Bathing in the rainwater of victory.
Even under normal circumstances, this stretch of the year can feel arduous and get to be a slog, and that’s without the now constant looming specter of random roster configurations and potential postponements at every turn. Furthermore, the style of hockey the Hawks are now trying to win with is anything but scintillating, but at least it netted results on this 3 game, 3 time zone trip, with the Hawks taking 2 of 3, and two in regulation, though not necessarily the games one would have guessed going into it.
If nothing else, Derek King and Marc Crawfrod’s Hawks are keeping themselves in games far more than at any point in the Alpo Colliton era, and are doing it via repeatable means – otherwise known as structure. The Hawks are keeping teams to the outside as much as possible, and shock of shocks, forcing them to complete at least two or three passes to get a clean look at Marc-Andre Fleury, who has completely turned his game around since the coaching change as well. For all that is made of Flower’s acrobatics, and deservedly so as this outlet is on record as stating he’s the most athletically gifted individual to ever be tetched in the head enough to put that equipment on, he is also dogmatic to his butterfly angles as well. Put that together and you have a first overall pick who plays a nearly 20 year career with 3 Cups, Five Finals appearances, a Vezina, and is now one of three goalies to ever backstop 500 wins (however they’re counted).
It will be interesting going forward to see what his wishes are on where he wants to end this season. Given the above resume, it doesn’t seem like there’s much he needs to play for anymore, and he did have to be convinced to even come here and uprooted his family to do so. But there’s always going to be a team that wants goalie help, and he’ll likely be the top option should this caliber of play continue, and the Hawks might be able to turn him into some futures they desperately need.
12/7 – Rangers 6, Hawks 2
The Hawks hung around in this one probably longer than they should have given what the Rangers’ top line is capable of, but they certainly made it count on the power play. In the two games against the Blue shirts the Hawks never seemed to be able to figure out how to handle things running from the left half wall off the stick of the right handed Artemi Panarin, who had 7 points in two games against his former club. Sometimes he’ll just do that, but it shouldn’t have been as easy for him as it looked. The big story was Jacob Trouba sending Jujhar Khaira to the hospital with a viscous hit that was unpenalized. There’s no way to legislate intent in hits like these, and Trouba’s elbows were in and his feet were on the ground and Khaira’s head was down, the intent was still to blow him up good. But the fact of the matter is that his shoulder made contact with his face first, and then Khaira’s head bounced off the ice, worsening the outcome. Of course Trouba went on to blindside Nathan MacKinnon the following night in a similarly borderline hit that was unpunished, while MacKinnon was sent to the room by the spotter. There shouldn’t even be any room for interpretation for these types of hits – a check to the head should equal an automatic GTFO with some combination of misconduct/match penalty/major. The NHL is literally the only league in the world that does not have a rule like this, and it’s asinine.
12/9 – Hawks 2, Habs 0
The less said about the actual particulars of the game play of Thursday night, the better. For nearly all of the game it was simply a case of two drunks bumping into each other in the dark repeatedly. Jonathan Toews finally scored, so there’s that at least. But obviously the big story was Marc-Andre Fleury’s 500th win in shutout fashion in his home province, and the fans in Montreal took a break from being entitled as shit and bragging about how many cups they won back when there were 6 teams full of Canadian auto mechanics to recognize a modern player’s real achievement. A nice moment, sincerely.
12/11 – Leafs 5, Hawks 4
Even with Jonathan Toews scoring AGAIN in the first two minutes of this game, this one quickly returned to feeling like the foregone conclusion it was supposed to be with 4 unanswered goals in about 20 minutes worth of game time, two on the power play. The Hawks’ kill has been for the most part passable-to-solid this season with either regime, but they simply cannot afford to take penalties against teams with forwards like the Leafs and Rangers have, because there’s just simply too much skill there. The Leafs then kind of let their foot off the gas and allowed the Hawks to score effects their way back into things with a couple seeing eye shots and one spectacular individual effort from Sam’s guy Phil Kurashev to beat out two Leafs for an icing to whack the puck over to an alone in the slot Dominik Kubalik. Losing on a bad stanchion bounce to the very useful David Kampf is a bummer, but it happens.
Ed note: I for some reason had convinced myself that the game went to OT as I left the house on Saturday night and eventually saw that they lost. They did not go to OT. This has been corrected.
It’s a busy week coming up with some actual divisional games at the end of it, and another chance to watch Ovie. The games against Dallas and Nashville are certainly within reach.
There is literally nowhere for this team to go but up after the worst week in this franchise’s long history of bad weeks, both on and off the ice. The Hawks extended their own streak in futility to start the season, came away with one point out of a possible six, and looked like disinterested shit while doing so. It all pales in comparison to the shockwaves still echoing across the league today for their arguable criminal negligence 11 years ago, but either way the games on the schedule still have to be played. Not that this standard is going to be adhered to, at this time in 2018 when the now disgraced Joel Quenneville was launched and the team was supposed to be competitive (as this one was to be), he was fired after 15 points in 15 games. With two points in 9 games so far, it is now not possible for Jeremy Trestman to even meet that meager threshold, but given the circumstances around the team, it remains unlikely he’ll be fired any time soon. Even at that point, the next choice on the bench to step in is Marc Crawford, who was the first head coach Quenneville served under, and was suspended himself for physical abuse of players. Around every every corner there seems to be a new and fresh pile of shit to step in, but perhaps most impressive is that in just a month, the Hawks have seemingly managed to absolutely crush the spirit of one of the league’s smiling faces for a generation in Marc-Andre Fleury, while basically playing themselves into a wasted season in the blink of an eye. If the Hawks new GM Kyle something or other has any humanity, he’ll get Flower the fuck out of here at the earliest possible convenience.
11/1 – vs Ottawa
Game Time – 7:00PM CDT
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, SportsNet1, WGN-720
Lance And Blake (One Son) – Silver Seven Sens
Perhaps the Hawks’ best chance to grab a victory comes tonight against the visiting Senators, though that’s not to say that it’s going to be in any way easy, as absolutely nothing about this team can be taken as a given at this point. The Sens are coming off a victory in Dallas, having last played on Friday, so they got to spend their Halloween here in the city. That marked the Senators first road win and second against the Stars so far this season, and to this point they’ve been fairly competitive. They’re obviously an incredibly young team that’s still figuring things out with all of the hallmarks – good power play, bad on the road, and needing excellent goaltending to prop it all up, which they’ve gotten from Matt Murray and Filip Gustavsson, but former Hawk legend Anton Forsberg has been another story. So far the younger of the Garbage Tkachuk Sons has yet to hit his stride after missing camp and the first three games of the year with his contract dispute, but he’ll likely round into form soon. Likewise Tim Stutzle has been slow out of the gates after showing plenty of flash in last year’s abbreviated campaign. The Senators have gotten contrtibutions elsewhere up front for the time being in Drake Batherson and Josh Norris, but they’ll need their marquee guys to step it up, along with getting the play driven from the back end by Thomas Chabot in order to hang around for longer than just a month before their inevitable descent into the oblivion that is Kanata.
11/3 – vs Carolina
Game Time – 7:30PM CDT
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago+, TVA-S, WGN-AM 720
Larry Johnson’s Grandmama – Canes Country
The Hurricanes are now 8-0-0, with all eight wins coming in regulation. They will also have had two full days off coming into Wednesday night’s game, having played most recently on Sunday afternoon. This probably goes just about as well at Club 1901 as it did in Raleigh.
11/5 – at Winnipeg
So Kevin Chevyldayoff gets to keep his job despite the fact he was in the meeting where all of Hawks upper management effectively conspired to keep Kyle Beach’s claims swept under the rug because he was the only person who placed himself there, but still didn’t manage to do anything about it? This is why hockey culture is perversely fucked and needs to be burnt to the ground for any real improvements to be made. Anyway, on the ice, the Jets are the same mess they’ve been for what feels like 12 years now. The forward group is extremely solid top to bottom even if Blake Wheeler is somehow like 58 years old now, the blue line is a complete gas can in its own end, and Connor Hellebuyck needs to be in top form for them to have a chance. To this point he hasn’t been, with an .899 overall, but that’s been absolutely obliterated by the Jets’ horse shit PK, which is only operating at 63% right now, good for 31st in the league. Of the 24 goals Hellebuyck has allowed, a staggering ELEVEN have come on the power play, and his even strength save percentage is a fully respectable and sustainable (for him) .935. Good thing for them that Paul Maurice teams are known for staying out of the box.
11/7 – vs Nashville
Game Time – 6:00PM CST
TV/Radio –NBC Sports Chicago, SportsNet1, WGN-AM 720
It’s Just Fucking Everywhere Isn’t It? – On The Forecheck
Every year it seems like it might finally be the one where Nashville finally has the bottom fall out of it, and every year they seem to still make the playoffs by the hair on their ass. Of course, they won’t get to play a full 12% of their games against this stupid ass Hawks team like they did last year and took 15 of 16 possible points. Nearly 25% of their points came from games against the Hawks last year, and it’s not exactly like John Hynes has a throbbing brain in that big bald head of his. It literally just takes a single counter-measure to make Vinny Del Colliton look like a completely clueless asshole. Roman Josi is once again leading this team in scoring with 9 points in 8 games from the back end because that’s how this whole thing has to work with Filip Forsberg the only real threat offensively because Ryan Johansen is too busy chugging root beers. Juuse Saros has been solid at evens with a .931, but only has a .917 overall thanks to early season PK issues in Nashville as well, though clearly not to the extent of the Jets. He’ll have to be excellent for them to even stay on the fringes of the wild card situation even with as shitty as the Pacific is, if only because there’s simply almost no firepower up front.
It seems impossible to have to turn to on-ice concerns after what came to light yesterday, but that’s seemingly the case. For those looking for more reaction to what the hell is even going on anymore with all of this, Sam obviously has it covered, and this might be the rare instance where listening to the podcast might actually be beneficial. In any event, yesterday coupled with the fact that with literally every second that ticks off the clock as the game starts tonight, the Hawks will be extending an NHL record for futility to start the season, this could very well be the nadir of the franchise, and if it’s not, it’s certainly a low point of the past 40 years.
The fallout from yesterday’s revelations is far from over and is wide spanning, as there are bound to be consequences in Winnipeg, Sunrise, and potentially at the NHLPA. And on the ice the Hawks will be missing more players to covid protocols (including two lettered captains who were on this team when all of this happened) while they face far more skilled opponents. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
10/27 vs Toronto
Game Time – 6:30PM CDT
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, SportsNet 1, WGN-AM 720
God I’m So Tired – PPP
As if to drive home the point of just how endemic sexual assault is in the culture of hockey, a day after these horrors are brought to light, the Leafs come to town, whose own current coach and GM are each separately involved in sordid, disgusting, and horrifying tales of sexual assault from their past. On the ice, the Leafs are off to a 2-4-1 start, which of course is causing all of THE SIX to rend their garments and self-immolate given the expectations of what this team is supposed to do after the longest cup drought evere and another flameout, but the fact remains that this forward corps is still one of the most talented in the league even if it’s getting by the PDO gods right now, Mitch Marner in particular. This defense still likely isn’t deep enough and entrusting Cup aspirations to Jack Campbell is undoubtedly a fool’s errand, but for late October, there should be more than enough here to help right the ship for them tonight.
10/27 at Carolina
Game Time – 6:00PM CDT
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Mop & Slop – Canes Country
The Hurricanes have started the season 5-0-0 with all five wins coming in regulation, and are second in the league with a +14 goal differential, and once again are solidly in control of the shot attempts ledger with a 52.24% share 5v5, good for 10th in the league. They are getting balanced scoring up and down the lineup, with 5 players at a point-per or better in the early going, led by Andrei Svechnikov at 9 points and Sebastian Aho not far behind with 9. Freddy Andersen has played all 5 games and has a .946 overall save percentage, .950 at evens. And no one gives a shit. This has all happened before, for a couple years now, and it has only translated into a couple of playoff round wins. It seems fitting that Andersen landed here, as this publication has always branded him “Just Good Enough To Break Your Heart”, and that’s what this entire Canes team has been for the past handful of years. None of this matters unless it translates to silver in the spring, and at a certain point the team has to know that. Tony DeAngelo is a racist piece of shit.
10/30 at St. Louis
Game Time (not that one) – 7:00PM CDT
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Oh God Dammit – SLGT
The Blues are also currently 5-0-0 with all five wins coming in regulation and have a +14 goal differential, however they are not as territorially sound as the Canes, being underwater with a 49 share, good for 18th in the league so far. They’ve feasted a little bit on the dog food (GET IT) that is the Kings (twice) and the Coyotes, but they’ve looked sound in doing so, but also have wins against the Knights and Avs too, two teams that the Bene Gesserit prophecy has foretold of meeting in the West finals for a couple years running now. Old friend Brandon Saad is currently in covid protocol, but if indeed literally everyone in the league other than Tyler Bertuzzi is vaccinated, he’ll likely be available for this game. David Perron has six goals to lead the Blues so far, which undoubtedly pleases Allan Walsh, and thusly pleases everyone, because Allan Walsh is a very normal person that everyone likes and roots for, and who has never ever done anything remotely weird.
The Blackhawks are kicking off their preseason schedule tonight at the United Center. I don’t even know against who.
As should have become increasingly clear over the course of this summer given the disgusting details of the latest sexual assault scandal surrounding this team, as well as its ham fisted attempts to completely deflect any and all responsibility, interest in the Men of Four Feathers is at an all time low here at FFUDHQ, or at least it is for me personally. The attempts to rebuild this roster on the fly in the hopes that Coach Jeremy Prinze Jr. can finally get his head out of his taut, perky ass have done nothing to command attention either. There have been no roster previews, no think piece writeups, no top-level league wide analysis. I elected to not purchase my share of season tickets this year with the group I’ve been a part of for 13 years, and I know Sam gave his up entirely. These were not easy decisions to come to.
As such, and also given personnel limitations now that our onetime fearless leader is actually being compensated fairly for his work elsewhere, coverage here of the upcoming season is not going to be as it has been for the past decade. In a completely unexpected turn of events, the NHL actually did something smart last year by having its two and three game series during the abbreviated schedule, which allowed us all here to divvy up the workload in a far more digestable fashion. In going back to 82 games now, that becomes a little more daunting from not only the hours needed to write and watch, but also in the sense that watching this team for moral reasons still feels gross, and the fact that they’re still going to trot this completely counterintuitve and disorganized to the point of being offensive brand of hockey and it feels like a millstone.
None of this is meant to elicit any kind of sympathy whatsoever, even given my well documented martyrdom complex. It’s merely a statement of fact in order to properly set expectations on how this team is going to be covered. What we’re going to attempt to start out with is a twice a week digest form, likely published on off days however they fall, with a quick look back at the couple games that transpired, and a quick look forward at what’s ahead. We’ll also try to toss out the classics like the Sugar Pile and Angry At Numbers every so often when the inspiration hits.
So that’s about the temperature around here, just wanted to let everyone know what we’re shifting towards.
Well clearly there was a lot to go over and a lot to look towards with the Hawks’ season now (mercifully) over. This is runs longer than an Apatow movie, and will age even worse, but grab all the audio after the jump.
There is no use ignoring what is clearly the biggest sports story in at least a decade, and that is the spectre of the COVID-19 pandemic. And while the NBA had already been a bit more active in getting out ahead of things even with both the visiting Sharks and the Blue Jackets declaring their intent to play in front of empty buildings, the NHL still is insisting to this very moment that games will not be postponed or cancelled even as news of the NBA bringing things to a halt due to the infection in the Jazz locker room broke during the game. It feels like this might be the last game for the forseeable future, as shit is becoming real at a break neck pace. Both teams played like they were distracted for periods, and while the Hawks may have sold every ticket, it was sparse crowd that was even visible from TV. If nothing else, the Hawks braintrust will use the outbreak as a crutch to finally announce the sellout streak is over, and then brag that it took an act of god (or Satan) to halt them. With the win tonight the Hawks still remain mathematically alive, but then again, aren’t we all at this point?
With the holiday break behind us, and all four of us in tow, we take a look at what can be done about this weird, middling, frustrating team. Links after the jump, no subscription required.
While this installment had minimal technical difficulties, that’s more than can be said for the Hawks last night. And now that that’s behind everyone, Sam, Slak, and I look ahead to the annual (and possibly last) Black Wednesday tilt in San Jose against the Sharks with old friend Derek, formerly of Fear the Fin. Links after the jump.