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They needed two points tonight, and it certainly didn’t come easy but hey, it came. To the bullets:

– Through two periods the Panthers were beating the Hawks in nearly every measurement — shots, scoring chances, CF%, high-danger chances, faceoff percentage, you name it — except, of course, for the one that counts. Despite looking like gerbils on meth, the Hawks managed to only give up one goal in the second, largely thanks to…c’mon, you know who it’ll be…Corey Crawford. Up until the third, one dominant shift by the top line had been enough to at least keep it tied, until Keith got caught up with ‘ole Wide Dick’s package, and Trocheck and McGinn were able to get by them and score. It was certainly frustrating, but given how the Hawks had been playing, it wasn’t exactly surprising.

– But then, the top line! In the first period, they had said dominant shift that gave the Hawks the lead (and probably contributed to the coasting for a while), but let’s look at that: Top Cat was working behind the net, and all three of them were digging pucks out of the boards and keeping continual pressure, until Saad was able to bury a quick shot from the top of the crease. It was exactly the type of shift they need to have consistently — and until mid-way through the third it looked like that one shift might have been the only one they had in them. Their possession numbers were better than decent all night, but no other finish. Fortunately they pulled their shit together when it was needed and Toews tied the game in the third.

– Jan Rutta got his head dented in during the second period and left the game. I’m not happy about this, and I will not celebrate someone’s injury, even if he has been kinda sucking lately. What’s more interesting is 1. Will this finally lead Q to #FreeKempny? Will he be forced to? One would think so, and 2. How will any resulting reshuffle affect the defense? Franson skated in practice today, so it’s possible that Q hates Kempny so much that he’ll put an injured and aging bag of crap in instead of him. Barring that, would Kempny pair with Forsling? Or would Murphy move up to be paired with Keith and Oesterle moves elsewhere? Stay tuned.

– Speaking of  Connor Murphy, he basically saved a goal with a smooth sweep of the puck out of the net before the refs saw him do it. It takes a village.

The Hawks needed to take all six points available in these last three games, and they pulled it out of their ass. This is their first three-game win streak this year, which is good news and yet sad that it took this long, right? Next up is Winnipeg, which stumbled a little recently but beat the crap out of Vancouver last night, so they may have their mojo back. I don’t know if I’d count on any momentum, but maybe some faith that they can polish a turd when necessary? Onward and upward.

Line of the Night: “This Blackhawks power play has been a buzzkill for the last couple games.” —Pat Foley, in the world’s greatest understatement

Beer de jour: Fistmas by Revolution, because holiday-themed beers are only acceptable in the month of December

 

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Corsica

OK, so it took until the third period for this one to get interesting. But it did, and the Hawks got the two points they very badly needed against this crap excuse for a team. To the bullets:

– Oesterle instead of Kempny, huh? What did this guy do, run over Quenneville’s dog? Oesterle wasn’t particularly bad so it’s not like this decision ruined the game. He ended up with an assist on the first goal and a 54.6 CF% so…cool? Honestly, who even knows if Kempny would be any good at this point; I’m sure his confidence is shot to shit. But he proved himself capable last season so I just don’t get it. And now that Oesterle got a point in this game, it’s probably a done deal and Kempny might as well go to the land of wind and ghosts.

– Speaking of questionable decisions, for some fucking reason Saad and DeBrincat were on their opposite sides. Why? It’s like Q is fucking up the new-look top line out of spite. Am I missing something? What is it that I don’t know that would explain that? All it led to was Top Cat fat-fingering a pass and missing on what was basically an open net in the first period. This line was pretty quiet all night…gee fucking whiz I wonder why.

– Nick Schmaltz got a well-deserved mark on the scorer’s sheet tonight. He’s been busting his ass doing all the cliché things that don’t get you a point, so I was happy to see him get a goal. It was a classic 2-on-1, a great pass from Garbage Dick, and he buried the shot. Nicely done. It also put the Hawks up by 2 goals and for the first time in the game I was confident they would actually win it.

– Everyone’s favorite d-pairing of Forsling and Rutta were caught looking like fools on Duclair’s goal. Foley’s response was “somehow he beat Rutta” and I nearly had beer come out my nose.

– But his next line was “somehow he beat Crawford,” and that actually was surprising. Crow looked solid as usual, and if he’s still recovering from a groin issue it’s not showing. Midway through the second he got caught up playing the puck behind the net, but other than that misstep—which really didn’t matter anyway—he looked as good as we’ve come to expect. There was a nice sequence of saves late in the second and a big save in the third just prior to the first Hawks goal. I don’t know how long he’ll be able to keep this up every night, but we needed it tonight.

– Local guy does OK! Tommy Wingels scored his second goal in as many games. Enjoy that sentence because you’ll probably never see it again—I know I don’t ever expect to write it again.

The Hawks did what had to be done and got the two points. I wouldn’t say they looked dominant, but it’s baby steps right now. Their third shitty opponent in a row is on Tuesday (the Panthers), so hopefully they keep this going. Onward and upward.

 

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Corsica

Tonight was a bit of a tutorial in what not to do in a hockey game. Malaise on special teams and defensive stupidity thwarted the Hawks tonight, making it fortunate they at least got one point. It wasn’t like Ben Bishop did anything to write home about (his SV% was a whopping .864), so we can’t say it was one of those miraculous goalie performances. To the bullets:

– Admittedly, I didn’t see much of the game against the Predators, so I’ll reference the two games prior: If in those games against the Panthers and Ducks the offense masked the ugliness of the Hawks’ defense, tonight said ugliness was fully exposed. Cody Franson was a hot mess on the power play. On their first man advantage early in the first period he had a shitty pass get picked off and Crawford had to bail him out. That turned out to be a veritable Power Play of Christmas Future because a couple power plays later, he did the exact same thing that led to Patrick Kane’s desperation hook, and the resulting penalty shot. The power play in general was a disaster, but that’s another rant. Franson single-handedly ruined two.

Second, there was the obligatory Seabrook fuck up, which this time led directly to Dallas’ third goal. He fumbled an attempt at pinching (at least, I think that’s what he was going for?) at the blue line, and Remi Elie (who??) waltzed right by him and caught Crawford off-guard.

And for good measure, Forsling shared some blame too. Yes, he had a key assist in the third, don’t get me wrong. But before those heroics were necessary, he splayed out in a stupid block attempt way back in the first, and Mattias Janmark was left open to score the first goal. So there’s a taste of our defense tonight…need I go on?

– On a related note, tonight wasn’t Crawford’s worst night but it also wasn’t his best. He was spectacular on a series of shots by Elie (again, who the fuck??) in the third, but he ended the game with a .886 SV%. He got frozen on the penalty shot and wasn’t the absolute monster we’ve come to both expect and rely on. It’s nights like these when the rest of the team needs to return the favor and bail him out. Goaltending is not the problem here, I think we can all agree on that.

– The second line played the role of top line tonight. There was yet another goal from ‘ole Wide Dick—in fact it was the only power play goal out of their seemingly endless chances when Kane made a beautiful pass to Anisimov who was positioned right at the top of the crease. Kane then had a redirect to tie it in the third (that aforementioned Forsling assist), and Schmaltz drew about 85 penalties. At least we have one line, eh?

– Alex DeBrincat is good. I just thought you should know that.

– The Hawks power play is not good. I just thought you should know that too. No, really, they were 1 for 7 tonight, including over two minutes of a man advantage thanks to John Hayden’s face getting mauled by Klingberg’s stick and they still couldn’t score. The Hawks had four power plays in the first fucking period, and yet their shots remained in the single digits until well into the second (and a few more power plays). With the exception of the Garbage Dick—Wide Dick play in the second, it was clown shoes all night.

–Something on the Stars is named Pitlick. So, ya know, whenever you think you’ve got it rough, imagine going through life with that name. It’s helping to cheer me up right now.

–Beer de Jour: Fistmas by Revolution. Because I’m in the holiday spirit, damnit.

The Stars are an eminently beatable team, and we’ll get another chance on Saturday. I don’t know if tonight’s fuckery will lead Q to #FreeKempny, but if this doesn’t do it, I don’t know what would. Or rather, I don’t want to know. Onward and upward.