the 2nd highest ice time on the team. GALAXY BRAIN.

-On the positive side, the Hawks have finally discovered what the Caps and Ovechkin figured out a decade ago: creating a shot lane for your best snipers (Kubalik and DeBrincat) by moving the puck laterally and letting them bomb away actually is a successful proposition. Not having Duncan Keith firing rubber into the shinpads of the point defenders or holding the puck on the half boards with Kane seems to be working. More of this please.

-Despite not cracking 15 minutes of ice time with Coach Smoothbrain, Dominik Kubalik is already proving that last season was not a fluke. His shot is filthy, and he has the speed and hands to create the space that makes him dangerous. But hey, gotta find those minutes for Ryan Carpenter to do whatever it is he does.

-Kevin Lankinen showed some flashes last night, most notably whenhe was left to deal with a 3 on 1 in overtime and he stoned Weegar after a nifty passing sequence. I don’t know if he’s the answer going forward, but with Colin Delia and Malcom Subban pretty much known entities at this point, you may as well throw him to the wolves night after night.

-Next up is the rekindling of the old rivalry against the Red Wings, which might actually provide the Hawks the opportunity to get into the win column. The Hawks and Wings should be battling it out for a lottery pick this season, though none of us should feel comfortable about how Stan Bowman would use such a boon. Moving on.

Hockey

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

They got farther than they should have. Some of the kids showed flashes of brilliance. Others looked everything from odious to unusable. We got a couple more classic games from one of our favorite guys. And all the while a coach. My oh my, a coach.

Jeremy Colliton is so revolutionary and paradigm shifting that even the things he does right he does wrong. Waiting until Game 5 of a Quarterfinal you didn’t belong in to scratch Alex Nylander had all urgency and foresight of cleaning out a toilet full of shit only after you’ve begun suffering from ambient sepsis. But given how exceedingly low he has set the bar for himself, that he scratched him at all is praiseworthy.

But then, he didn’t stop at dressing John Quenneville, oh no. He started him on the first line with Toews and Kubalik in an elimination game. Yeah, alright, make your point, whatever it is. But then he kept putting Quenneville out there. On purpose. In an elimination game. That line ended up with a 30 CF%. And a goal against. And Jeremy Colliton kept running it out there. On purpose. In an elimination game.

Fucking check THIS shit out. At the end of the second period, Brandon Saad shared the ice with Jonathan Toews for 16 seconds. In that time, they had a 3 CF, 0 CA, and a goal. In seven seconds—7 fucking seconds, dear reader—with Dominik Kubalik, they had a 2 CF, 0 CA, and a goal.

In what incomprehensible galaxy is it acceptable to skate John Quenneville over Brandon Saad on the first line? In an elimination game. If the very point of this experience was to get younger guys playoff experience, how does skating John Quenneville over Sikura, Hagel, Kurashev, or even Mackenzie THE OX Entwistle accomplish this? Please note that I cannot possibly care fucking less that John Quenneville is 24. He is a nice fourth liner if you are being generous. Fuck, Sikura can at least possess the puck at a better than 30+% rate. What has Sikura done to deserve such a ratfucking?

They aren’t going to fire Jeremy Colliton, but they should. He’s not the coach this team needs, and given their overall performance this year, he’s not the coach this team wants, either.

– The Saad–Strome–DeBrincat line was strong tonight. They dominated possession to the tune of a 61+ CF%. They also played the least of any of the four lines. Goddamn it, can’t you just feel the MINDBRAINS pulsing through your fucking skull? In an elimination game. This fuckin guy.

– We will miss Corey Crawford most of all. We will have tons to say, and it’ll all be a roundabout way of getting at thank you. If this was it, it was a wonderful ride.

– Watching Connor Murphy pull off a spin-o-rama and have an all-around good game was nice. Probably worth more to me than Alexis Lafreniere.

Kirby Dach said hello several times these playoffs. We like what we saw all year. Could stand to shoot more. But we’ll have thoughts on that later.

Adam Boqvist was bad these playoffs. Yeah, he’s barely 20, coached by some guy, and had no reliable backstop to build his puck moving around. And yeah, he went up against an overpowering Vegas team right after two of hockey’s best forwards. But even so, he was totally helpless on defense. Overpowered, outskated, and constantly out of position. You bet your ass we’re putting a lot of that on the clown’s funeral that is this coaching staff. But you get a sense that Boqvist was fundamentally lost out there these playoffs. We didn’t even get a flash of offensive prowess worth writing about. This is our concern dude.

The Hawks would be foolish to give up on him. Still too young, still needs to grow, and any number of excuses. They traded Henri Jokiharju in part because of how much they believed in him. To give up now would be absurd, albeit in Boqvist’s best interest. And yet, you worry.

I think that’s enough of that for now.

Thank you for reading and sticking with us in these unprecedented times. It was fun to have a taste of meaningful hockey, if only for a few weeks and entirely undeserved. We’ll keep doing this shit as long as you all keep reading it, because you’re all alright as a lot.

We’ll probably have some podcasts coming up. Hockey might take a little time off, but we’ll get you your player and coaching reviews. We may have a stray thought or two about the goings on in the bubble. Follow our Sox stuff and our football stuff. And we’ll always be at the forefront of arriving late, drinking all the wine, and throwing up in the misused bidet that is Blackhawks breaking news.

Until then, stay safe and do what you can.

Coranon silaria ozoo mahoke.