Hockey

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

These kinds of wins from the Hawks are always simultaneously thrilling and frustrating. Obviously, skullfucking any opponent that is so much better than the Hawks on paper like the Leafs appear to be feels incredible, but then you check some of the metrics on the game and they seem to tell something of a different story. On top of that, it makes you wonder where performances like these are the rest of the season. But I also don’t want to complain about awesome wins like this. Let’s do it:

THE BULLETS

– His surge of late has been so sudden and seemingly out of nowhere, that I am still consistently in shock about Dominik Kubalik coming on so strong recently. Before the season I felt like he would be a solid middle-six contributor, but recently he really seems to be hitting a stride and showing that he might be a bit more than that. His second goal tonight, batting the puck of thin air and into the net, was some incredible shit and personally I would like to see if he can play right field on the South Side with contact skills like that. Hopefully this isn’t just a scoring surge that will peter out and really is the result of a strong coming-out campaign.

– On top of that, Jonathan Toews is continuing his Fuck You Tour from last year, adding another four points tonight that give him 43 total in 49 games this year. His first goal was literally just him telling the entire Leafs roster to eat his dust, going full on Fuck It mode and undressing Freddy Andersen, and his second was him doing that *again* for good measure. Don’t let any dumb motherfuckers tell you that he is not good at hockey, and if people do tell you that, call them a dumb motherfucker.

Patrick Kane added himself a point to get within one of 1000 on his career, but overall he had something of a rough night. It felt to me like he was pressing really hard to get that 1000th point once he got 999, but through that pressing he was making a lot of bad plays in the offensive zone. I hope he gets that point ASAP – preferably though a goal – so we don’t have to deal with that kinda stuff much more going forward.

William Nylander was far and away the best player for the Leafs tonight while Alex was basically unnoticeable, which is further reminder that the Blackhawks trading Henri Jokiharju for the wrong Nylander.

– Andersen had such a bad night, and the Leafs have had such a strange up-and-down goaltending season, that Geek Boy Dubas should not let Robin Lehner leave town if he knows what is good for his roster. Just give the Hawks your first round pick and move on with the season.

– Hawks go again tomorrow, hosting the Jets. Until then.

Everything Else

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RECORDS: Maple Leafs 1-1-0    Hawks 2-0-0

PUCK DROP: 6:00 PM CT

TV: CSN Chicago

HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THEM?: Pension Plan Puppets

If you were going through a tournament of the most insufferable franchises in sports, it probably wouldn’t take too long to end up with this matchup in the “Hockey Region.” If you spend more than five minutes scrolling through Hockey Twitter (and you shouldn’t, it’s bad for your health), you’re going to see these two teams come up most frequently – the Leafs because there are too fucking many of their shithead fans on the internet who do not shut up ever, and the Hawks because everyone hates them because they were really good for a really long time. Die the hero, become the villain, etc. etc.

The most exhausting and insufferable shit that has already been tossed around in the past, and you will probably hear at least once tonight, (and more if you for some reason watch the Canadian broadcast, which is a national one because of course it is) is that this could be some kind of torch passing from the Hawks to the Leafs because the Leafs have a young core with their key guys still having their labor exploited on their entry level contracts and that’s how the Hawks built their empire and the Leafs are using the same blueprint and blah blah blah I am going to fuckin’ puke.

The annoying part about that shitty narrative is that the parallels keep lining up, most recently with the Leafs making their big splashy free agent signing in John Tavares, which you could equate to the Hawks bringing in Marian Hossa prior to 2009-10, though it’s not even up for debate that JT91 is a better and more impactful signing. There was once an inkling of hope around these parts that StanBo and company would get in on the Tavares train, but we never get what we want because we’re all good people at this website.

The Leafs are even in the process of the RFA fuck up parallel as well. We all remember well the Kris Versteeg situation that ended up giving this site it’s new namesake, and while Toronto hasn’t stuck their dick in a fax machine quite yet (but don’t put it past Kyle Dubas) they still haven’t stopped measuring it in negotiations with William Nylander, who wants to be paid like the good-as-shit player that he is instead of signing some bullshit “bridge contract” and risk getting hurt and losing out on the money. Nylander kinda has the Leafs over a barrel because he is such a huge part of what they’re trying to do there, but the Leafs have him over an even bigger barrel and in a much more vulnerable position because of the NHL’s labor exploitation contract and free agency rules. If I was Stan Bowman I would be annoying the shit out of Dubas until he gave in and traded Nylander to Madison St., but it’s not like the Hawks really even have anything to send the other way that would be worth more than a hearty chuckle when proposed in negotiations.

The most annoying thing about the Maple Leafs at the present time, though, is that they are actually, it pains me to say, going to be really good. Yes they got their shit pumped by Ottawa last night and I’m sure their fans have tried drowning themselves in some maple syrup as a result, but on paper the Leafs forward group (when they get Nylander back) is probably the best in the NHL. They have two of the top-10 centers in the damn league, and even though Nazem Kadri is a giant fuckstick, when he’s your 3C you’re in a really good spot. They have some holes on defense, but we saw Pittsburgh go back-t0-back with leftover popsicle sticks on their second pairing a few years ago. And the good players that the Leafs have are fun to watch. Auston Matthews is almost appointment television, Mitch Marner is a nasty playmaker, and we already know what Tavares is capable of.

So, yeah, the torch passing bullshit is annoying as fuck, and I don’t wanna hear it or think about it or deal with it. But the Leafs  might really have something here, and while that’s bad news for anyone’s Twitter timeline, it could be entertaining as hell, even if they shitpump the Hawks tonight.

Game #3 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Build

Everything Else

Leave it to Toronto. The Maple Leafs have been the hairy asshole of the NHL for the better part of a century now, yet they continue to claim themselves as some kind of important, historic NHL organization. The media that covers the team has ruined hockey coverage. Their fans ruined hockey Twitter. And now, after years of exploiting the ever-living shit of the LTIR cap exception, the team may have just managed to screw things up for the whole league in that regard.

The Leafs are hardly the only team to have circumvented the salary cap with the LTIR exception, but they’re without a doubt the worst offender. Because Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment essentially prints Loonies (which is probably a down market at this point in and of itself), they’ve been unafraid to write checks to players that they have no intent on playing. Hell, they traded for Nathan Horton for the sole purpose of getting LTIR relief, and more recently have been keeping an apparently entirely healthy Joffrey Lupul off the ice for the cap relief and to make room for the New Kids From The Block cover band that makes up their forward group.