Everything Else

When I was a child, I had this one specific Spider-Man action figure that I loved playing with. Inside the creativity of my chilhood mind, that little Spider-Man was not just Spidey, but he was also a professional baseball/football/hockey player, soldier, what have you, depending on the day and my mood. But one day I dropped that Spider-Man action figure in a parking lot without knowing it, and he got run over by a car, and when I found him I was in tears. My mom loves to tell the story of me sobbing about Spider-Man and me declaring I had lost my “best friend,” as I put it through my tears. Now, dear reader, you are probably thinking “what the fuck is this guy is talking about this for?” Good question. My point is Gustav Forsling may need to be run over in a parking lot.

Stats

43 GP, 3 G, 4 A, 9 P

47.81 CF% – 43.73 xGF% [5v5]

It Comes With A Free Frogurt!

Listen, I am not trying to take an easy way out here — I have very little good to say about Gustav Forsling based on 2018-19. It honestly just feels like trying to make anything sort of positive sweeping declaration about his season would be either stretching the truth to an almost irresponsible extent. There are not many redeeming moments I can think of or point to that would give me reason to say, “sure, but look at that!” And the thing about it is, I can’t really for the life of me figure out why.

If there was any redeeming quality about Forsling, it’s that he has the tools to at least be a not terrible player. He has the stride. He has the hands. He has the vision with the puck. He can pass, skate, shoot, whatever. In a vacuum, it all looks like it’s there. Then you take it out of the vacuum, put him on the ice of an NHL game, and he’s like a 3-year-old trying to hit a pinata – either someone is losing an apendage or there will be guts spilled all over the floor, or perhaps both. I don’t know what it is about this young man in his own defensive zone, but he seems to have no clue what to do when it comes to playing defense. And as a, uh, defenseman, that’s a bit of a problem.

But again, if he was a baseball prospect, you’d grade most his tools in the 50-55 range, meaning average or slightly above. But the thing about tools is that without a proper toolbox (player) and tradesman (coaching), they’re going to go to waste. Forsling still needs to put it all together, and he still has barely played more than 100 games at the NHL level. But the time is quickly running out, especially if the Hawks pick Bowen Byram at No. 3 this year.

The Frogurt Is Also Cursed

So let’s talk a bit about what actually makes him so damn bad. As referenced above, Forsling is clueless as far as what to do on the ice in an NHL game, especially in his own zone. I’m not sure if the game is just too fast for him, but it kinda looks that way. He looks like he can’t fully process everything going on around him properly in real time, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record I again note that it’s particularly noticeable when he is in the defensive zone. To take it a step further than that, it almost feels like he’s altogether lost when the other team has the puck, regardless of where it is on the ice. He doesn’t pinch well in the offensive zone, he doesn’t position himself well in the neutral zone on the way back, which leads to bad positioning in the d-zone. It’s all ugly.

On top of all of that, the things that it appears in the vacuum he does well, like skate and pass, end up falling apart in practice. If you had an iso-cam on him, you might watch him grab a puck behind the net, skate it out and make a pass, and it would look fine. Again, the vacuum view is fine. Zoom out, though, and you’ll see the pass is across his own zone to the right wing on the far board and he’s trying to thread the needle between the two forecheckers. It’s another processing error, thinking he can do something that he cannot, that stems from not being able to keep up with the game mentally.

I had high hopes for Forsling from the moment he was traded to the Hawks because the reports seemed promising. At one point, and I am not proud of this, I said from what I had seen of him I thought he could be the next Duncan Keith. I walked that back quickly and said the next Nick Leddy. I wrote it in his 2017-18 player preview, and then in his review for the same season I remained high on him because the tools were still there. I don’t think I am wrong on that at all (save for the suggestion he play with Seabrook, because we all saw how that went). But again, Forsling is either not the proper toolbox to put those tools together, or CCYP is not the proper tradesman to put it together for him. But Quenneville wasn’t either, based on the usage. So who would be? At a certain point, the least common denominator is the player himself.

At this point, I cannot in good conscience pencil Forsling into any future plans for this team. I think his best value to the organization moving forward may be as a potential trade chip. That would require other teams to be willing to take on a bad player, but as long as Peter Chiarelli has a job you know there’s at least one team who fits the bill.

Everything Else

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Now that the Hawks games mean nothing, it’s hard to imagine getting worked up about these games in any way, and yet seeing them play their asses off and outplaying the Blues, I found myself sitting on my couch feeling like this guy. As a wrestling fan myself, I can empathize with feeling emotionally invested in something you know isn’t what it’s presented as, and tonight that was me, constantly battling this desire for the Hawks to not drop themselves farther down the draft lottery (which, they can’t climb much higher anyway, so that’s dumb too) and rooting like hell for them to beat the Blues. Some things are bigger than logic. Fuck you St. Louis. Let’s do this:

– Just about everyone at this here site was unavailable to some extent tonight, so I took up the sword but still missed the first period. When I got the game on with about 17 left in the second, I was pretty surprised by how competitive and hard the Hawks were playing in this game despite the games now being meaningless as I said before. It was clear from the quotes from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane today that these guys are pissed off about missing the playoffs again, and they definitely channeled that into a desire to fuck over the Blues and their playoff seeding hopes. There were still plenty of gaffes in here on the Hawks end, and we will talk about a few of them, but seeing them respond was at least notable, I think. If only they had cared about this season a few months ago. Maybe they can actually carry this piss and vinegar into next year.

– It’s still hilarious to me that the Hawks got Dylan Strome for Nick Schmaltz. Not that Schmaltz wasn’t and isn’t a fine player (though now one that is WAY overpaid), but we definitely knew what he was by the time the Hawks sent him to the desert for Strome, who had barely gotten enough of a sniff of the NHL to have any conclusion that he couldn’t hit the ceiling that was once considered very high. And yeah, his shortcomings are there, and have been all year. But dammit if he doesn’t make up for it enough with the vision and hands, and the pass he made to Kane tonight on the third Hawks goal was just another example of that. The Hawks are definitely coming out on top of this one.

– Let’s talk about some gaffes. Firstly, Seabrook and Forsling were out there together again tonight. Not for long, but any shifts of those two together is too many. That’s the whole gaffe. Please stop that. EDIT– Forsling didn’t play tonight, I just stink at paying attention to who’s out there. I guess I’ve just been traumatized by 7-42 so often that I just expect it even when it isn’t happening.

– Now the elephant in the room, which at this point has now sat on and destroyed your couch, coffee table, recliner, and television: Duncan Keith could not give less of a fuck about playing hockey for Jeremy Colliton. Truthfully, I wish I could show the level of contempt and disinterest in my job that this guy does and still have the level of job security he does. We know the give a shit meter was already on zero, but he just about sent it negative tonight, particularly on the Blues third goal. To have little interest in playing well at this point can be understood, given that the Hawks are fucked, but to just have no intent to even feign effort at this point is almost impressive.

– And that brings us to an important thought – the Hawks might have to pick between the wife and the dog this summer. It’s clear that the wife (Keith, because he’s made our lives better for years and we never appreciate him enough) does not want the dog (Colliton, because he’s smelly and keeps shitting himself everywhere) around any longer. But as can happen, we may see this summer that the Hawks have overcommitted themselves to the dog. Perhaps these two will come to an agreement over the summer. Maybe an addition of a real defenseman that can partner with him will turn Keith’s give-a-shit meter back up. Maybe Colliton really will get motherfucked into becoming a good coach by this blog. Maybe neither happen and we’re stuck in a bad marriage with a stupid dog (I don’t hate dogs, I love them, but this one is stupid) and we will be miserable again for another year. Who knows! Eat at Arby’s.

– We almost made it, folks. Two more.

Everything Else

It could’ve be more fitting of a situation than for the Blackhawks to play well against a few decent/good teams (or at least teams in playoff spots in the West) when I don’t have to pay a huge load of attention, only to then take a dump all over all 200 feet of ice when I am on wrap duty. No, this isn’t about me, but something about them playing their worst game this month when the most pro-tank FFUD writer is locked in is kinda hilarious. And yeah, up until the last 8 or so minutes, this might’ve been one of the worst performances of the year for this team. Let’s do it, and see if I can find much to say:

– The Hawks really were lucky to be down one for as long as they were in this one, because they were getting killed by Vancouver for nearly the entire first 50+ minutes. Even when the Hawks were on the power play at times, it didn’t feel like they had the advantage. Vancouver just looked like the hungrier team, kind of being everywhere defensively, which was really the extent of their gameplan – defend well and hope to sneak shit in when the chances come. Not coincidentally, the Hawks are built to basically do the opposite, so it’s a smart gameplan from the Canucks. And in the end it worked. They should’ve had a bigger lead and were unfortunately stuck with just a 1-goal lead for most of the game, and forced to play an unnecessary overtime against a Hawks team that got a point from this one that they didn’t deserve.

– Let’s talk a little bit about what led to some of that Vancouver dominance. Primarily, this question – why are Brent Seabrook and Gustav Forsling on the ice at the same time ever? To have those guys on the ice together at any time is inexcusable, and at one point it led to a very-extended offensive possession by Vancouver in the second period that resulted in a few good scoring chances, though no goals. Had it not been Crawford back there, they would’ve been murdered for it. You can’t have the blind leading the blind in your defensive zone with a long change.

– Another important defensive question – why is Erik Gustafsson the defensman of choice to be the solo-dolo blue liner on the ice with Kane and Toews in the overtime period? I understand the idea of trying to generate offense, but that’s basically what you have Daydream Nation out there to do. And sure, the pickings are slim in terms of capable defensemen who are capable of playing very good defense in OT, but if you have 19 and 88 together, you don’t need 56 to generate anything. Put Murphy back there and shore yourself up in case you lose the faceoff and face a rush – oh shit, that’s what happened! Gustafsson got burned and Crawford got beaten by a shot he wouldn’t have had to face if his defenseman could keep his shit together in the zone.

– By now if you pay attention to the bylines (or just the opening to this) you know that I, Adam, am of the mind that the best thing long-term for this team is being not good. I’ve written it in back-to-back years, basically advocating for a tank I knew wouldn’t and couldn’t come. I think losing and maximizing the draft selection is the best route forward. With that being said, watching this team play like complete garbage after a string of good performances is beyond frustrating. I have never thought they were a very good team, and their last really meaningful win over a truly good team was in January. But shit, when you know that they are capable of competent, good hockey, watching them play incompetent, awful hockey, is difficult. Let’s just win the lottery, draft Jack Hughes, sign Erik Karlsson, and be good next year, okay?

Everything Else

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Corsica

Just when you thought the Hawks had pulled their shit together, they played the Stars again to remind everyone that they’re not that good at stuff sometimes. To the bullets:

– Proving yet again that wins and losses, and a team’s record in general really, can be deceptive in this league, one would have thought that the won-five-in-a-row Hawks would have wrestled a win out of this, especially since the Stars have been on a (brief) losing streak. But alas, this did not go the way you thought. And early on the Hawks didn’t even play that badly. They hit the post twice in the first half of the game, and that was kind of a metaphor for their night: trying to do the right thing, attempting to put yourself in the right place at the right time, but just striking out. This game could easily have been tied at three midway in the second, if the posts had gone another way and if Bishop hadn’t robbed Kane of his 300th goal early in the first period. Coulda woulda shoulda.

– Naturally with a loss by four goals one suspects shitty goaltending, but as so often happens with the Hawks it was actually shitty defense. Well, let me qualify that: it was shitty defense mostly by a couple guys, and I’ll give you three guesses who it was, but you really only need one. Seabrook and Forsling were bumbling around the net, particularly on the fourth goal. Not that the fourth one was the goal that changed the game, but it signaled that the fork had truly been stuck in the Hawks before they even got to the third period. Meanwhile, Michal Kempny did things like break up a dangerous 2-on-1 in the second, and he played much of the game with Connor Murphy, who also had three shots. I liked the two of them together, but if it comes at the cost of having Seabrook and Forsling being paired up, then it’s not really worth it. Hopefully this doesn’t give Q an opening to put Kempny back in the press box.

– Obviously it would have been great if Crawford had stood on his head, but don’t let that dismal .818 save percentage fool you—he had morons in front of him most of the night. It would have been worse if not for some key stops by Crow throughout the game.

– The Hawks led in possession and shots, but the Stars had all the momentum once Jamie Benn scored the first goal (maybe he took Fels’ advice from earlier today? I mean, it’s what we all really want so…maybe good for him?). Tyler Seguin’s first goal came on a power play for Hartman’s tripping penalty, so I guess we should expect Heart Man to get the press box treatment this weekend.

– Speaking of the press box, it’s hard to argue that Patrick Sharp would have changed this game in any meaningful way, but it’s also hard to argue that Panik did. Weiner Anxiety’s possession numbers were above water (59 CF%), but he wasn’t particularly noticeable.

– Before it turned into a blowout, there was a lot of stupid posturing by guys on both sides. I guess it’s not that surprising given that these teams have played each other like 15 times already, but it definitely had the feel of a nature show where the male of the species puts on a gratuitous display of hopping around and showing off plumage to chase away rivals.

It was a frustrating loss, no doubt, since it’s a division opponent and they were tied in points going in. But shit happens—nights like this just happen sometimes and it didn’t look like the bottom fell out, they just took a step back after taking a few forward. With the streaky nature of things lately, we should be equally prepared for them to crap the bed for a while or inexplicably bounce back against a good team. Onward and upward.