Five more years.

2018–19 Stats

78 GP – 5 G, 23 A, 28 P

46.77 CF% (-3.5 CF% Rel), 49.8 oZS%

46.46 GF% (-5.92 Rel GF%), 45.32 xGF% (0.45 Rel xGF%)

Avg. TOI 19:06

A Brief History: There are so many ways to measure what a negative effect Seabrook had when he was on the ice last year. Let’s start at the most obvious, which is his defense.

All Charts by Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath)

On the left is WITH Seabrook. On the right is WITHOUT. Both are bad. But it’s somehow and exceedingly worse when he’s out there. The analysis here is simple: Seabrook gets mauled when he’s forced to play in his own end.

The only Blackhawk D-man whose threat percentage while on the ice was higher than Seabrook’s (higher is worse on defense) was Gustav Forsling, and he won’t ever see the ice inside PNC Arena, barring a glut of Hurricanes injuries. Defensively, Seabrook is slightly better than Gustav Forsling. Ringing endorsement.

Worse than being bad by yourself is making your teammates worse. Seabrook excels at this aspect of the game.

This chart shows score-adjusted shots per 60 minutes, both against (inverted y-axis) and for (x-axis). That red diagonal line is the 50% point for shots for and shots against (i.e., the breakeven point). The blob of blue in the middle is Seabrook on his own, which leans toward bad. The black squares are a given player WITH Seabrook. The red squares are the given player WITHOUT Seabrook.

Aside from reiterating how bad this team is at defense as a whole, this shows that when Seabrook is on the ice, opponents take more shots than give up. When you take Seabrook off the ice, literally every single Blackhawk ends up facing fewer shots.

In short, Seabrook is a black hole for defensive performance, and there’s nowhere to hide him. He sucks so much that he has his own fucking event horizon. That’s fucking something.

You bet your sweet crimson ass there is. Perhaps the worst part of Seabrook’s game is his penalty killing.

Jesus Christ, just look at how bad the PK is when Seabrook is on the ice (left). He played just 21 seconds fewer than the Hawks’s leading PK time getter, Duncan Keith, on by far the worst PK in the league. This is an utter dereliction of duty on Colliton’s part. There might not be a worse regular-time-getting penalty killer in the league than Brent Seabrook, and yet there he is, almost leading the team in playing time out there.

Maybe you’re sitting there buying the myth that he’s still useful on offense. But guess what?

That’s not really true. In terms of shots at 5v5, Seabrook is entirely replaceable. The offensive threat (higher is better on offense) is the same whether he’s on the ice or not. Combine this with his GF%, and it’s even worse. Of Hawks who played at least 41 games, only Gustav Forsling (there’s that name again) had a worse GF% among Hawks D-men.

“Well, he’s still got a booming shot and can be useful on the power play,” you might say.

Pretty much any power play with Seabrook on it dies on this “still useful, booming” shot of his. This shot directly produced AT BEST 10 power play goals if you want to include the possibility of tips (two goals, three first assists, five second assists). That’s not nearly useful enough to make up for everything else he makes bad.

The only positive thing that happened with him last year is that he played under 20 minutes per game on average. That’s a start, but he really should be playing about 20 games per year.

It Was the Best of Times: Boqvist breaks camp and takes Seabrook’s spot. Seabrook plays 20 games all year as a 7th D-man, along with Dahlstrom.

It Was the BLURST of Times: Seabrook plays more than 20 games.

Prediction: Seabrook’s gonna get second-pairing minutes and look terrible doing it. Everyone’s gonna keep going back to the undefinable “leadership” he brings, saying, “You just can’t understand it unless you’re in the locker room.” Everyone will make excuse after excuse for his performance. It will be agony because none of this is really Seabrook’s fault.

This is just what he is now: a bad all-around hockey player. As much as I want to hem and haw about how a real leader would take himself off the ice, that’s not fair. It’s stupid, in fact. Instead, that’s a decision his coach—a man who likely has the same sort of respectability in Seabrook’s eyes as a soiled diaper—needs the stones to make. But Colliton probably doesn’t have the stones to do what anyone with even a cursory understanding of hockey would do: scratch Seabrook more often than not.

The only thing that Colliton, Bowman, and every other decision maker should be afraid of regarding Seabrook is how much damage he does to the Hawks as a direct result of playing ice hockey. It doesn’t matter how you slice it. Brent Seabrook is not a good hockey player anymore. He’s a sunk cost. You get nothing for continuing to ice him, except a below-replacement-level performance.

They’ll retire his number one day because he deserves it. We’ll revere him as a cornerstone of the Hawks revival, because he is, was, and always will be. The first time he comes back after his retirement, he will get the raucous standing ovation he’s owed. That’s what makes watching him be quite possibly the worst regularly playing defenseman in the NHL today as agonizing as it is.

We’re just as tired of this as you are. And it really doesn’t have to be this way.

Five more years.

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Previous Previews

Robin Lehner

Corey Crawford

Adam Boqvist

Carl Dahlstrom

Calvin de Haan

Erik Gustafsson

Duncan Keith

Slater Koekkoek

Olli Maatta

Connor Murphy

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.


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

The playoffs may be a distant memory, but that’s no reason not to peer into the smoldering remains of the dumpster fire that is this lineup. We’ve only got one more week after this! Shall we?

The Dizzying Highs

Alex DeBrincat. After a brief slump and enduring inexplicable line nonsense from Beto O’Colliton (those two issues are seemingly not unrelated), Top Cat bounced back with a strong week. His goal Saturday against the Kings was one of those where it looked too easy, and in the win over the Sharks he scored twice, including on a 5-on-3. He and Dylan Strome have maintained their chemistry, when their coach deigns to play them together, but even on the third line against the Kings he managed a goal and a 52 CF%. He’s now tied with Patrick Kane for leading the team in goals. We’ve basically come to expect this performance of him at this point, but as Pullega said the other night, one of the few bright spots is that DeBrincat is someone to build around going forward, and this week was a reminder.

The Terrifying Lows

Brendan Perlini. I guess it’s a little unfair to throw him into the Terrifying Lows, and maybe it’s unfair of Colliton to demote him so quickly and angrily, but there’s no denying that Perlini’s recent hot streak may have been just that—a streak. He basically exploded in early March in shots, scoring chances, and of course goals, but starting last weekend he reverted much closer to his baseline (1, 2, 4, 0 SOG since the Colorado home-and-home). His possession numbers have tanked as well, and following a dumbass turnover and overall shitty performance against the Sharks, he got benched late in that game and then basically sent to the corner with a dunce cap to think about what he did, both for the Kings game and against the Jets. Is Perlini really the biggest issue on this team? Not even close. But a bad week is a bad week.

The Seabrook-Forsling Pairing. If there is one silver lining to the impending end of the season, it is that we will not have to watch these two clowns skate together for at least a few months. Hopefully we’ll never have to see it again, but I remain pessimistic. Brent Seabrook was underwater in possession for basically an entire week. He’s taken five penalties in the last four games, including one that led to the Coyotes’ only (and game-winning) goal. Forsling hasn’t been any better—sure, he hasn’t taken as many ridiculously bad penalties in these last few but he’s been a turnover machine and is still generally offensive to the eyes when watching him. Any blabbering about Jokiharju or any of the other baby defensemen not being ready rings pretty damn hollow watching these two.

The Creamy Middles

Brandon Saad. Saad hasn’t scored in a while but he did log two assists against the Sharks, and maybe more importantly he’s just been playing reliably well. His possession numbers have been outstanding and he even came close to setting up Dylan Sikura for what is now the most impossible goal in hockey, Sikura’s first. He’s been a force for good in these dark times, whether on the top line or not.

Corey Crawford. Maybe he hasn’t been completely lights out lately, but when you’re getting hosed by your teammates and still manage to keep them in the game, that says something. For example, none of the goals against the Kings could really be pinned on Crawford. Wagner and Amadio both ran past defensemen who were 1) slow and 2) totally out of position, while the winning goal was an OT power play goal thanks to a terrifically stupid penalty by Jonathan Toews. Toews then continued the stupidity against the Jets with a trip on Mark Scheifele who got a penalty shot as a result. And Crawford stopped it. He hasn’t been perfect, but he’s been better than the numbers may say. And he deserves much better than what he’s getting to work with.


Everything Else

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Money Puck

The ghost of the Blackhawks playoff run came out to haunt tonight, but sort of like Casper: kind of fun, kind of annoying. Against a cold Sharks team that looked sloppy and disinterested throughout, the Hawks managed to squeeze out whatever ounce of hope is left in this toothpaste-for-dessert season, despite their own sloppiness in the ass end of the ice. Let’s clean it up and grasp for meaning.

– The most notable thing about this game has to be Alex DeBrincat scoring his 40th goal. His 39th was a relief to watch, as DeBrincat got in close on the 5-on-3 to stuff home two shots off a Toews rebound–pass. With Kane doing some nifty stickhandling at the far dot, Toews managed to get position in front of the net for a redirect. Martin Jone5 managed to stuff it, but Toews recovered and shoveled a pass to DeBrincat, who buried his second try. For a guy who was just missing on shots or just flubbing passes over the last three or four, you could feel the pressure come off.

Cat’s second goal of the night, his 40th, was more stereotypical of our favorite 5’7” behemoth. After Kahun showed off some good puck retrieval near the corner boards and shoved a nice pass to Strome behind the net, DeBrincat broke wide open through the slot. Strome set him up from behind the goal line for an easy one-timer. If nothing else comes from this year, we can take solace in knowing that Alex DeBrincat is without a doubt something to build around.

Brandon Saad brought possession dominance tonight. In the first, he flashed the skill and power that had us teasing him as the second coming of Marian Hossa. He pickpocketed Brent Burns early in the first to set up a dangerous backhander for himself that he airmailed. He delivered a perfect setup pass on Connor Murphy’s goal, following an impressive cross-ice pass from Anisimov. He redirected Gustafsson’s point shot enough to create a rebound that Toews stuffed home. He had a breakaway shot attempt stopped by a good backcheck from unrepentant douchebag Evander Kane. He posted a 100 CF% (as did Dylan Sikura).

In the second, while driving the slot, he slid a pass to Toews for a good wrister that Jones blocked, and which then nearly turned into a stuff-shot goal for Sikura.

In the third, he set up the Toews–Sikura 2-on-1 that had everyone’s shitter puckered in anticipation for Sikura’s first goal. Sikura probably waited a second too long to shoot it, but everything about it otherwise was a result of Saad’s strong breakout pass.

On the game, Saad led all Hawks with a 58+ CF% (29.08 CF% Rel) and two assists. And that’s about as perfect a representation of what Brandon Saad is. He’s an outstanding rhythm guitarist who shows flashes of superstardom. He’s a quieter contributor than most of us want him to be (I screamed about him scoring 90 points this year because I’m a fool for what I want him to be), but there’s little doubt that he’s an important contributor.

Over the last 12 games, he’s had a negative CF% Rel just once (03/09 against Dallas). On a team whose defense is a filled condom that slips out of your hands before you can tie it off and throw it in the fucking trash where it belongs, dominant possession numbers ought to be treated as a premium. We’ll always wish he were more of a 65–70-point guy than the 55 tops he is, but with everything else he does well, you can live with it, especially with the firepower the Hawks still tease when the lines are constructed well.

Jeremy Colliton obviously listens to Live From the Five Hole. After we spent 40 minutes bitching and moaning about how the lines, especially the nuclear option, just had to go for that retro 50s charm, it was no more tonight, and the Hawks manic’d themselves into a lead not even their putrid defense could blow.

– Although he gave up four goals, you have to consider this a good outing for Crawford. The Radil goal is one he’d like to have back, but each of the rest was the result of bad defensive positioning. Seabrook floating between Hertl and Nyquist with Crawford protecting against Hertl, giving Hertl an open passing lane. Duncan Keith watching Joe Thornton dribble like Prince against Charlie Murphy. Slater Koekkoek existing. Despite one near headsmack on the cross bar and taking a hard wrister in the mush, Crawford still managed to stuff 19–21 at even strength.

– Playing Brent Seabrook at this point is active sabotage. He was simply terrible all night, taking three penalties and posting a pathetic 26+ CF%. The same goes for Gustav Forsling, who was nearly as bad both statistically and by the eye test. The only redeeming thing about these two is that Seabrook has three rings, and those are nice memories. Slap Mr. Leader in a suit, buy him out, and let him coach. Henri Jokiharju should be here right now if this is a pairing that’s trotted out there in the midst of a “playoff run.”

– There’s not much to expect out of Slater “Couldn’t Beat Out Dan Girardi” Koekkoek. But what he did on Meier’s game-tying goal was beyond the pale. With Murphy properly covering on the near boards, Koekkoek was responsible for Meier, who was creeping through the neutral zone. Instead, he rushed toward the near boards inexplicably. This left Meier wide open for a Couture cross-ice pass and an easy goal. It was one of the worst defensive executions I’ve seen all year. On a team that at some time employed Brandon Manning, Jan Rutta, Gustav Forsling, and Brent Seabrook. That’s something.

– Connor Murphy had a nice game. The fancy stats are piss, but he had six blocks and a goal. He took a lousy closing-the-hand penalty too, but other than that, he didn’t lose his ass like so many other Hawks D-men tonight. If for nothing else, I’d love to see the Hawks get a legit blue liner or two just to see whether Murphy is actually as good as I hope he is or whether he’s more of an oasis in this defensive desert.

– Perlini found his ass stapled to the bench after he kicked the puck to center ice while on the wall, causing a horrid and unexplainable turnover. He had his ass punched in possession throughout the game, so it probably wasn’t a bad call by Colliton. Though I’d rather see him flex nuts on Seabrook or Forsling or Koekkoek first, he’s got more depth in his forward lines to do something like that. So fine.

The Sharks had lost six straight coming into this, but it’s still fun to watch the Hawks take advantage of a good team off its game. It’s disappointing that it took Colliton until after the Hawks’s playoff chances realistically ended to construct the lines in ways that have proven to work very well. But if the Hawks came back next year with minor changes to the forward lines (i.e., no Kunitz), a revamped blue line minus Seabrook and Forsling, and a healthy Crawford, they can be a playoff team next year.

If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, I’d have something to stop the spins.

Booze du Jour: Miller High Life

Line of the Night: “Where were we last time?” –Steve Konroyd, mirroring everyone else’s thoughts on the Arizona game in the pregame.

Everything Else

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Money Puck

That’ll about do it for any playoff hopes the Hawks had. In another BIG GAME, the Hawks let out the biggest and densest of farts, failing to scratch against a team straight ahead of them in the standings and more than happy to play a wet blanket trap. Now too bad for the playoffs and too good for a top draft pick (probably), the Hawks get to end the year against a running buzz saw of teams entrenched in the playoffs and the Kings. What a fucking treat.

– Let’s start positive. Corey Crawford looked outstanding yet again. At the beginning of the broadcast, Foley mentioned that Crow was pitching a .940 SV% through the last nine games. In his last five, including tonight, Crow tossed a .924 SV% and managed to get saddled with a 1–3–1 record. He had another stellar game ruined by a bad penalty and his team’s complete Beavis when it mattered most.

Still, it’s always going to be comforting to watch Crawford dominate like he did tonight, especially when his team is giving up 12 high-danger chances for throughout the game, including seven in the third. Crow looks like the Crow of old, and that’s at least a small respite from this skidmark of a season.

– Another thing Foley and Konroyd spent far too much time doing early in the broadcast was pushing the “Keith has really grown” narrative. Konroyd’s Keith fluffing was especially egregious early in the first, during which he waxed poetic about how Keith had really evolved under Colliton’s man zone system as shown by his +20 plus-minus rating or some such shit. Anyone with standard definition television can see that Keith has gone kicking and screaming like Ned Flanders into this fucking asylum of a system, and no meaningless plus-minus or OT goal in a game they needed in regulation is going to change that. Having Keith take the lazy tripping penalty on Crouse late in the third was just the icing on the cake.

I won’t ever hate Duncan Keith, but some of the pissbaby penalties and plays are starting to wear thin.

– It’s good that the next six games don’t matter, because Patrick Kane is completely out of gas. Tonight saw him displaying flat passing and skating and more stripped turnovers than I can remember in a while. And yet, Colliton kept double shifting him, because that’s apparently his counter-clockwise fucking swirl. Except when Kane can’t keep up with the plays he can normally make, the swirl looks more like a knuckle.

– It’s a bit concerning that in the last five games—five games that in theory mattered—the Hawks managed to score just seven goals, and that was with the “nuclear option” flying out there regularly. That’s something that’s on Colliton. He boxed his team in by tossing out one line with all the scoring threats and no one to retrieve the puck, and then Nathan For You’d the rest of the lineup.

It wasn’t until the third of this game that he tried throwing Sikura up with DeBrincat and Toews, leaving a tired Kane to try to manufacture everything else by himself. It’s frustrating when you’ve got teams directly above you in the standings simply trapping and stuffing the middle because they know the top line won’t be able to retrieve the puck off a perimeter shot. It’s especially frustrating when your third line dominates in the oZ but doesn’t have a true scorer to finish the job. Colliton either couldn’t or wouldn’t make the adjustment. I’m not sure which would be worse.

David Kampf is a fine player. Maybe even good. But if you needed to be reminded about why he’s not ever going to be a Top 6 guy, tonight was the night. His line was the only forward line underwater in possession, and they were way, way under. He doesn’t complement Perlini or Strome well at all, and that Colliton thought that the way to fix that line was to put a defensive stalwart with very little offensive upside in the middle of it doesn’t inspire confidence.

– Forsling–Seabrook continues to insult. Along with the Kampf line, they were buried in possession (26+ and 30+ CF%, respectively). Seabrook’s desperation tripping penalty led to the Coyotes’s only goal, and Forsling had no fewer than four unforced turnovers, at least three of which came in the defensive zone on long pass attempts. It’s a never-ending nightmare whenever these two are on the ice. Given how bad they are, everyone should be fired if Boqvist and Harju aren’t up and playing with this team next year. There’s simply no way those two can be any worse than Forsling–Seabrook.

– On the Yotes’s goal, Connor Murphy went out too far to cover Keller, who easily slipped a pass by him and to the waiting stick of humongous puddle of wet dogshit Nick Cousins. If Murphy sags a bit, it closes that lane off and makes that pass more difficult at least. It didn’t help that Kruger couldn’t clear the ice immediately prior, but Murphy’s positioning was the main culprit.

Brendan Perlini’s got a hell of a release. If he can ever get it under control, he could be fun. I do not like how many ifs I have to attach to him at all.

Alex DeBrincat has had a rough go of it over the past few games. Now that the Hawks are dead, Colliton would be wise to slot him with Perlini and Strome again and try to get that line back on track.

Unless you think the Hawks can beat the Sharks, Kings, Jets, Blues, Stars, and Preds all in a row and in regulation, then tonight’s loss was the final nail in the coffin. The best they can do now is try to get the Perlini–Strome–DeBrincat line back on track, get Sikura his first goal, and maybe give Garbage Dick some time off.

We’re at the funeral, so we’ll sing the requiem.

Booze du Jour: Two Hearted

Line of the Night: “FUCK” –Corey Crawford

Everything Else

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Money Puck

For a must-win game with the season on the line, the Hawks managed an “Is it in yet?” effort. Despite dominating possession (62%+) and the shot share (42 vs. 20), they only managed six high-danger chances for against the Avs’s five. With another empty-calorie win, they’ll keep the embers of this “playoff run” just hot enough to justify watching on Tuesday, but if you were looking for a definitive reason to believe that this team can squeak into the playoffs, tonight wasn’t it.  Let’s rake this muck.

– Colliton’s BIG IDEA over the past two games has been to test his nuclear option of Cat–Cap’n–Kane. It’s done everything it was supposed to do except score goals. They were ruthless in possession, pushing the pace at a 65% pace throughout the entire game. Granted, it was against a team that was happy to collapse on the only line that has even a whiff of a real scoring threat, knowing that if they could shut down that line, they’d probably get the one point they needed to manufacture a more comfortable lead over the last wild card spot.

While this idea isn’t bad on its own, it’s obviously not worked over the past three or four games. When you’re loading up the top line with your only real shot creators, all your opponents have to do is shut that one line down. And it’s a lot easier to shut that line down when there’s no real puck retriever on the line. That’s what made Caggiula look as good as he did with Kane and Toews: He was willing and able to retrieve shots and rebounds that DeBrincat can’t and Kane won’t. Toews just isn’t that guy anymore, especially not this year, a year in which we’ve watched him rightfully shirk some of his defensive responsibilities to try to outscore the Hawks’s overall defensive woes.

It’s a tough spot that Colliton finds himself in, trying to turn canned clams into caviar. But it’s obvious that you can’t expect Toews to be the guy who goes and gets the puck on that line. Make it Saad, make it Kahun, or fuck, make it Kampf. The 12–19–88 line makes sense in theory, but it’s probably a bit too light in the ass to make a difference against teams willing to pack it in, like the Avs did tonight.

Corey Crawford continues to impress. And for once, he wasn’t having his innards pulled out of his ass with a pair of hot pincers doing it, facing a mere 20 shots on the game and tossing a 15-15 at even strength. At 34, he still looks like he’s got a few more years in him as long as he can stay out of the dark room.

– Fitting that Duncan Keith would score the game winner in overtime in a game the Hawks absolutely needed in regulation, given how often he’s let us down in bigger spots this year. There’s a nostalgia in watching Keith go coast to coast and flex a shot through the five hole, but it’s tapered by the fact that the extra point will likely be meaningless and that he did it in the farcical urinal race that is 3-on-3 OT.

– Strome and Perlini look lost without DeBrincat. Dominik Kahun is a nice complementary player, but Perlini isn’t consistent enough a scorer to put Kahun there as the puck retriever. Looks like Colliton realized that too, as Kahun found himself stapled to the bench late. There’s still a lot to hope for from Perlini’s game, but he just doesn’t have the finish or vision to carry a line on his own, at least not yet. If Colliton isn’t going to bump Saad up to the first line, he can probably get away with putting Kahun with Daydream Nation and slotting DeBrincat down to the second line again.

– The ASS line of Saad–Anisimov–Sikura was outstanding in possession, and they did so playing mostly against the MacKinnon line. This could be a good shutdown line in theory, but it’s hard to buy into Anisimov as a shutdown guy. There’s a lot to like with Saad and Sikura, and you can almost see Sikura playing the role of Saad Lite as he gets more comfortable in the NHL. I’m not sure what this line is supposed to do, but they possessed the puck a lot, so that’s cool.

Jonathan Toews probably could have had a hat trick tonight had Philipp Grubauer not turned into Dominik fucking Hasek. So it goes.

– While Gustav Forsling continues to shit his diaper upward with unforced turnovers and a complete lack of vision, our own Henri “Frank Grimes” Jokiharju has to be looking for the nearest stack of live wires to hug. In a year in which Brandon Fucking Manning played actual minutes for the Blackhawks, Forsling might still come out as the worst D-man the Hawks have dressed. He’s a cold sore on top of a split lip, and his only talent is a booming shot that requires a windup that makes Pedro Baez impatient.

Tonight is a short stay of execution, nothing more. The Hawks must win out in regulation going forward, because every game is a BIG GAME now. Given that they have not won a single BIG GAME in regulation this year, it’s hard to like the odds.

That’s why we get high.

Booze du Jour: High Life and Coricidin

Line of the Night: You better believe this was a Mute Lounge game.

Everything Else

The Dizzying Highs

Brendan Perlini – Get on with your bad self, son. Perlini posted his first career hat-trick, then added tallies in Toronto and Montreal. Perls still has a little work to do to top last year’s 17 goals in Arizona, so before we go all gaga we should understand he’s done this kind of thing before. Up until the last three games, Perlini and his linemates were putting up some seriously impressive metrics as well. But they’ve crashed to Earth with the rest of the team in Canada, and weren’t particularly impressive last night against a trap that no one on the team seemed to recognize or deal with. But hey, five goals is five goals. Hopefully he closes strong and gives us a good, “HE’S ON THE TEAM FOR NEXT YEAR!” feeling.

The Terrifying Lows

Gustav Forsling – In what was a pretty decent week for the Hawks, at least results-wise, it’s hard to find anyone to pick on. So I’ll go with my usual target, and really weep that I’m in a world where I have to justify hating Forsling getting in the lineup over Carl Dahlstrom. Seeing as neither should be on the team next year anyway. Whatever, Forsling got himself clocked by both the Leafs and Habs, and the Coyotes in a six-goal win as well. If I watch him lose another race or bail out of it altogether I’m basically gonna plotz. No, Slater Koekkoek isn’t any better, but at least he stood up Brock Boeser last night to draw a penalty, which is one more defensive contribution than Forsling has made all season.

The Creamy Middles

Corey Crawford – That seems harsh, as his last five appearances he’s carrying a .960 SV%. That should put him in the first column, but the thing is we kind of just take Crow’s brilliance as the norm. We shouldn’t, and after his injury odyssey of he past year-plus, we really should treasure any kind of spirited displays we get from him. We don’t know how long they’ll last. But we knew before the season, and we knew during the season, that Crow remains the Hawks most important player. Look, he’s playing well for the most part since he came back. He’s made eight appearances, and the Hawks are 6-1-1 in those. This is not a coincidence. He’s going to get every start save one half of the back-to-back against Colorado at the weekend until the season stops mattering. And if he continues to do this, it might matter all the way to the end.

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

I wish that I could at least tell you that the number of goals meant this was an exciting game—that it was a high-flying game reminiscent of the halcyon days between these two teams that really wasn’t all that long ago. But I can’t tell you that. This was a shitty game played by two shitty teams. The score was as high as it was because both teams have awful defenses and goalies who are a shadow of who they once were (it hurts, it’s not necessarily true every night but today it was).

The Hawks did their best to give the game away by squandering any and every opportunity, and the Kings had a mixture of bad luck and incompetence to keep things ugly, but they managed to look like they actually cared about winning this one. Let’s do the bullets…

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–The Hawks did that thing where they have a downright terrible start and have to play from behind. It’s been a little while since the busted out their now-classic down-by-two-goals-less-than-five-minutes-in shtick, but we got to see it here today. Two dumbass penalties right away—one being by Dylan Strome which kills me because you know I love that guy and here he goes and has a stupid trip—and the otherwise-useless Dustin Brown and Sean Walker both scored. The third goal by Ilya Kovalchuk was the first one of the day that Crawford really should have had (it would not be the last). Seabrook’s ass saving a goal and Brandon Perlini’s goal at the end of the first were the only things that kept it mildly close. And this is despite the Hawks leading in possession (58 CF% all situations) and leading in shots (15-11). Hockey is weird and sometimes numbers don’t tell the whole story.

–Wow, was the defense bad today. I mean, we all know they’re bad, but let me share with you some actual things that happened: Slater Koekkoek got burned by Dustin Brown and then screened Corey Crawford, directly helping both of the Kings’ first goals. Keith and Seabrook did a “you get it, no YOU get it” routine as they both literally watched the puck slide between them in the defensive zone. Gustav Forsling was looking to move the puck out of the defensive zone and had a wide open neutral zone, save one body in his field of vision—he managed to doink the puck off that one body leading to a turnover. Forsling later got swatted aside by Anze Kopitar which led immediately to the Kings’ fifth goal, which was the dagger in the game.

Oh yeah, and Nachos’s ass blocked literally half the net and saved a goal in the first period which, despite all the guffawing from Pat and Eddie, was actually terrible because it never should have happened. Seabrook’s ass was facing the shot because he had fallen down and was half in the net facing away from the play, and Keith got smoked by Trevor Lewis who sailed right in and had the scoring chance. Again, numbers don’t tell today’s story. Every Hawks defenseman was well above water in possession but they came nowhere near passing the eye test.

–Slater Koekkoek and Gustav Forsling were particularly egregious. In addition to the two fuck-ups that basically assisted on the first two Kings goals, our current favorite punching bag Koekkoek waved his stick inconsequentially in a passing lane doing absolutely nothing to prevent Kempe from scoring, after Jonathan Toews simply gave up. That goal was on Toews as well, no doubt, but Koekkoek was all-around terrible except for his one assist, which was really thanks to Strome (more on that later). Forsling’s dire performance behind the net on Brendan Leipsic‘s goal was painful to watch.

—Crawford wasn’t very good today, we have to just say it. One would think that if they weren’t playing an actual good team tomorrow night, CCYP may have pulled him after the third goal in the first period. Maybe not, because that wouldn’t have helped his confidence in any way, I would think. But regardless, his .760 SV% wasn’t even mediocre; it was wretched when you consider the opposition and the fact that the Hawks only gave up 25 shots.

–A small bright spot: Dylan Strome is still generally good, dumbass penalty notwithstanding. On Perlini’s first goal, Strome “hustled” to save icing (I use quotation marks because it was the slowest, most awkward hustling I’ve ever seen, but whatever I can barely even skate), and patiently held onto the puck below the goal line until Koekkoek got off the bench and into the zone, who then passed it to Perlini. Strome was by no means perfect, but hey I gotta find something, right?

–Brendon Perlini had two goals…had to be the best game of his life and it was totally wasted and useless.

Dylan Sikura had a nice scoring chance midway through the third that Quick stopped and I’m starting to believe he will never score in a Hawks sweater. Cue the Beavis and Butthead reference.

OK, I’m exhausted from this game. From watching it, from writing about it, everything, I just really need a stiff drink. The Hawks just got beat by the worst team in the conference with a 10-game losing streak. They lost despite not giving up 40+ shots, as is their wont, and despite having significantly better possession the entire game. Despite all logic and references to this as a “must-win,” and now it’s on to a game against the league’s elite. Eat Arby’s.

Photo credit:

Everything Else

This game is a perfect example of why the Blackhawks aren’t actually a good team, despite fancy numbers like wins and point streaks. They blew a three-goal lead in the third against the flotsam that is the Detroit Red Wings, or really, because the two good players on the Wings were able to score multiple times against the entire Hawks lineup. The Hawks’ possession, shots, and general defensive effort were awful, and had they been playing a team that was marginally functional, they probably would have lost. Let’s get to the bullets:

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–The Hawks started strong for the most part. They had a few shots given up really early, but ended up taking control of the first period and jumping out to 3-1 lead. Anisimov caught Jimmy Howard being lazy and dumb and scored on a wraparound, Saad torched Niklas Kronwall—whose level of speed can only be generously called glacial—and scored his 21st goal, and then Dylan Strome had a patient, gorgeous pass to Top Cat who buried it. Their possession at evens wasn’t stellar (exactly 50 CF%) but they had the numbers that counted.

–They started to take their foot off the proverbial gas pedal in the second, even though Kane increased his point streak and extended the lead to 4-1. By the third period they were in full-on blowing-the-game mode, despite being barely above water in possession (52.3 CF%). Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou pretty much scored at will, and fucking Anthony Mantha had assists on all four goals. This points to the fact that Coach Cool Youth Pastor still has to either get the team to listen to him or take him seriously, or at least give half a fuck, when things are going well.

Drake Caggiula got one of his eyes gouged out by Toews’ stick in the first, and he didn’t return the rest of the game. Now, I’ve shit-talked about him plenty, and I still believe he’s basking in some reflected glory by playing on a line with two Hall of Fame’rs having fuck you years, but honestly this isn’t a good thing in any way. Regardless of the reasoning he fit in well on the top line and with Kampf hurt we don’t need to lose any more forwards. Granted Brandon Saad replaced him, and he certainly deserves to be on the top line, but this isn’t the way you want to see it happen.

–The Hawks managed just 20 shots on goal…but hey, they gave up fewer than 40!

–Relatedly, Gustav Forsling looked particularly dreadful tonight. He was constantly standing around not knowing what to do or where to go on most of the Wings’ goals. He finished the night with a 37.5 CF%, and while no one was exactly sparkling with possession tonight, even Slater Koekkoek had over 50%. He was painful to watch and unfortunately I imagine most teams and their moronic GMs are noticing that too.

Cam Ward did make some good saves throughout the night, but he still finished with an .886 SV%. I’m not even going to sit here saying Delia would have been better because who the hell knows these days, but while Ward wasn’t solely to blame for giving up the lead, he never inspired much confidence either.

–Mike Tirico did the play by play for the first time and was perfectly suited to it. He handled Eddie well, and we fortunately were spared Pierre McGuire doing something idiotic or tone deaf like reminding him not to be a fan.

At the end of the day, the Hawks got the two points and this week remains interesting. So all’s well that ends well, but I gotta say that giving up a three-goal lead to a collection of basement-dwellers doesn’t exactly bode well for this playoff push, or whatever this may be. Still, it’s a win, so onward and upward…