Hockey

Five games into a season-long six game homestand (albeit augmented by the schedule being altered on the fly by covid postponements), the Hawks find themselves 1-3-1 with one game remaining in it, in what could have been at least a half assed attempt to keep themselves remotely viable in hair brained wild card talk. But given the results of this weekend where they needed TWO hat tricks to get past a punchless Devils team, and were humiliated once again by the Blues this afternoon, it’s time to start stripping this team down to the floorboards, assuming a fucking GM is ever hired to have the authority and autonomy to do so.

2/25 – Hawks 8, Devils 5

Box Score
Event Summary
Natural Stat Trick

There have been a few games like this that the Hawks have deigned to break up the toil and drudgery for us during, where both the Hawks and their equally bad opponent manage to put on an entertaining hockey game for the true sickos who are actually still paying attention to this. Such was the case on Friday in a back and forth affair that had neither team particularly interested in defensive zone coverage, the Hawks less so, surrendering all five NJ goals at even strength. Kevin Lankinen made his first start in over a month, this time with a hand issue after a protracted covid absence earlier in the season. He didn’t look particularly sharp but really wasn’t done a whole hell of a lot of favors by the group in front of him. But at least they figured something out against the Devils’ PK (which has been above average), scoring 3 times, which ended up being the difference in the contest, the two empty-net Hat Trick cappers not withstanding. It had apparently been 19 years since Hawk teammates had pulled that off, with the legendary Steve Sullivan and Eric Daze each turning one.

 

2/27 – Blues 4, Hawks 0

Box Score
Event Summary
Natural Stat Trick

On to more dire matters, where the Hawks once again got utterly pantsed at home by a Blues team that clearly has zero respect for them. The Hawks played well enough in the first period to at least control the territorial battle, but without converting, there was a growing sense of the Blues simply playing with their food on a lazy mid-February matinee against an obviously overmatched opponent. A quick burst of effort got the Hawk defensemen scrambling wildly in their own zone, with Amy’s Youngest continually being the worst offender in this matter. Obviously he was brought here as a lure to his brother, but it’s been pretty evident that he just simply isn’t an NHL player. Erik Gustafsson was scratched and Jones was kept in the lineup somehow, which is one of the only times Gustafsson will get any kind of defense here on these airwaves. Isaak Philipps drew in, and it once again begs the question what the actual fuck are Ian Mitchell and Nicolas Beaudin doing still in Rockford when leadfooted dopes like Philipps and Alec Regula are here, and Regula is getting power play time to the abject horror of everyone bearing witness. None if this is helping the fact that the Hawks forward group has like a guy and a half who can finish at this point, so not getting literally anything from the back end and doing so on purpose with personnel decisions like this doesn’t seem to make a whole shitload of sense.

To add insult to all of this, smirking piece of shit David Perron was sitting on two goals late in the game when the Hawks went back to the box with about 90 seconds remaining. Coach Craig Berube, who in a past life was certainly an on ice fucking cop of a player, sent his first unit out in a 4-0 game to feed Perron one timers to try and complete a hat trick in a game that was already well in hand. Now these are professionals, not pee wees, so the Hawks get paid to prevent the other team from scoring. However, it’s highly doubtful that Craig Berube The Player would have appreciated such tactics or suffered through them without at least one attempted decapitation. Just further proof than any and every code in this game is abject fucking bullshit and everyone who has used it as rationale for anything is merely trying to justify their own dickhead actions.

The Oilers, the Flyers, and the Lightning are up next this week, and hopefully, lord willing, the Hawks will actually have someone in place who can unload some of this dead weight to the point where these games aren’t merely going through the fucking motions and some kids can get a legit look.

 

Everything Else

In the infancy of this Blackhawks era, one of the litmus tests I came across for whether you were a “real fan” was to know who Éric Dazé was. With his hulking hockey body, high expectations, and myriad injuries, Dazé inhabited the intersection of “good enough to know” and “not good enough for bandwagoners to know,” serving as a marker between the bona fides of bandwagon fans and fans “who had always been fans,” which is an eternal pissing contest that’s about as dumb as having Jordin Tootoo on your roster. Now, I’m hearing more and more rumblings about local boy John Hayden, with his hulking hockey body and high expectations, and I wonder, “Who is John Hayden, and will he be another Dazé measuring stick 20 years from now?”

2016–17 Stats

12 GP – 1 G, 3 A, 4 P

52.7 CF%, 61.9 oZS%, 38.1 dZS%

ATOI: 11:41

A Look Back: The Blackhawks signed Hayden to an entry-level contract last year, which our fearless leader Fels pegged as a move caused by being once bitten, twice shy over stairwell-shitter and professional thumb impersonator Kevin Hayes dumping the Hawks for the Rangers in 2014. When he came up in March last year, there were plaudits for his size and worries over his speed, but he managed to look OK over 12 games: a little bit better than “a guy” but certainly not a Dazé.

The most noticeable thing about Hayden after his size (6’3”, 223) was his much-improved skating. He even found himself on a line with Toews every so often, which is where he scored his first and only NHL goal. While his 4 points over 12 games is a far cry from the 34 in 33 he put up at Yale before his quick call up, the ECAC (which is the conference Yale plays in) isn’t typically a hotbed for hockey prospects.

There might be some promise in his CF%, which was 1.4% better than the team rate last year, but he only played 12 games and spent most of that time in the offensive zone. And you have to wonder whether Hayden is projected to be a “start in the offensive zone” kind of guy.

A Look Ahead: Given the likes of Saad, Schmaltz, Sharp, Wiener Anxiety, and DeBrincat, who figure to slot in and out of the top 2 lines, it’s less likely you’ll see Hayden up there. Though with DeBrincat getting into a fight at a fucking prospect tournament to show just how low his nuts swing, it’s possible that Q expects DeBrincat to SHOW MORE, which could open up a spot for Professor Hayden, who’s smart enough to see what a terrible fucking idea that would be.

For now, Johnny “The Brain” Hayden (sky point Bobby) figures to fight for a spot in the lower half of the lineup, but the only guys I’d take him over are Wingels and Tootoo, two of the suckiest bunch of sucks who ever sucked. Maybe if he impresses, he lines up on the right side on the 4th line, but then what? Q historically uses his 4th line as a defensive zone plug, and nowhere throughout his career has Hayden shown a talent or propensity for that. Hayden has made a name for himself by being the fat kid on the Kenny Hubbs team who threw 70 mph because he hit puberty at 9. That advantage goes away in the NHL.

Barring some sort of epiphany or major injury, Hayden probably slates to start the year in Rockford. If he can exceed what he did at Yale there, maybe he finds a spot on the bottom half, but again, it’s tough to see whom he replaces, since we don’t have any evidence that he can or will play the left side. But he is just 22, and he did show dedication to improving his skating at Yale, so it’s possible that he can mold his game to play as a right-handed left winger, replacing a guy like Lance Bouma if he ends up making me eat crow for believing in him. (Is this what it’s like to be a disappointed dad?)

So who is John Hayden? Hayden is a big, smart boy, but he’s no Dazé. He probably won’t be more than an answer to a trivia question in a few years (Who was the 20th Yale Bulldog to crack an NHL roster?). He’s the Atlas Shrugged of hockey players: not nearly as great as his proponents say, an overhyped tome of theoretical muck whose pedigree rests mostly on his size and standing out among the mediocre.

At least he’s got a sort of Hasselhoff handsomeness to him.

Stats retrieved from hockey-reference.com

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